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REVIEW: TAMARA DREWE

PUBLISHED: 17:54 08 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:11 14 October 2010

JUSTIN MATLOCK reviews TAMARA DREWE (15)

BASED on the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds - itself inspired by Thomas hardy's classic novel far From the Madding Crowd - TAMARA DREWE (15) is the kind of gentle comedy us Brits do well.

With shots of the glorious Dorset countryside, an oh-so-witty script and a fine ensemble cast, this is effortlessly entertaining stuff - even if it is about as substantial as a British summer.

Gemma Arterton stars as Drewe, a London newspaper columnist who returns to sell off her dead mother's home.

Of course it's not long before she's tangled up in village life, and bagging three willing blokes - hunky farmer Andy (Luke Evans), married crime writer Nicholas

(Roger Allam) and superstar drummer Ben (Dominic Cooper).

Arterton does well with probably the least fun character in the film and she's backed by sparkling turns from Tamsin Greig, as the cuckolded wife, and Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie, who play a pair of troublesome teenage tykes.

Director Stephen Frears (The Queen) keeps things bouncing along at a fine clip and, even when things threaten to turn sour in the later stages; his firm hand keeps things sunny, silly and fun.

NOW here's a thing - a straight forward Hollywood rom-com that doesn't make you want to projectile vomit.

Of course, GOING THE DISTANCE (15) isn't quite as cool and clever as it thinks it is but next to 2010's other rom-coms - Valentine's Day, Leap Year and The

Bounty Hunter, etc - this film feels like a minor miracle.

Its success lies its leads. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long (an on-off pairing in real-life too) are an adorable match and bring a winning chemistry to this story of two young professionals struggling to make a long distance relationship work.

The fact Geoff LaTulippe's script makes them both real(ish) characters that you care about doesn't hurt either while indie director Nanette Burstein aims to keep things fresh and edgy even as she force feeds us the usual sugary rom-com formula.

She doesn't always succeed. The film's indie sensibilities - name-dropping cool bands and fancy on-screen animation - feel a little desperate at times while Barrymore and Long have an irritating habit of laughing at their own jokes a bit too much.

It might feel like a chick flick by blokey director Judd Apatow - complete with a foul-mouthed script - but the down-to-earth tone, decent joke ratio and charismatic leads have an undeniable charm.

IF you love sci-fi, film history, special effects or just want to know where modern classics like Blade Runner and Star Wars nicked all their ideas, the chances are you'll have seen METROPOLIS (PG).

Well, a version of it. Originally shown in Germany in 1927, Fritz Lang's acclaimed flick had around a quarter of its running time hacked away for its US release, with the exercised footage thought lost forever -

until it somehow turned up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2008.

Now after a painstaking restoration, the film is whole again (more or less) with an extra 30 minutes of footage.

The film, about a futuristic city where the ruling class live in luxury while the workers slave away in an underground hell, was never big on plot and where Lang's movie really dazzles is in its visual invention and its epic scope.

With the new footage, characters are fleshed out and the plot steps closer to coherence - and despite pushing the film's running time to two and a half hours, the additions never feel unnecessary or slow things down.

The new footage is noticeably scratchy compared to the rest of the film but it feels like a complete experience now.

And while it's no spring chicken but the film still feels boldly visionary and remains creepy, mesmerising and just that little bit odd. Whether you're a Metropolis virgin or old admirer, the release is the best reason to go to the cinema this week.

IF you like your films weird then you're definitely going to want to track down

MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE

DONE (TBC).

Combining the powers of veteran freak merchants Werner Herzog (as director) and David Lynch (as executive producer), the film morphs from a police procedural into something altogether more bizarre, touching on Greek tragedy, ostrich farming and finding God in a can of oatmeal.

The film may never reach the heights of his last cop-themed mindbender, the wonderful Bad Lieutenant, but Herzog fills the screen with so much oddness that you can't help but go with the flow.

Michael Shannon is superb as Brad, a troubled son who kills his own mother and winds up in a hostage situation with the cops (led by Willem Dafoe) outside. As friends are questioned, we get an insight into Brad's backstory - but what it all adds up to is anyone's guess.

Sometimes the experience is more satisfying than a point, and Herzog serves up a warped treat that's eerie, funny and tragic all at the same time. - JUSTIN MATLOCK


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