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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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By George Psyllides PRIVATE auditors have expressed doubt the electricity authority (EAC) could be considered a going concern and have asked its board to draft a credible plan to tackle the problem, according to the auditor-general’s 2012 report on the semi-state company. Among other issues, ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Metrosexual vs. macho ]

Metrosexual vs. macho

A SLAPDASH ROM-COM AND A HARD-BOILED COP THRILLER

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL **
DIRECTED BY Nicholas Stoller
STARRING Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand
US 2008 112 mins.

STREET KINGS ***
DIRECTED BY David Ayer
STARRING Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans
US 2008 109 mins.


There’s a scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall when it briefly echoes the premise of Noel Coward’s Private Lives, written in 1930: a couple, now separated, accidentally book adjoining suites in the hotel where they’re staying with their new partners. The only difference is that one half of the couple (the guy) doesn’t have a new partner in this case – but the film is so slapdash it’s impossible to tell if the Coward reference is deliberate, or if Jason Segel (who stars, and wrote the script) just kind of drifted in sync with it. Not that it matters, of course: no-one’s going to say ‘They’re channelling Noel Coward, ergo this film is a masterpiece’. It would just be nice to know what kind of film we’re dealing with: a sophisticated comedy, or a raucous laugh-riot that wouldn’t know Noel Coward from Noel Edmonds.

At times it feels like the first kind, especially when the two couples – our hero’s found a new squeeze by this point – share an awkward dinner, besieged by an over-solicitous waiter, proceeding from uncomfortable silence through numerous bottles of wine to barbed insults and barely-disguised one-upmanship (or upwomanship). Then again, it often feels like the second kind – willing to do anything for a laugh, feeling less like Noel Coward than the Hawaii-set Adam Sandler vehicle 50 First Dates. Here are friendly natives, an obese bartender, a scruffy brain-dead surfer with a line in non sequiturs – “The weather outside is weather” – here are quirky touches like our hero’s pet project, a musical version of Dracula done entirely with puppets. Here’s a baffling sub-plot about a pair of Bible-Belt newlyweds painfully learning the facts of life, including the kinky parts: “If God were a town planner, He would NOT put a playground next to a sewage system!”. You get the feeling that if Segel and Co. could somehow have worked in a joke about a tap-dancing penguin (in Hawaii? why not?) they’d have done so in a heartbeat.

Actually, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is aptly named: having set up its plot, with Peter (our hero) going to Hawaii to get over his break-up with Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) – only to find Sarah and her new boyfriend at the same resort – it then Forgets all about Sarah Marshall, piling up irrelevant scenes as Peter starts to move on. In fact, Sarah comes out of it quite badly – a final-act speech where she claims she tried to save their relationship seems too little, too late – a bimbo actress in a C.S.I.-type show called Crime Scene, worried mostly about her career. Peter, on the other hand, comes out of it quite well – giving, New Man-ish, sensitive (“Jesus,” pleads his new girlfriend, “would you stop being so sensitive?”) – and knowing Segel wrote this plum part for himself (complete with nude scenes) brings the film uncomfortably close to narcissism, though it also acts as a reminder that Sarah Marshall comes “From the guys who brought you The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up”.

As in Virgin, with its endless and gratuitous hair-waxing scene, the film is self-indulgent, stopping the plot with whatever takes its fancy. As in Knocked Up, the showbiz satire works best, like the brief clips we see of Crime Scene, William Baldwin as the head C.S.I. dude standing over a covered corpse (“What do you think?’ asks Sarah Marshall; “I think it’s going to be hard for her to re-enter the pageant,” he replies grimly, “without a face!”). Above all, as in Knocked Up, it’s considered plausible that not one but two stunning women would fall in love with a chubby, blubbery slacker like our hero – and this one goes further, in that Sarah Marshall is punished for having abandoned him. Female viewers seem to love these films (certainly this one, when I saw it at the Cineplex) yet they’re actually quite sexist: the woman’s place is to ‘get’ our hero, applaud his creativity, soothe his insecurities and generally live on his terms. He doesn’t even have to move to Hawaii for the happy ending.

Maybe that’s why the only clear theme in this sloppy, coarse, sometimes funny film is the Power of Sex – the one arena where chubby slackers can live on equal terms with model-shaped goddesses. Segel gets naked, of course, and Russell Brand is splendid as the love-god boyfriend who finally tutors the newlywed yokels in the ways of the flesh – but the most telling scene is perhaps near the end, when Peter succumbs to Sarah Marshall’s wiles, only to find that his member refuses to play along. Feelings are devious, but sexual attraction doesn’t lie; if there’s a Message to the film it’s undoubtedly “Trust the penis”. Noel Coward never said it, but I’m sure he always meant to.

More penis-thrusting in Street Kings, though only metaphorically; this is Testosterone Central, a bear-pit of snarling macho men vying for supremacy – and a strange place to find Keanu Reeves, as the toughest cop in LA. The opening sequence charts our hero’s daily routine – checking his gun the moment he wakes up, buying a few mini-bottles of vodka for breakfast, going after suspects in a rough part of town – but it’s no good: at 43, Zen-faced Keanu looks less like a raddled cop with a history of violence than a windsurf-instructor edging into middle age.

Fortunately, this suits the film’s purposes: co-written by crime novelist supreme James Ellroy, directed by David Ayer – a specialist in crooked cops who wrote the superb Training Day (2001) – Street Kings casts Keanu as Essence of Cop, capturing the bruised glamour behind the profession. He’s violent but also idealistic, doing all he can to avenge his partner, still in touch with the cop’s basic tenet of going after “bad people” (even when he tortures a suspect with his patented phone-book technique, it’s played for laughs: “Aren’t you supposed to ask him something first?” notes sidekick Chris Evans). He’s not the problem – well, not really – it’s the System that’s the problem, cops on the make, using our hero for their own purposes, whether his beloved Chief (eccentrically played by Forest Whitaker) or the “cop who burns cops” in Internal Affairs, played with a sneer of disdain by Hugh Laurie.

Street Kings paints the LAPD as a kind of dysfunctional family, everyone privy to each other’s secrets; even sworn enemies Whitaker and Laurie know each other from “when we were sergeants” (Keanu’s ethereal mien, on the other hand, marks him out as a loner). The problem is that this kind of pungent crime thriller has been done to death on TV lately, especially The Wire and The Shield (Laurie’s sardonic presence also recalls his role in House) – but the film still impresses, moodily photographed in burnished shades of darkness by horror-movie specialist Gabriel Beristain, going from one ghetto lowlife, cold-eyed killer and big swinging dick to another.

“You need me,” our hero tells his smug superiors; they need him – society needs him – to do their dirty work, face down the monsters, “clean up the needles and baby parts”. Street Kings works thanks to its rueful cynicism, claiming the only thing worse than having violent cops would be not having violent cops; it’s a hard-boiled action thriller, following in the wake of Training Day and early-90s crime flicks like Deep Cover (1992) and Carlito’s Way (1993). Metrosexual Peter from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, with his girly tears and waggling man-breasts and Sex and the City references, wouldn’t last a day in the Street Kings world. Then again, why would he want to?


NEW DVD RELEASES

Here’s our regular look at the more interesting titles released on DVD in the US and UK over the past few months. Some may be available to rent from local video clubs, or you can always order over the Internet: dozens of suppliers, but http://www.amazon.com (for US) and http://www.play.com (for UK) are among the most reliable, if not necessarily the cheapest. Prices quoted don’t include shipping. Note that US discs are ‘Region 1’, and require a multi-region player.

NEW FILMS

THERE WILL BE BLOOD: Probably last year’s most acclaimed American film, an eccentric character study with Oscar-winning Daniel Day-Lewis as oilman ‘Daniel Plainview’. 2-disc package includes trailers, deleted scenes as well as ‘The Story of Petroleum’, a 25-minute film made by the US Bureau of Mining in 1923! [US]

SILENT LIGHT: Arty but astonishing film, made in Mexico but mostly in German; the first shot alone is worth the DVD purchase price. Extras include a lengthy making-of. [UK]

DON’T TOUCH THE AXE: Period drama from veteran director Jacques Rivette, more sedate than its title (but still enjoyable). No real extras. [UK]

JUNO: Some find her annoying, others (like me) think she’s hilarious. Oscar-nominated Ellen Page as pregnant teen, lavish 2-disc package including 11 deleted scenes, commentary, screen tests, featurettes and more. [US/UK]

CHROMOPHOBIA: British drama showing how “every family has its secrets”, directed by Martha Fiennes – but more notable for its cast, including Penelope Cruz, Ian Holm and Martha’s brother Ralph. No real extras. [UK]

OLD FILMS

THE MIKE LEIGH FILM COLLECTION: One of the DVD events of the year! Mike Leigh – who makes his films through a rigorous rehearsal process, creating a script in collaboration with the actors – is some kind of genius, and this box-set brings together 10 of his films (plus a bonus disc of extras) for a mere ?42 from most online retailers. Starting with his debut ‘Bleak Moments’ (1971), also including ‘Naked’ (1993), ‘Secrets and Lies’ (1996), the magnificent ‘Topsy-Turvy’ (1999) and his latest, ‘Vera Drake’ (2004). Extras include a 70-minute special called ‘Mike Leigh in Conversation’, talking to one of his cast members from each film. A must-have and a bargain. [UK]

A PASSAGE TO INDIA (1984) (Collector’s Edition): David Lean’s final film hasn’t aged well – but impressive 2-disc package includes commentary and 7 featurettes on the movie. [US]

THE WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS CLASSIC CARTOON COLLECTION, VOL. 2: [Insert imitation of a woodpecker here.] [US]







(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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