Rocknrolla (15) Although director Guy Ritchie plumbed the depths with his last two movies (Revolver and Swept Away ), Warner Bros will be aiming for this London-set gangster caper to signal redemption for the British director. Despite a spaghetti-shaped narrative and too many cockney gangsterisms, this is a deliberate throwback to the subject and style of Ritchie’s earlier work like Lock, Stock… and Snatch. Some of it feels strangely dated but for the most part it is watchable, has an impressive cast (including Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Toby Kebbell, Thandie Newton & Mark Strong) and goes into the weekend as the box office favourite.
The Duchess (12A): Pathe will be hoping that a period costume drama starring Kiera Knightley as an unhappy 18th century aristocrat (Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire) will tempt the female and highbrow audiences. The recent faux-controversy about Princess Diana being used to market the film (the main character is distantly related to her) seems a little stage managed, but the main problem this film has is that, despite some decent production values and competent performances, it is essentially a TV costume drama with a more handsome budget. Although Knightley has become a big star (mainly down to the Pirates franchise), she has yet to really prove herself as someone who can open a movie. Despite the presence of Ralph Fiennes in a key supporting role, this will be an interesting test of a film heavily marketed on her pulling power alone.
Bangkok Dangerous (18): The Pang Brothers remake their own 1998 thriller stars Nicolas Cage as a hit man in Bangkok. Entertainment will be hoping action fans will turn out for this one, but given the lack of buzz, a key change to the original film and wildly erratic career of Cage it is difficult to gauge how this one will do. I imagine the target audience at the multiplex will opt to choose Rocknrolla, if their girlfriends haven’t already dragged them to The Duchess. It opens in the US today as well, although I suspect if it does any real box office it will be in foreign and ancillary markets.
Disaster Movie (12A): One can only hope that the US box office failure of this spoof will signal justice for the cinematic crimes Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have inflicted upon audiences. In case you are unaware, they are the team behind a series of wildy unfunny – but bafflingly successful – comedies such as Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans. The formula is to just spoof recent hits at the box office along a certain theme. However, the cycle now looks in trouble as last week potential viewers might have found the release of this film on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to be a little too much. Momentum will be hoping less discerning viewers see it or at least buy the DVD in the near future.
IN SELECTED RELEASE
El Cantante (15): Revelation Films are the UK distributor for this film based on the life story of salsa singer Héctor Lavoe (who is played in the film by Marc Anthony). The main point of interest from a commercial viewpoint is that Jennifer Lopez starred and produced in it, but it gets a release two years after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and a full year after bombing at the US box office to mixed reviews. Given the dramatic decline of Lopez as a box office star and the niche appeal of the story, it is hard to see this doing any real business. [Opens in Select Key Cities]
Never Apologise (15): Verve Pictures give a limited release for this documentary about director Lindsay Anderson, who made such films as This Sporting Life (1963), If…. (1968) and O Lucky Man! (1973). It is narrated by Malcolm McDowell, who was a friend and collaborator. [Opens at the Curzon Soho & selected Key Cities]
Sweet Land (PG): Revelation Films release this 2005 independent film about a woman who travels from Germany to Minnesota in order to meet the man destined to be her husband. [Opens in Select Key Cities]
Mera Pind – My Home (U): Adlabs release this film centered around a Punjabi village, starring Navjot Singh Sidhu and Harbhajan Mann. [Opens at C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, Staples Corner, Wood Green & Nationwide]
> Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms
> Check out the full UK release schedule for cinemas this month
> DVD releases for this week (W/C Monday 1st September)