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May 2011

Accidents Will Happen, Even When Love Is by Design

MOVIE REVIEW
Submarine (2011)

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Dean Rogers/The Weinstein Company

Oliver Tate — the 15-year-old protagonist played by Craig Roberts in Richard Ayoade’s feature-length directorial debut “Submarine” — expresses one of his desires to the audience early on in the film through voice-over narration: “I suppose it’s a bit of an affectation, but I often wish there was a film crew following my every move.” It’s a (sort of) clever gag since Mr. Ayoade is doing just that during the film’s 97-minute running time, and it’s also a standard representation of the type of comedy to follow: quirky, droll, almost mature, supposedly original. But while this kind of comedic bildungsroman has been repeatedly overdone, what saves “Submarine” from becoming the ugly sister to “Napoleon Dynamite” is its smart and strongly developed central character.

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Besides Adulthood, Nothing Is Confirmed

MOVIE REVIEW
Love Like Poison (2010)

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Films Distribution

There is a disturbing recent trend in French cinema regarding teenage actresses, their bodies and the exploration of their sexuality as the plot of a film and the camera's exploration of their flesh as the milieu. This trend has, one hopes, achieved its apex in "Love Like Poison," a story so confused and degrading that the only sympathetic, normal character is a priest.

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The Crime-Fighting Irish

MOVIE REVIEW
The Guard (2011)

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Sony Pictures Classics

“The Guard” is that rare breed of crime story that involves a passive protagonist, à la “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” It’s not that the protagonist in “The Guard,” Brendan Gleeson’s Sgt. Boyle, apathetically takes a backseat as events unfold. He is simply more occupied with cracking wise, cavorting with prostitutes and tending to his dying mother than actually solving the case at hand. It is quite an achievement, then, that writer-director John Michael McDonagh manages to calculatingly frustrate and engage viewers simultaneously through the duration of the film.

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Out in the Sticks, a Bish-Bash-Bosh Journey

MOVIE REVIEW
The Trip (2011)

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Phil Fisk/IFC Films

One can never accuse Michael Winterbottom of making the same film twice, but “The Trip” comes pretty darn close. To be fair, the project is a six-episode BBC Two series edited down to feature length, but here you have Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon again as themselves à la “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.” The premise involves Mr. Coogan embarking on a cross-country journey to sample a few eclectic restaurants, and Mr. Brydon tagging along after Mr. Coogan’s American girlfriend drops out. Although fashioned after “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” what transpires instead is a British “Sideways” or “Old Joy” that substitutes celebrity impersonations for midlife crises — and not with stellar results.

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