Every pop idol movie biography follows the familiar rags-to-riches path and always ends in glory, salvation or death.
Recent Oscar-winners such as Ray and Walk The Line both conform to that tried-and-trusted formula. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is an affectionate, beautifully crafted send-up of all the tired clichés and teary triumphs that we have come to know and love.
The film begins with the legendary Dewey Cox (John C Reilly) backstage before he receives a lifetime achievement award. Naturally, this prompts him to look back at the events that have shaped his life, including an unfortunate childhood incident with a machete that left his beloved brother in pieces. Well, two pieces to be precise.
Along the rocky road to stardom, Dewey has a tussle with Elvis (Jack White), a battle with drug addiction, chart-topping success, multiple marriages, a Bob Dylan period, a Brian Wilson-style meltdown and much more before he makes peace with his inner demons.
The best part of Walk Hard is the spoof songs with lewd Benny Hill lyrics such as "in my dreams you are blowing me... some kisses". The satire is spot-on and there is a great Sixties’ sequence in which Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman and Justin Long play The Beatles.
The real problem with Walk Hard is that so much talent, time and effort have gone into the making of a movie that is amusing without being uproarious and that just feels a little pointless.
Running Time: 96 minutes
The Good Night (Cert 15)
Stars:Martin Freeman, Penelope Cruz
Are dreams an escape from reality or a viable alternative to it? That’s the dilemma that Martin Freeman seems to be facing in this strange romantic drama that’s more bewildering than beguiling.
Set in New York but largely filmed in London, the whimsical story centres on musician Gary (Martin Freeman), who is stuck in a career rut and a dreary relationship with dowdy Dora (Gwyneth Paltrow) that is depressing both of them.
In his dreams, Gary meets the gorgeous, sophisticated Anna (Penelope Cruz) and is so enthralled by her that he even consults lucid dreaming expert Mel (Danny DeVito), who teaches him the tricks of intensifying his sleeping experiences. Then he spots an advert in which the glamorous model is the girl from his dreams.
The Good Night is a muddle and never seems to find its own voice. It begins as a confusing mock documentary with expert witnesses, including Jarvis Cocker, talking about Gary’s life and loves. This is soon abandoned for a more straightforward approach that veers into broadly comic territory with frequent scene-stealing appearances from Simon Pegg as Gary’s lecherous best friend Paul.
The scenes between Gary and his dreary girlfriend belong to a Pinter play. The dream sequences are like a lush pop promo from the Eighties. None of the pieces really fit together and the result is an odd, unpersuasive movie that isn’t saved by some bright moments, wise observations or the very endearing central performance of Martin Freeman.
Running Time: 99 minutes
Alien vs Predator – Requiem (Cert 15)
There was a time when the release of a new Alien film was big news. Now it’s just a cause for apprehension. How low will they sink to squeeze a few more bucks from a franchise that is already well past its sell-by date?
The answer is pretty low in Aliens Vs Predator – Requiem, where the war between the drooling extra-terrestrial beasties and the invisible killing machine erupts on the streets and sewers of smalltown America.
On a technical level the film is well made but the risible dialogue and woeful human performances don’t help improve an incomprehensible storyline that saves its one clever idea for the final scene.
The film-makers operate on the principle that you must slaughter someone or blow something up every couple of minutes. The result is a movie that feels like a very confusing computer game. The ending suggests there could be more of these to come but it really is time to leave these poor creatures alone.
Running Time: 94 minutes
Back To Normandy (Cert n/c)
Thirty years ago Nicolas Philibert was hired as an assistant director on Moi, Pierre Riviere, the story of the notorious 19th-century murderer. The film had a unique flavour because of the location shooting and the decision to cast non-professionals from among local farmers.
In Back To Normandy, Philibert returns to record the memories of those who worked on the picture. The result is a modest documentary revealing the community’s pride in the project, some of the tragedies that have befallen the cast and Philibert’s very personal reasons for returning to the film.
Mostly of interest to cinephiles, this has charm and, if nothing else, could revive interest in the work of Philibert’s largely forgotten mentor Rene Allio and encourage fresh screenings of Moi, Pierre Riviere.
Running Time: 113 minutes
Shot In Bombay (Cert n/c)
THIS captures all the blood, sweat and tears involved in the production of true-life police thriller Shootout At Lokhandwala.
Director Apoorvia Lakhia’s job was made all the more challenging by the fact that star Sanjay Dutt was awaiting the verdict from a trial that had dragged on for 14 years.
Charged with illegal arms possession, he was finally sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and is understandably a little distracted and frequently absent from a production that struggles to create order from what often appears to be complete chaos.
An interesting tale, especially for those with a fondness for Bollywood films.