Cinema roundup: 6th June

7_0This week sees the release of two biting indie satires from the US.

Cheap Thrills is a black as a moonless night comedy that asks us just how much of our dignity we’re willing to trade for money and security. Two down on their luck friends have an encounter with an affluent couple who set in motion a deadly game, rewarding the men with increasingly large sums for performing increasingly degrading tasks. Few American movies have addressed the impact of the recession but director EL Katz takes it head on in this incendiary drama.

Mass shootings have plagued the US in recent years and The Dirties takes a fictional look at the events leading to a school shooting. Shot in a mockumentary style, the film cleverly plays its audience; nothing is ever as it seems here and the film tackles its issues in an impressively nuanced manner.

Another look at the darkside of recent US history is Fruitvale Station, a reimagining of the final day of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old man shot dead without provocation by police on New Years Eve 2009. It’s a little too manipulative and tries too hard to portray its subject in an angelic light. The closing scenes are suitably tense, however.

One of the most derided movies of last year was Diana, the hilariously awful biopic of the late Princess of Wales. Now we get another unintentionally amusing look at a much idolised Princess with Grace of Monaco. In reality, the most interesting aspect of Grace Kelly’s post Hollywood life was her much rumoured penchant for nocturnal orgies, but presumably not wanting a lawsuit (the throne of Monaco can afford good lawyers, I suspect), the film-makers focus on the tension between the tiny principality and its neighbouring bully, France. Kelly is portrayed as a Joan of Arc figure who saves Europe from the brink of war through her charm and good manners. Bizarre stuff.

2012’s 21 Jump Street was a surprisingly smart and witty comic reboot of the preposterous eighties cop drama. Its sequel, 22 Jump Street, is a lazily written cash-in that simply takes some of the jokes from the first movie and stretches them to the point where you begin to question if they were actually all that amusing to begin with.

The worst film of the week – no, make that the year – is the excrutiating UK comedy Benny & Jolene, a shameless Spinal Tap rip-off that tries to inject the spirit of the Office and fails miserably. I literally didn’t laugh once during its 90 minutes and at this point I’m truly sick of lazy, unfunny and offensive “comedies”.

By Eric Hillis

Image: Movie of the Week, Cheap Thrills

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