Very comic stripping
Judd ‘Knocked Up’ Apatow has done it again with a bright, taste-free rom-com that delivers loads of laughs
FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (
JASON Segel appears full-frontally naked on screen and only has himself to blame. He co-wrote this defiantly ribald, immensely entertaining comedy, with producer Judd Apatow, the man behind last year’s hits The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad.
The simple, satisfying premise finds struggling musician Peter (Segel) dumped by long-time girlfriend, TV crime series star Sarah (Kristen Bell). Dedicated womanising fails to assuage his grief and so Peter heads to Hawaii to reassemble his broken heart, only to run into Sarah and her new British rocker boyfriend Aldous (Russell Brand).
London-born Nicholas Stoller’s admirable directorial debut makes the most of the mostly tasteless jokes, sharp, cruelly accurate satire (the opening and closing parodies of American television crime shows are just off-centre enough to be genuine) and comic situations. He consistently raises laughs by ensuring his players are unrestrained but without allowing them to bludgeon the material to death. Segal is splendid, delivering one-liners with engaging skill. Bell makes a fine foil, and Brand makes up for his egregious turn in St Trinian’s with a callously exact send-up of egoand-hormone-driven rock stars. Result — a bright, tasteless comic treat.
NEW YORK auditor Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) is the archetypal nebbish. He wears glasses, his hair is parted 1920s-fashion, he likes accountancy because “the order of it appeals to me — the symmetry”. Needless to say, his success with the ladies is minimal. Along comes successful lawyer Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman) who introduces McQuarry to the unique pleasures of a high-class sex club, a world of “intimacy without intricacy”. McQuarry believes he has finally made it, until a torrid liaison with mysterious “Jennifer” (Michelle Williams) ensnares him in a nightmare of treachery, crime and murder.
First-time feature director Marcel Langenegger is quoted as saying Mark Bomback’s ingenious screenplay “reminded me of Hitchcock”. Hitchcockian elements are certainly there — an innocent hero propelled into a dangerous milieu, duplicitous characters and a narrative line that suspends disbelief. Jackman is suavity itself when he needs to be, Williams makes her character interesting and McGregor is a suitable victim/hero (despite an uneven American accent). As smooth, cunning and compelling thrillers go, this one goes over very nicely.
CO-WRITER/DIRECTOR Kimberley Peirce’s drama follows decorated US sergeant Brandon King’s (Ryan Phillippe) return to small-town Texas home after combat service in Iraq. King looks forward to returning to civilian life, only to be trapped by the US Army’s stop-loss policy which allows the US government to continue to call soldiers back for further tours of duty.
King justifiably reacts adversely against recall, bringing him into conflict with his authority-accepting friend, Steve (Channing Tatum).
Pierce, in her first film since Boys Don’t Cry, again creates thought-provoking drama, believable characters and makes powerful points about the conflict between self and duty.
Her staging of warfare in Iraq and her portrait of small-town Texas are gritty and convincing, as are the leading performances, notably Philippe, Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a returning soldier ultimately destroyed by his combat experience.
YET ANOTHER American remake of a successful Japanese shocker, this one a somewhat superior (until the narrative starts wobbling) horrorflick. Blind concert violinist Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) undergoes successful corneal transplants which restore her sight. Unfortunately, they also allow her to see dead people filtered through the horrific experiences of her donor. The subject is hardly new, of course — the classic The Hands of Orlac/Mad Love used the same theme back in 1935 — but directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud, well served by Jeffrey Jur’s atmospheric cinematography, deliver the requisite chills and thrills.
THREE AND OUT (
THE UNLIKELY story of a London Tube train driver who seeks a wouldbe suicide to throw himself under his train so that he can claim a bonus from his employers seems a peculiar subject even for a black comedy. And so it turns out to be. Director Jonathan Gershfield does his best, extracting what comedy he can, but the screenplay defeats him. Mackenzie Crook in the lead role fails to makes his essentially unsympathetic character likeable.
Kristen Bell and Russell Brand share an intimate moment in the quite memorable Forgetting Sarah Marshall