Men in Black 3 (PG)
Third time’s a charm for the sharp-suited Men In Black, who rediscover their mojo 10 years after the lacklustre second installment with this hare-brained time-travelling caper that propels Agent J (Will Smith) back to July 1969 to prevent an extra-terrestrial assassin called Boris (Jemaine Clement) from slaying the young Agent K (Josh Brolin), thereby altering the course of history. Working in 3D for the first time, director Barry Sonnenfeld imbues each breathlessly orchestrated scene with impish humour, from a protracted kiss that churns stomachs to a slime-slathered skirmish with a giant fish. Emma Thompson lends gravitas to the role of MIB boss O but invariably Smith’s wise-cracking and imaginative production design are the constant sources of wonder.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (12A)
What to expect from Kirk Jones’s comedy? Dramatic contrivances, gooey sentiment and occasional zinging one-liners. Set in Atlanta, the disjointed plot concerns five couples who are feeling the strain of impending parenthood. Among the terrified throng are keep fit guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) and her dancer beau (Matthew Morrison); and cash-strapped photographer Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and her baby-shy husband (Rodrigo Santoro). What To Expect… shoehorns a menagerie of under-written characters into 110 predictable and undemanding minutes, replete with tears, tantrums and an amusingly accident-prone tyke called Jackson, who seems destined for A&E. Cheryl Cole cameos on the judging panel of Celebrity Dance Factor, telling one participant in warm Geordie tones, “It was a national disaster!” Jones’s film certainly is that bad and the delivery is far from smooth.
Iron Sky (15)
Too many cooks spoil Finnish director Timo Vuorensola’s sci-fi comedy broth, the product of an ambitious three-year collaboration between filmmakers and an online community of contributors, who were invited to let their creative juices cascade over every aspect of the production. There’s a seed of a good idea here: Nazis landed on the moon in 1946 and have been amassing an army, which is braced to invade 2018 Earth and realise the Führer’s sick dream. Alas, the scriptwriters are poorly equipped to create detailed characters or a fluid narrative, allowing a running joke about the hero’s skin colour to wheeze to the point of exhaustion. Visual effects are polished and a couple of one-liners sparkle but the film’s wrapping is ultimately more interesting than its questionable substance.
The London International Documentary Film Festival
Spread over 10 days at venues across the capital, the UK’s largest documentary film festival boasts more than 150 screenings from 49 countries, plus various special events and panel discussions, all programmed to prick consciences, provoke debate and fire imaginations. The European premiere of Jean-Philippe Tremblay’s Shadows Of Liberty opens proceedings on May 24, providing a timely dissection of media accountability and the influence exerted by powerful corporations on a supposedly free press. The closing night gala is War Matador, a coruscating snapshot of the Gaza conflict, captured in uncomfortable close-up by Israeli directors Avner Faingulernt and Macabit Abramson. In between, the festival runs the gamut of bravura, hard-hitting investigative journalism and playful whimsy, threaded with three strands of short films.
The London International Documentary Film Festival
HMS President/ The Horse Hospital/ Portobello Pop UP Cinema/Roundhouse/Roxy Bar And Screen/Sheikh Zayed Theatre, LSE/ Soho Hotel
May 24 – June 2
Screenings £6, venue passes £10-£65, festival passes £50-£180
Martin Scorsese Marathon (18)
For years, it seemed Martin Scorsese was destined to endure Academy Award blues much like Alfred Hitchcock. Thankfully, his remake of The Departed with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon righted that terrible injustice, confirming Scorsese’s place in the pantheon of cinema’s true greats. Relive some of the his finest moments at this aptly named all-nighter, which begins with the searing 1973 crime thriller Mean Streets, and gets grimier with Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. You can’t buy tickets to individual films: it’s 735 minutes of violence and intimidation or bust. “Twelve hours of work and I still can’t sleep,” remarks psychotic cabbie Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) – there won’t be any snoozing at the Prince Charles either.
Half Nelson (15)
Set in present day Brooklyn, Ryan Fleck’s film, co-written with girlfriend Anna Boden, pulls no punches in its depiction of two loners – junior school history teacher Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) and pupil Drey (Shareeka Epps) – who have learned to numb the pain of disappointment, either by getting high or by settling for the meagre lot that life has dealt them. Holding us in a vice-like grip, Half Nelson is a haunting slice of life, which suggests there are no easy solutions for Dan and Drey. Gosling is electrifying but newcomer Epps is equally impressive, revealing the sweetness and vulnerability behind her character’s stony facade. Those who can, teach. Those who can’t, endure a harsh lesson in the darker side of human nature.
Half Nelson (screening as a double bill with Shame)
52 High Road, N2 9PJ
Nearest tube: East Finchley
£9.50, concs £7
Revered American filmmaker Robert Altman once observed, “What’s a cult? It just means not enough people to make a minority.” Visitors to Cine-Excess would disagree. This annual three-day international film festival and conference trumpets cult films, past and present, focusing on different national attitudes to extreme and outlandish themes. Italian directors Sergio Martino and Enzo G Castellari, whose 1977 war opus The Inglorious Bastards inspired Quentin Tarantino’s similarly-titled bloodbath, are the special guests of honour at this year’s gathering. Both will present gems from their back catalogue and take part in illuminating On Stage discussions about their careers behind the camera. Meanwhile, Giorgio Amato’s disturbing CCTV horror Closed Circuit Extreme and Julian Richards’s serial killer thriller Shiver bid to become cult classics of the future.
Odeon Covent Garden and The Italian Cultural Institute, London
Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner/Leicester Square
£7 and £12, concs £7.50, delegate passes £85 & £150, concs £50 & £75