The Curious Case of Lamb Dressed As Mutton

Blog by Ray Philp | 05 Feb 2009

Whilst it may be old hat to point out, you may recall that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston were an item once upon a time.  Back in those heady days, they were two young thespian things skipping gaily over fields of daffodils looking towards a bright future filled with takeaways, DIY, and DVD’s (their own, of course).  Alas, that blooming love has since become forgotten chip paper, little more than the remnants of a sleazy red top exclusive.  As they both manage to turn back time with a combination of CGI, self-denial, and good ol’ fashioned slap, they begin again to look in earnest for that loving feeling as Pitt’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Aniston’s He’s Just Not That Into You are let loose onto our screens from this Friday. 

David Fincher’s A Curious Case of Benjamin Button stars Pitt as a boy who is born with the physical appearance of an octogenarian, who then becomes younger as he grows up.  Critics are scribbling stars and superlatives furiously, so logic dictates you might enjoy it.  A word of advice though; at a deep-vein thrombosis inducing 166 minutes, it might be best to rotate your ankles every so often.  Meanwhile, Ken Kwapis’ multi-strand romcom He’s Just Not That Into You is a Magnolia-lite conglomeration of star names including Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, and Jennifer Connelly, who  vacuously fall in and out of love with eachother.

With Valentines’ Day fast approaching, this week’s releases continue on the boy-meets-girl vein with Vicky Cristina Barcelona.  The citadel that boasts Lionel Messi, street graffiti and the two hour lunchbreak takes centre stage in Woody Allen’s romantic drama.  Vicky and Cristina are two friends that head to Barcelona for the summer and encounter chiselled swordsman Juan Antonio.  After several romantic trysts between Juan Antonio and the girls, Antonio’s crazy ex-wife (aren’t they all...err, I’ll get my coat) Maria Elena moves back in.  It’s a biting commentary on the complexity of modern relationship etiquette that many predict will see Allen return to top form.

For those looking for something darker still then the brow is considerably elevated for John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, featuring Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  A sombre critique of the belief system on which the Catholic Church is based, this bible-bashing fare is served by expert turns from the ever reliable Streep and Hoffman.  Needless to say, Pope Benny XVI will be frothing at his pulpit as he strikes Shanley off of his Valentines’ list. 

If you’re anticipating a cold, lonely February 14th, sobbing into a tub of Haagen Daz before your thoughts turn to other fish in the sea, you could do worse than find solace in man’s best friend instead as Bolt hits your screens on the 6th.  An endearing Disney romp that follows a four legged scamp that sounds like John Travolta getting into bother as he’s inadvertently transported from his cushy life in a Hollywood studio to New York, which isn’t the most harrowing place a dog could possibly find himself in.  A sausage factory in South Korea on the other hand might ramp up the adventure quotient considerably.

Away from the meat markets, the Cameo re-visits Don Coscarelli’s Bubba Ho-Tep, a cult classic that stars Bruce Campbell as Elvis Pressley.  His best mate is John F. Kennedy, and they both live in a nursing home, a synopsis one would surmise was light work for the studio’s PR department.  Also playing at the Cameo this Friday is I’ve Loved You So Long, a harrowing drama about two sisters who reunite after one is released from a 15 year stretch in prison.  Kristin-Scott Thomas excels as the recently freed Julliette struggling to adjust to her sister’s carefree and loving family home. 

To the west, there are lots of exciting things to come for film-goers in Glasgow with the eagerly anticipated arrival of the Glasgow Film Festival this February from the 12th which will be discussed in more depth next week, and which will also receive extensive coverage via the Cine-Skinny.  The Glasgow Film Theatre warm things up nicely with Belle Toujours, an epilogue of sorts to legendary Spanish director Luis Bunuel’s Belle de Jour.  Director Manoel de Oliveira expands the motives and perversions of the central characters of Belle de Jour as they are revisited in their twilight years.  Also showing on Friday is Better Things, an intelligent drama set in rural England following the lives of several villagers after a funeral in the community provides the catalyst for revelations and the release of long held tensions. 

Finally, the Dundee Contemporary arts is showing highly regarded animated film Persepolis this Friday, while Sam Peckinpah’s violent classic Straw Dogs is screened a little later on Tuesday 10th.