The Herald - Arts - - Cinema -

Jean-Bap­tis­teGre­nouille, as read­ers of Pa­trick­Suskind’s novel will­know, hada dif­fi­cult birth. Shot out of his mother’s body on toapileof stink­ing­fish­heads, he was meant tobe swept away with the rub­bish. The runt had two things go­ing for him: alust for life­anda­ge­nius for iden­ti­fy­ing scents. Af­ter survivinga child­hood so­harshit would­make Dick­ens faint, Gre­nouille(BenWhishaw) sets out to be thegreatest per­fumer of all time. Un­for­tu­nately, he re­quires more thanpatchouli oil to cre­ate­his ul­ti­mate per­fume. As his di­a­bol­i­cal scheme to cap­ture­and­dis­till beauty un­folds, France will­cometofearhim.Whishaw­dom­i­nates the screen, at turns grotesque, tragic, hauntin­gand­pa­thetic. The trou­bleis that you nat­u­rally re­coil fromhim, and the film­falls vic­tim to the same­in­stinct. Sit­ting throughPer­fumeis rather like watchin­ga­long­per­fumead, al­beit one that owes more toHierony­mus Bosch thanChanel. Daz­zledby the style, oneis never en­tirely se­ducedby the sub­stance. Ben Stiller is Larry, a like­able New Yorker who has trou­ble hold­ing down a job. Forced to take any po­si­tion for fear of los­ing ac­cess to his son, he rolls up at the Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory to find the guards, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs, pre­par­ing to re­tire. Their ad­vice is not to let any­thing into the mu­seum – or out. He dis­cov­ers what they mean when he is be­ing chased around the place by a T-Rex, At­tila the Hun and other es­capees. The cast have a ball and there’s some very funny busi­ness with Stiller and Dex­ter the ca­puchin, but there’s not much more to it than spe­cial ef­fects and the cus­tom­ary schmaltz. This is based on the best­selling book by Ron Pow­ers and James Bradley, whose fa­ther was one of the six men in the fa­mous pho­to­graph of the men atop Mount Surib­achi in Iwo Jima. Di­rec­tor Clint East­wood fol­lows the story of the men and ex­poses how three of them – but pos­si­bly not the right three – were ma­nip­u­lated into flog­ging war bonds on their re­turn to the US. Flags has not had box-of­fice suc­cess in the US: weari­ness with all-too-real wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been blamed. This sug­gests Flags is a fail­ure, and as a straight-down-the-line war drama it is far from that. As if the Santa Clause se­ries was not enough of a sea­sonal crime, Tim Allen re­turns in this mirth­less tale of re­tired su­per­hero Cap­tain Zoom. Di­rec­tor Peter He­witt nods to the crum­blies by hav­ing Chevy Chase as a bum­bling sci­en­tist and Rip Torn as a swivel-eyed gen­eral. By the time the young­sters grad­u­ate as su­per­heroes Won­der, Hou­dini, Princess and Mega Boy, your own crew will be Bored, Ir­ri­tated, Puz­zled and Asleep. The film is re­mark­able in that it stars Sharon Os­bourne in her first fea­ture film role. Hav­ing watched her on screen, one has to say, in the man­ner of Ozzie, “Shaaaar­rrron! Act­ing! Noooooooooooo!”

Karo­line Her­furth scents dan­ger from Ben Whishaw in Per­fume

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