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On this page: GONE TOO FAR
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last update 7.Oct.14
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Gone Too Far!
dir Destiny Ekaragha
scr Bola Agbaje
prd Christopher Granier-Deferre
with Malachi Kirby, OC Ukeje, Golda John, Tosin Cole, Shanika Warren-Markland, Adelayo Adedayo, Michael Maris, Bhasker Patel, Pooja Shah, Kulvinder Ghir, Ashley Chin, Eddie Ruben
kirby and ukeje release UK 10.Oct.14
13/UK 1h28

london film festival
Gone Too Far! With a strong blast of local humour, this comedy captures the ethnic mix of a South London community using riotous slapstick, knowing dialog and rather nutty characters. It's far too silly to have a proper kick to it, but it's bright and cheeky, and the script touches on some big issues without ever getting heavy about them.

Lively teen Yemi (Kirby) isn't sure how to cope with the arrival of his big brother Iku (Okeje) from Nigeria, knowing he'll only embarrass him by not having a clue about how things work in Peckham. Sure enough, Iku comes across as a clueless goofball who wears socks with his sandals and thinks he's super-cool. And now Iku is messing up Yemi's attempts to woo local diva Armani (Warren-Markland). Their no-nonsense mother (John) tells them to just get on with it, sending them to the shop together to get some okra for dinner.

All of this plays out as a real time mini-adventure. Kirby and Okeje are a terrific double-act, maintaining their sassy banter all the way through the film, with funny encounters, goofy antics and lots of attitude. Yes, it's all rather broad, and the set-up couldn't be much simpler, as Yemi chases Armani despite interference from the interloper Iku. Yemi's pal Razer (Cole) and Armani's cohort Paris (Adedayo) complicate things a bit, but it's the brothers' interaction that keeps the audience smiling.

Writer Agbaje and director Ekaragha create a terrific sense of the eclectic culture, lacing the dialog with often impenetrable idioms and witty gags like the appearance of a racist dog. While Kirby and Okeje keep everything moving, the surrounding cast is more uneven. Some actors have superb comical timing, while others get too caught up in the slapstick and become deeply annoying. Relationships are extremely predictable, and it all ends up in a corny brawl.

This is a breezy exploration of ethnic heritage. Yemi believes that his indifference to his Nigerian background doesn't make him self-hating. Others raucously debate their differences in constant discussions about black identity, complete with surges of resentment between the West Indians and Africans ("Your people sold my ancestors into slavery!"). All of this is cleverly set in a community that's a full-on cultural mash-up, with Indian shops next to Chinese cafes. And it's in the mix that life gets colourful.

12 themes, language, violence
18.Oct.13 lff
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dir Mike Hanus
scr Mike Hanus, Guy Christie, Duncan MacLellan, Jason Burkart, Silvana Azurdia
prd Mike Hanus, Silvana Azurdia, McKinley Hlady
with Mike Hanus, Guy Christie, Silvana Azurdia, Julian Paul, Jason Burkart, Jamie Kennedy, Robb Wells, Nicole Sullivan, Pamela Anderson, Claude Duhamel, Duncan MacLellan, Peter Shinkoda
christie and hanus release US 2.Sep.14
14/Canada 1h36
Jackhammer Relentlessly silly, this Canadian comedy is packed with enjoyably moronic characters and some knowing pastiche, but it's ultimately too inane to hold the interest. The plot stalls badly about halfway in, and some of the jokes are ham-fisted. But the big problem is that, for a comedy about male strippers, the movie seems terrified of anything remotely sexy.

After aspiring actor Julius (Christie) botches an audition for top casting director Lance (Kennedy), his entire life crashes down around him. With nowhere to live, he moves in with his big brother Hammer (Hanus), a swaggering muscleman stripper with a fake moustache. Hammer gets Julius a job with his agent Igor (Paul) and helps him train with champion stripper Frederick (Burkart) to make some real money. Then just as Julius decides this isn't the career for him, Hammer's debts to his protein dealer Rocko (Wells) catch up with him.

Actor-filmmaker Hanus assembles this in a colourful, broadly comical style that indulges in goofy effects, camp performances and utterly chaotic plotting. Fortunately Hammer is a relatively engaging idiot. He knows he's a super-successful "peeler" and thinks he has a future as a rapper (cue a couple of ridiculous musical numbers). He also utterly ignores his girlfriend (Azurdia) and criticises Julius for looking and acting gay, when Hammer's the one who's a textbook closet-case.

It's here that Hanus crosses a line: using continual gay innuendo in a way that's ultimately deeply homophobic. This is an oddly misogynistic movie, leering at topless women while the male strippers at the centre of the story remain essentially clothed, demonstrating a crippling fear of the penis. Perhaps this is part of the joke, but the film's sense of humour isn't that sophisticated. Magic Mike it ain't.

Even so, until the story derails, the movie is rather charming, peppered with hilarious one-liners and inspired sequences (the training montage is funny). Yes, some jokes do hit their target even if the actors never quite get beyond the comedy-sketch vibe. Then in the final half-hour everything gets stuck in a rut of pointless revenge, only livened up by a witty appearance from Pamela Anderson as a stalker groupie. And if that's the high point, you know you're in trouble.

15 themes, language, drugs
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dir-scr Dave McKean
prd Simon Moorhead
with Ben Daniels, Dervla Kirwan, Michael Maloney, Stephanie Leonidas, Maurice Roeves, Katia Winter, Laura Michaels, George Brooks, Liam McKean, Ben Parr, Godfrey Jackman, Sonny Notaro
daniels and maloney release UK 3.Oct.14
14/UK 1h43
Luna Beautiful filmmaking makes this relentlessly obtuse art film rather mesmerising to watch. But it's impossible to make any real sense of it. There are plenty of pungent emotions to latch onto, but scenes are packed with symbolism and artful flights of fancy that are impossible to decode.

Grant and Christine (Daniels and Kirwan) are still reeling from the death of their infant son, but decide to head off to meet their art college pal Dean (Maloney), celebrating his birthday in the isolated coastal home where he lives with his young wife Fraya (Leonidas). As with most reunions, these old friends find plenty of joy in being back together, although old wounds are opened as well. And Grant and Christine find themselves unable to avoid imagining their son all around them.

These fantasies swirl in strikingly rendered effects that are unsettling and creepy, circling around issues of grief, danger and death. At times, these visions cause Grant or Christine to do something worrying. Or maybe they're just dreaming this. Writer-director McKean cleverly weaves these visions into every scene in the film, echoing in the artwork drawn by both Grant and Dean, as well as origami animals, the gothic surrounding woods and the rugged coastline.

Meanwhile, the dialog is packed with pointed commentary, including a local legend involving death and underlying secrets, a couple of nasty political arguments and revelations of secrets from the past. Maloney and Daniels are superb as men who don't like to share their inner emotions but have very strong feelings about everything. Leonidas is a blast of fresh air as the pragmatic journalist who knows how to push buttons and soothe ruffled feathers. And Kirwan is the soul of the film as a woman who can't help but picture the possibility of her lost son's life.

But what the birds and crabs mean is anyone's guess. Or the odd attentions of a local doctor (Roeves). Or the variety of imaginary people who wander in and out of scenes doing things that don't quite ring true. It's clear that McKean knows exactly what every detail means, but he prefers to let mystery wash over the audience rather than reveal it. And that leaves us on the outside looking in, unable to properly engage with the realistic emotions and the often strikingly honest interaction between the characters. Although watching it is certainly a haunting experience.

15 themes, language, violence, sexuality
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Not Cool
dir Shane Dawson
scr Dan Schoffer
prd Shane Dawson, Lauren Schnipper, Josh Shader
with Cherami Leigh, Shane Dawson, Drew Monson, Michelle Veintimilla, Lisa Schwartz, Bill Laing, Kasey Daley, John Yost, Ryan Radis, Jorie Kosel, Jason Shavers, Maneesh Sasikumar
leigh and dawson release US 19.Sep.14
14/US Starz 1h33
Not Cool With the standard structure of a bickering romantic-comedy, this movie has just about enough chemistry and charm to overcome the broadly inane goofiness that fills most scenes. So while most of the side characters are cartoonish nutcases, at least the central figures are engaging. And for all of its rude, snarky surfaces, the film has a surprisingly soft centre.

After a term at university, Tori (Leigh) is heading home to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, dreading spending time with her too-perky parents (Daley and Yost) and hyperactive blind sister (Schwartz). Then she runs into Scott (Dawson), the hot guy who made her life miserable in high school and, annoyingly, they now seem to have rather a lot in common. Meanwhile, Tori's nerdy friend Joel (Monson) is also back in town, and he believes that as a college student he now has a chance to finally date Scott's little sister Janie (Veintimilla).

The main theme here is of course reinvention, as all three of these returning students have managed to shake off high school reputations and become someone new at university. But this hasn't made life any easier. Along the way there are some tellingly observant scenes in which these characters explore what all of this means. But these engaging moments are constantly interrupted by the movie's broad sketch-comedy sense of humour, which piles on garish jokes and gross-out gags.

While the likeable central actors unearth some genuine comedy and emotion, the supporting cast essentially mugs to the camera in exaggerated pastiche roles. This includes two female characters played by guys in drag, plus zany slapstick roles like Scott's clinically insane aunt (Laurel George) and a sex-obsessed hobo (Gabbie Dukes). The problem is that these characters are so ridiculous that they undermine the more resonant character-based comedy.

The film's subtler wit shines in scenes that capture the ritual humiliations of going home for the holidays and facing people who assume you're the same person you used to be. As well as the surprising discovery that you may have more in common with childhood nemeses than you thought. And the importance of not trying to keep a foot in the past. So while a darker stream of sharp, witty sarcasm flows underneath the story, the colourful idiocy is so distracting that it leaves the film looking as vacuous as Janie's mean-girl pals.

15 themes, language, sexuality
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