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last update 28.Mar.11
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dir Adam Deacon, Daniel Toland
scr Adam Deacon, Michael Vu
prd Terry Stone, Nick Taussig, Daniel Toland, Paul Van Carter
with Adam Deacon, Femi Oyeniran, Ollie Barbieri, Jazzie Zonzolo, Michael Vu, Richie Campbell, Linda Robson, Perry Benson, Jaime Winstone, Paul Kaye, Ashley Walters, Richard Blackwood
deacon release UK 18.Mar.11
11/UK 1h29
Anuvahood Essentially a scruffy British stoner comedy, this colourful romp certainly manages to create a lively atmosphere. But the characters' non-stop chatter, much of which is shouted at top volume, wears us out within the first five minutes.

Kenneth (Deacon) has changed his name to K to seem more street-smart on his rough council estate. His parents (Robson and Benson) think he needs to take more responsibility in the family, so he decides to help with their money problems. Although quitting his job isn't the smartest move. Then he hatches a plan to sell drugs to the neighbourhood with the help of his dopey pals (Zonzolo, Oyeniran and Vu) and a visiting foreign student (Barbieri), but this puts him on a collision course with the estate's self-proclaimed kingpin Tyrone (Campbell).

The title riffs on Noel Clarke's Kidulthood/Adulthood, both of which costarred Deacon, and there's some genuine charm here, as the cast and crew manage to make the annoying characters likeable. Even though everyone is a bundle of misplaced bravado, their embarrassing attempts to control events are disarmingly engaging. So it's extremely frustrating that the script strains our patience with paper-thin characterisations and badly contrived plot points (including that old chestnut: the hidden gun).

The actors go for broke with performances that are loud and extremely physical. How they sustained such high levels of energy throughout the shoot is anyone's guess, but it's pretty exhausting for us just to watch the constant slapstick and verbal mayhem. The best scenes are actually the ones that are more character-based, such as K's interaction with his mum and dad, the only characters who have any shading at all. Everyone else is a corny pastiche.

And there's also the problem that the film tries to tack on a weak message about being yourself, since it's continually undermined by all of the on-screen mugging. The central storyline is so simplistic that it almost boggles the mind, and it's punctuated by strained comical set pieces that centre on intense humiliation. Frankly, the only people who will laugh at these things are the bullies and thugs themselves. Which is probably who this film was made for.

15 themes, strong violence, language, drugs, sexuality
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dir-scr Lance Hammer
prd Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh
with Micheal J Smith Sr, JimMyron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail, Sanjib Shrestha, Zachary Coleman, Albert Jay Levy, Anita R Ballard, Ventress Bonner, Jimez Alexander, Jean Paul Guillory, Lawrence Jackson
ross release US 1.Oct.08,
UK 18.Mar.11
08/US 1h36


london film fest
ballast Moody and challenging, this independent drama really captures both the slow pace of life in rural America and the sense of disorientation that comes in the wake of suicide. It's a remarkably moving film, even if it's somewhat elusive.

Lawrence (Smith) is stunned into silence by the suicide of his twin brother Darius, with whom his entire life is entwined. In his mid-30s, he can't imagine going on with their business on his own. Meanwhile, Darius' teen son James (Ross) is struggling in a very different way, mainly because he feels like he never really knew his dad after his mother Marlee (Riggs) banned Darius from seeing his son. These three people are a prickly bundle of conflict and contradictions, and yet their only hope might be to stick together.

Writer-director Hammer wastes no time setting the scene; he throws us right into the middle of the events and leaves us to piece together the back-story through the interaction that follows. This is incredibly effective at pulling us into the events, as we immediately feel vested in each of the central trio's situations, seeing things through all three perspectives as we watch these people circle around each other in ways that are both wary and expectant.

What this also does is remove a central plotline from the film, which might frustrate some audiences. Without a focal point of view, we become observers only, even though the camera work and sound mix are intensely intimate. We identify with the feelings, but we never experience the wave of dark emotion that Lawrence, James and Marlee are going through. But each scene is so intricately observed and finely played that we are gripped by the journeys these fragile people are taking.

Most impressive is the way Hammer captures the setting with such bracing honesty. The town is merely a collection of isolated houses, with neighbours that stick to themselves unless there's some urgency. The conversations are almost invasively realistic: hesitant, awkward, angry, inarticulate attempts to communicate. And all of this combines to create complex characters that behave like real people, both behaving badly and finding moments of hope and tenderness in a desperate situation.

15 themes, language, violence
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dir Edward Boase
scr James Walker
prd Nick Ashdon
with Nick Ashdon, Cicely Tennant, Oliver Boot, Joseph Kloska, Tracy Ifeachor, Adam Best, Mark Dexter, Neil McDermott, Isabella Calthorpe, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jay Taylor
ashton and boot release UK 1.Apr.11
11/UK 1h16
blooded Layers of doc and drama make this film intriguing but not hugely involving, partly because it gives away the ending and partly because we're put at such a distance from the action. But it does get us thinking about the issues it raises.

While on holiday on the Isle of Mull, a group of five hunters is attacked by anti-hunting activists who videotape their assault. Each is stripped to their underwear and left in an isolated landscape, then hunted like animals. Their main target is a high-profile hunting advocate. As the five (Best, Dexter, McDermott, Calthorpe and Duncan-Brewster) are interviewed, actors (Ashdon, Tennant, Boot, Kloska and Ifeachor) play them in a re-creation of their harrowing ordeal.

There are a couple of obvious problems: since we see most of the characters being interviewed, we know they will survive. And since it's actors re-enacting the hunt, we know that the people we are watching are only pretending to be in danger. These two things filter out any real suspense or participation in the story, although at least we can still identify with the terrified reactions these people have to what happens. And there are some scenes along the way that are genuinely scary.

It helps that Boase directs the film with sharp skill. The setting is shot with swooping aerial camerawork that vividly conveys the isolation of this dramatic island, and the more action-oriented sequences have a real sense of tension to them. Kate Reid's lush cinematography and Ilan Eshkeri's robust score give the film a blockbuster tone, even though this is a micro-budget independent film. And the cast is very good at capturing the emotions that these events raise. Performances in the re-enactments feel slightly overwrought, but that's just about right.

Along the way, the interaction between the characters is what engages us. There's a recently separated couple with very different feelings toward each other, brothers who are both competitive and protective, an American girlfriend caught in unexpected horror, best friends pushed to the brink. And while the political element of the story feels underdeveloped, the sense of life's fragility is pretty intense. And the film's most memorable moment teaches us that a split-second can make all the different.

15 themes, language, violence
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dir-scr Quentin Dupieux
prd Julien Berlan, Gregory Bernard
with Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick, Wings Hauser, Roxane Mesquida, David Bowe, Remi Thorne, Courtenay K Taylor, Pete Di Cecco, Devin Brochu, Daniel Quinn, Charley Koontz, Ethan Cohn
robert and mesquida
release Fr 10.Nov.10,
US 1.Apr.11, UK 8.Apr.11
10/France 1h19

rubber This absurdist horror-comedy gleefully plays with how "all great films" contain an element that has no reason ("Why was E.T. brown?"). The joke is spread far too thinly, but the deadpan style and witty movie references are very funny.

on the rubbish-strewn California desert, a tyre wakes up and starts rolling, gradually finding its balance as well as psychokinetic powers of destruction. He sleeps at night, drinks water, stalks a scorpion and then a rabbit. Giddy with success, he takes aim at human prey. And when he sees a young woman (Mesquida) showering in an isolated motel, he even falls in love. Eventually, a cop (Spinella) arrives to investigate the deaths. Over the next few days, as the murderous rampage escalates, he struggles to find inventive ways to stop this killer tyre.

This story is framed with a crowd of movie fans in the desert watching the action through binoculars, constantly offering clueless comments while looking for something to eat (road-kill pizza, anyone?). Meanwhile, writer-director Dulieux (aka music producer Mr Oizo) shoots this like a Lynchian version of The Red Balloon, anthropomorphising the tyre with a range of emotions and a droll song score. And the tyre's murderous shaking-until-something-explodes method comes from David Cronenberg's 1981 classic Scanners.

Less a surreal thriller than a knowing pastiche of both filmmaking and moviegoing, the movie constantly plays with ideas of staged authenticity. "Stop acting like this is real life," says the cop, arguing that nothing is real once the audience has passed out from food poisoning. But when they discover that one rebellious viewer (Hauser) is still conscious, they have to carry on with the increasingly implausible events. And the cast is especially good at playing with these bizarre layers of meaning.

This certainly isn't a film for anyone looking for real horror: the grisliness is played for laughs, and the postmodern approach is cerebrally aimed at cinephiles. But for a wryly ridiculous exploration of the absurdity of existence, both in real life and on the big screen, this is dryly hilarious fun. As the audience minder (Plotnick) says to the one viewer who won't play the game, "Wait all you want, there's no end!" But there is one, and it's pure genius.

15 themes, violence, language
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