UK Cinema Releases: Friday 11th March 2011

Battle: Los Angeles (Sony Pictures): Sci-fi action film about a Marine platoon fighting an alien invasion in Los Angeles. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman and starring Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan and Michael Pena.[12A] [Reviews] [Trailer]

Fair Game (Entertainment One): Political drama about CIA agent Valerie Plame and her diplomat husband in the run up to the Iraq War. Directed by Doug Liman and starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. [12A] [Reviews] [Trailer] [Read our review]

The Company Men (Universal): Drama about workers struggling to cope with corporate lay offs during the current recession. Directed by John Wells and starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper and Rosemary DeWitt.[15] [Reviews] [Trailer] [Read our review here]

Hall Pass (warner Bros.): Comedy about a married man granted the opportunity to have an affair by his wife. Directed by The Farrelly Brothers and starring Owen Wilson and Christina Applegate. [15] [Reviews] [Trailer]

The Resident (Icon): Horror film about a young doctor suspects she may not be alone in her new Brooklyn apartment. Directed by Antti Jokinen and starring Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Christopher Lee. [15] [Reviews] [Trailer]


His & Hers (Element Pictures Distribution): Documentary about Irish women and their views on men. Directed by Ken Wardrop. [Trailer]

Legacy: Black Ops (Revolver): Conpsiracy thriller about a solider on the verge of a breakdown. Directed by Thomas Ikimi and starring Idris Elba, Eamon Walker and Monique Gabriela. [Trailer] [Reviews]

Norwegian Wood (Soda Pictures): Drama based on the 1987 novel by Haruki Murakami about two lovers struggling to deal with their past in 1960s Tokyo. Directed by Tran Anh Hung and starring Rinko Kikuchi. [15] [Reviews] [Trailer]

Life Goes On (SD Films): British-Asian drama about family struggles. Directed by Sangeeta Datta and starring Om Puri, Sharmila Tagore and Girish Karnad. [12A] [Reviews] [Trailer]

Living In Emergency (Arts Alliance): A documentary about humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières who provide emergency medical help to distressed countries. Directed by Mark Hopkins. [15] [Reviews] [Trailer]

> Get local cinema showtimes at Google Movies or FindAnyFilm
> UK DVD & Blu-ray releases for Monday 7th March 2011, including Life in a Day and Traffik

Cinema Reviews Thoughts

The Company Men

It didn’t find an audience in the US but this drama is a thoughtful depiction of the American workplace during the current recession.

Exploring the contemporary economic malaise through the lens of a fictional Massachusetts company GTX, the story focuses on various employees as they gradually feel the effects of corporate downsizing.

The principle focus is on a cocksure sales guy (Ben Affleck) in his late 30s; his veteran colleague (Chris Cooper) and the company’s co-founder (Tommy Lee Jones) as they all try to deal with the pressures applied by their cost-cutting CEO (Craig T Nelson).

As they have to deal with the soul destroying effects of losing their white-collar livelihoods, they all struggle to cope with unemployment and its impact on their personal and professional lives.

Director John Wells has had an illustrious career in television with megahits like ER and The West Wing, and like those shows his debut feature deals with white-collar workers and contemporary social issues.

Some will criticise the film for not dealing with those lower down the economic food chain, but it is arguably more daring to examine the soured dreams of the American middle class.

Although by no means perfect, it is a restrained but compelling portrait of people coming to terms with the uncertainty and despair following the financial collapse of 2008.

Wells has assembled an excellent ensemble cast: Affleck convincingly displays the arc of a complacent man gradually humbled by circumstance; Rosemary DeWitt is an effective voice of reason and love as his wife; Jones brings a wise, grizzled anger to his part whilst Cooper paints a haunting portrait of an older worker in despair.

The supporting turns are also of a high standard: Nelson makes for a ruthlessly logical boss; Maria Bello is his conflicted hatchet woman; whilst Kevin Costner has his best role in some time as Affleck’s blue-collar brother-in-law who offers him work.

Set in sterile corporate offices or suburban houses, the hiring Roger Deakins as cinematographer was a master stroke: not only does he light these environments with his customary skill and taste, but he also brings a visual elegance to the film which is so well executed you barely notice it.

This is not a film with especially earth shattering revelations, as anyone with a brain can deduce that unemployment leads to misery and despair.

But the screenplay, based on extensive interviews and research, is filled with painfully accurate touches: the outplacement seminars designed to help laid off workers; the corporate obsession with the stock market; the quiet agony of trying to get re-employed, the effects on loved ones and the struggle to re-establish an identity defined by a job.

Coming at time when America and Europe is only just coming to terms with the scope of the late 2000s recession, the film is powerful reminder of the Capitalism gone horribly wrong.

No doubt that is why audiences have largely stayed away from the film, as this is a raw subject, perhaps too close to home for many individuals and families affected by job losses.

There are times when the screenplay and guitar-inflected score reach for sentimental uplift, but overall the message throughout is fairly subversive for a mainstream American film.

Not only does it point out the callow nature of corporate America but also highlights the emptiness of material possessions and shallow thinking that played a part in inflating the sub-prime mortgage bubble.

An unusually bold film, it deserves credit for confronting an issue that will unfortunately be around for some time to come.

> Official site
> Reviews of The Company Men at Metacritic
> Find out more about the late-2000s recession at Wikipedia