News Column

Good cop mad cop

July 28, 2013


FILM (15) THIS sure isn't the chick flick to end them all, but Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy's new comedy is an agreeably silly way of killing a couple of hours. And after a string of duds, it's also the best film either has done in years.

They play mismatched law enforcers assigned to bring down a Boston crime boss. Snaring the villain turns out to be the least of their problems, mind, given their chalk and cheese natures. While Bullock's FBI agent is a prim and proper snoot, her new partner is a foul-mouthed detective who has no problem shattering the rules to make an arrest.

The story never veers sharply from a thousand other buddy-cop movies but deserves kudos for making the protagonists female - perhaps a first.

And despite any familiarity, both actresses are on their very best form. McCarthy, the breakout star of 2011's Bridesmaids, is hilariously obnoxious with her largely improvised caterwauling at her male colleagues extremely amusing.

It's very much her film, but Bullock - who hasn't appeared in a good film since 2006's Infamous - proves to be a terrific foil with a knowingness in her eyes suggesting she's sending up every cop drama ever made.

In short, the pair make a terrifically funny team with the slapstick, physical comedy providing plenty of laughs. Having said that, it's not a chick-flick in the same league as, say, Bridesmaids thanks to a protracted and deeply silly final act. You get the impression that director Paul Feig - who also helmed Bridesmaids - was so taken with the comedy that he only grudgingly sandwiched in a plot resolution at the very last moment.

A sequel is already in the planning stage and, there's enough here to suggest it may be well worth a look.

DAYS OF GRACE (15) THE multi-stranded narrative of this OTT Mexican crime drama is impressively strung together, but you'll need to watch it more than once to figure out just what's going on. And while offering plenty of thrills and spills, Days Of Grace is a touch too ambitious for its own good.

Playing out over three football World Cup tournaments, the characters include a cop trying to keep his son out of trouble, a gang of kidnappers, a bent policeman and a street gang. As the characters age over the course of 12 years, all of them are affected by the country's crime wave.

Hyperactive camerawork and a satisfying climax make for occasionally exhilarating viewing, although a fistful of flashbacks and those multiple storylines make for plenty of head-scratching among the thrills.

FRANCES HA (15) THE current queen of kook, Greta Gerwig, inset below, stumbles through New York in an offbeat but engaging comedy drama directed by her boyfriend, Noah Baumbach (Greenberg, The Squid And The Whale).

When her roommate announces she's moving out, the hapless, part- time dancer Frances (Gerwig) is forced to look for new digs, a journey fraught with difficulty given Manhattan's soaring rents.

There's not a great deal of story here, but the film gets by on Gerwig's charm and her klutzy, accident-prone character is a delight to watch. Shot in black and white, and in homage to the French New Wave, it might be this year's most unusual comedy. But I reckon it might be one of the very best.

DIAL M FOR MURDER 3D (PG) AFTER two impressive biopics about the legendary director, this neatly crafted Alfred Hitchcock, pictured, thriller from 1954 returns to the big screen as it's re-released in 3D. Based on Frederick Knott's play of the same name, the film stars Ray Milland as a cuckolded husband who devises a plan for his wife's murder, which then goes horribly wrong.

Also starring Grace Kelly, Anthony Dawson and Hitchcock regular Robert Cummings, it may not be up there with Psycho or Rear Window, but it is certainly gripping stuff.

BLACKFISH (15) ONE of the most depressing moments of my professional career occurred in 2006 during a trip to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. The highlight was meant to be a show featuring a performing killer whale, but it more resembled a circus as a magnificent creature of the deep was reduced to leaping from the water for tricks.

This expertly crafted documentary examines the miserable life of Tilikum, a 12,000lb orca who's managed to kill three adults, two of them trainers, since his capture in 1983.

The case put forward is that the animal's tortured mental state was surely a factor. Featuring interviews with experts and former trainers, the film builds a profoundly moving and unquestionable case against these intelligent mammals being held in captivity. A must-see.

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