Friday, 26 August 2011

The Inbetweeners Movie

2011, 15, Directed by Ben Palmer
Starring: Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison

Even though each series of The Inbetweeners – the hugely-popular British E4 sitcom that follows four teenagers through increasingly ridiculous and embarrassing situations – was greeted with huge acclaim, the step from small to big screen is always quite a leap; other shows have tried and commercially failed (The League of Gentlemen; Kevin and Perry) whilst most haven’t taken the time to bother. But crucially here, unlike those other efforts, the gamble taken by creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris is wholly necessary. Why? It's placement in the record books as the highest grossing British comedy of all time is surely answer enough. The series has a fanbase that yearned to be fed.
The series revelled in its main characters reacting to familiar situations in the worst possible way, deriving laughter from their every action. The Movie has translated this well, only Rudge Park Manor is swapped for ‘sun, sea, sex, booze and more sex’ as Will, Simon, Jay and Neil head to Malia. To divulge the hideously awkward situations the boys find themselves in would be to taint the laughter, for shock factor is a big element here. Just have it on good authority - the hilarity is amped up as far as it can go (too far?). Bird, Thomas, Buckley and Harrison's equal ability to remain endearing proves testament to the lads’performances, completely nailing every awkward characteristic they attempt to inhabit. Whenever Jay snarls a filthy slice of dialogue or Simon (still) whines on about Carli D'Amato, it is always delivered from a place where the masses can easily relate. Underneath their grotty teenage veneer are kind-hearted blokes whose friendship is made of steel. Maybe this is the secret to The Inbetweeners' success? 
Bravely introducing a group of female characters - who prove a neat match to the characters we know and love - combats the outing nicely, balancing out the appeal to both male and female. These are led by Laura Haddock's Alison, a charming addition who forms an unlikely friendship with one of the boys. Although the film tends to feel like a feature-length episode, as long as the jokes are thrown the audiences way, this shouldn't matter. Admittedly, there's the odd misfired quip or throwaway gag - but this is certainly not trying to be Airplane!. The importance lies in remaining true to the show's success and through positiviely puerile dialogue and easily the cringiest moments ever seen in cinema, Beesley and Morris have done just that. The result - for fans of the show - is that The Inbetweeners Movie will be the most fun you'll have for a long, long time.
Only when the credits roll accompanied by the series' theme tune (Morning Runner's Gone Up In Flames) does it hit you that this will probably be the last time these characters will be together on screen, whether it's big, small or anything inbetween. Not for everyone by any means (which knocks off half a point) but to all fans, bring your wellies... you won't only be knee-deep in laughs - you'll drown in them.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Secret in Their Eyes

2009, 18, Directed by Juan José Campanella
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Carla Quevedo

Beating heavyweight contenders in the 2010 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, all it takes to understand why Argentine film The Secret in Their Eyes emerged victorious is one simple watch. The plot follows Benjamin, a retired legal counsellor who decides to write a novel about a past unsolved homicide case, whilst battling his evident love for his superior, Irene. Anything you think this film is will be exceeded by the climax. Benjamin himself is a magnificent creation, warm and dedicated, brought to life by Ricardo Darin; during the scenes set in the past, you never doubt his dedication to right the wrong cruelly inflicted upon an innocent woman; in the present, you never doubt how much the past has haunted him, yet has somehow remained a decent, honest example of life hurling the blows at the good cops. His relationship with Irene (a shining Soledad Villamil) is enhanced by the constant casual chemistry on display. Being led through the film by these two characters is an experience in itself, their charm and camaraderie - not to mention their restricted sexual tension - effervescent throughout. The Secret in Their Eyes has more than enough moments to justify its Oscar win: look no further than a scene at a football stadium where Benjamin and his partner Pablo find a needle in a haystack as they attempt to catch a suspect – all rivetingly captured in one astounding long take. Focusing on the death of an innocent girl combined with a man obsessed with the idea of solving the case may have a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-esque feel, however Juan José Campanella’s adaptation of Eduardo Sacheri’s novel has style and substance merged to an ace level.
There may be the odd flicker where the film, starts to drag, but due to intense interaction combined with head-slappingly shocking plot twists, The Secret in Their Eyes is an underdog of the rarest kind; one that lives up to the hype... and it's no secret.
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