Thursday 13 July 2017

Critical Week: What big hair you have!

A rather vicious bout with food poisoning derailed a few film screenings for me this week, leaving me feeling a bit like the Sun King on his deathbed in The Death of Louis XIV, an achingly slow-moving but mesmerising 18th century drama by Albert Serra. It also has a surprising underlying sense of humour to it, plus a lovely performance from Jean-Pierre Leaud. Terrence Malick's Song to Song is another gorgeous collage of a movie with a plot that was slightly less defiantly elusive than his more recent movies. It also has striking performances from Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchet and more. And Maudie is the warm true story of Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis, sometimes a bit too quirky and quaint for its own good, but Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke add nice textures to their offbeat roles. And then there was this one...

A Few Less Men
dir Mark Lamprell; scr Dean Craig; with Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, Ryan Corr 17/Aus *
Screenwriter Dean Craig's 2012 comedy A Few Best Men was painfully unfunny, only livened up by Stephan Elliot's subversive direction. No one expected a sequel. But here it is, and the three returning actors at least dive in with gusto. Even so, Craig's script is even more unbearably inane this time, proving that comedies need gags that have something to do with characters or situations. Here, the jokes are random, usually extended set-pieces involving death and/or bodily functions, all with a vile homophobic undertone. And the plot simply makes no sense. It starts where the first film ended, after the wedding of sensible nice-guy David (Samuel), whose idiotic and unlikely English buddies (Marshall and Bishop) are coping with the death of a friend. The hijinks ensue as they try to get the body back to London so camp mobster Henry (Corr) can bury his brother. But they crash-land their private jet and end up carrying the coffin across the Outback on a single day that would need to have about 72 hours in it (Henry flies from London to meet them in Perth while the sun is still in the sky). The actors just about emerge with their dignity intact, simply by never acknowledging how bone-chillingly awful this movie is. There are welcome antics from scene-stealers like Lynette Curran, Deborah Mailman, Shane Jacobson and Sacha Horler. And the closing credits outtakes at least hint they had some fun making it.

This coming week we have Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the animated antics of Captain Underpants, the Morrissey biopic England Is Mine and the cleverly titled heist thriller The Vault.

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