Film

Mindhorn/ King Arthur: Legend of the Sword/

First up this month is Mindhorn (May 5), absurd British comedy from The Mighty Boosh‘s Julian Barratt. Barratt plays Richard Thorncroft, washed-up former star of cheesy ’80s detective series Mindhorn, in which he played the titular character, a detective with a bionic eyepatch that can literally “see the truth”.

But Mindhorn has not aged well and neither has its star who has become a flabby, impoverished has-been whose former co-stars (including Steve ‘I am more than Alan Partridge’ Coogan) have all gone on to enjoy greater success than he has.

But fate, it seems, has a third act planned for Mindhorn when a deranged killer on the run contacts police and insists that he will only negotiate with the former TV detective. The killer, Melly, (played by Russell Tovey) clearly has a tenous grasp on reality, but so does Mindhorn, so the police deem him the most appropriate person to negotiate with the unhinged Melly. But will he succeed? Well, either buy a bionic eye-patch or get down to your local multi-plex this week to find out.

Which leads us to our next cinematic offering, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12) starring Queer As Folk’s Charlie Hunnam. It was really only a matter of time before some movie executives trundled out the old Excaliber legend for a spot of cinematic reanimation. This is just as well really, seeing as audiences don’t seem want new stories: they just want remakes of old ones with increasingly hotter casts. And on that at least, King Arthur: LotS seems to deliver.

The story follows Arthur on his journey from street urchin to sexy sword-wield monarch by way of some enthusiastic fight scenes and pensieve beard stroking. When Arthur’s father (Eric Bana) is murdered, and his crown seized by his evil uncle Vortigern (Jude Law), little Artie is forced into hiding.

Robbed of his birthright and, over time the knowledge of his true lineage, Arthur lives the life of a petty street hoodlum (with a heart as golden as his beard, of course). But when Arthur manages the impossible and pulls Excaliber from its stone, he is suddenly forced to confront the truth of his identity while kicking a lot of bad guy ass.

Lastly this month, a wee nip of warming Scottish humour in the form of Whisky Galore (May 19) a remake of the 1949 Ealing classic of the same name. The movie recounts a real-life event, namely the scuttling of the SS Politician, a 8000-ton cargo ship sailing for Kingston, Jamaica and New Orleans with a cargo including 28,000 cases of malt whisky, which aground off the coast of Eriskay Island in the Outer Hebrides in 1941.

The story is thus: the inhabitants of a Scottish island whose supply of whisky has been curtailed due to war-time rationing think their prayers to St Johnny Walker have been answered when a cargo ship carring 50,000 cases of whisky runs aground on their coast.

Naturally, they sail out and shanghai as many bottles as they can carry before the ship capsizes. But punctilious Home Guard officer Captain Wagget (Eddie Izzard) is determined to confiscate every stolen bottle and enters into a cat-and-mouse game with the locals, who have even less time for jumped-up Englishmen than they have for sobriety. Gentle, light-hearted comedy fare.

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Film

Black Sea/ The Grandmaster/ The Good Lie

I’ve never been a fan of Jude Law – sure, he was great in much-maligned Gattaca and The Talented Mr Ripley, but poor recent performances, coupled with an ever-receding hairline and off-screen shagnanigans, render him a rather unlikeable cove. 

Misgivings aside, Law manages a fine performance (not to mention a surprisingly convincing Scottish accent) in Black Sea (December 5). Law plays Captain Robinson, a submarine captain (apparently still a profession) who, along with his hand-picked crew of ragtag Scotchmen, decides to seek out some long-forgotten submerged Nazi gold. Unsurprisingly, dingy submarine conditions, gold-lust and rival treasure hunters all conspire to drive crew and captain apart. 

Can the crew get it together and raise all that Nazi gold, or will Captain Robinson have to give them Das Boot (sorry)? There’s only one way to find out. 

Next up this month, something a bit different: visually-sumptuous marital arts ass-kickery in the form of The Grandmaster (December 5), starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Ziyi Zhang. 

The Grandmaster follows the real life story of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man (Leung) – the Man who taught the world’s most famous Kung Fu exponent, Bruce Lee, every kick he knew – beginning with his flight to Hong Kong after the second Sino Japanese war, and ending with the events leading up to his death in 1972. The movie simultaneously chronicles the end of an era in Chinese martial arts history that occurred in the immediate post-war period. 

Ponderous political plot points notwithstanding, the real reason to see The Grandmaster is the jaw-dropping fight scenes (choreographed by Crouching Tiger’s Yuen Woo-ping). I could watch Ziyi Zhang axe-kick all day. Don’t kung-fool yourself into overlooking this gem this month!

Finally this month, The Good Lie (December 12) a schmaltzy, Blindside-y – and damn it! – heartwarming tale, starring Reece Witherspoon, who must be relieved that she will never again be confused with Renee Zellweger since the latter’s recent real-life Face-Off remake. 

The story is thus: after 13 years in a Kenyan refugee camp, a trio of grown-up Sudanese orphans win a visa lottery which allows them to immigrate to the US. Jackpot! Once there, they meet Carrie (Witherspoon), a plucky job recruiter initially tasked with finding them jobs. Soon enough though, Carrie becomes a multi-purpose ambassador/cultural acclimatiser for the men, helping them navigate their new lives and escape the lingering horrors of their war-torn pasts. 

The Good Lie features excellent performances (two of three male leads fled conflict zones in real life) and a feel-good, Oscar-bait type of vibe.

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