Youth In Revolt - THE REVIEW

Believe it or not, it is possible for Michael Cera to get even more 'Michael Cera'. If you thought Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist was the last word in skinny jeans angst, shame on you. If you reckoned Juno was the ultimate in oddball attitude, prepare yourself. Youth In Revolt is Michael Cera doing 'Michael Cera' turned up to eleven (but still sounding deliciously weedy).

Meet geeky Nick Twisp, wannabe writer and luckless lover stuck in downtown Nowheresville, living with his trashy mom (Jean Smart) and her latest lover (the weird brilliance of Zach Galifianakis). When the family have to escape from a dodgy business deal, they go to a campsite for a week to hideout. It's here that Nick meets Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), a poster girl for sensitive types. She loves French cinema, vinyl records and obscure poetry. Nick is totally in love. Hell, I was totally in love.

But are his retro t-shirts and ironic chinos enough for her? To make sure, Nick turns into the rebel of Sheeni's fantasies, conjuring up a bad boy alter ego called Francois Dillinger and trying to impress her with his criminal deeds.

It's at this point that the early, deadpan beauty of the first part of the movie - like Juno's wit crossed with Dirty Dancing's first-love-at-a-holiday-park theme - gets a little far-fetched as Nick/Francois gets involved in arson, drugs and cross-dressing. It's essentially a geeky teen movie version of Fight Club. A nice idea - and great to see Cera in a double role as the sleazy Francois - but difficult to pull off unless you really go as dark as David Fincher did. This favours quirky animation over Meat Loaf with man-boobs.

But view this as a small, cute, cult movie and Youth In Revolt is a sweet little thing. Cera has truly carved out a unique role for himself; hilariously outraged and prissy yet dedicated and optimistic. Only he can spout stuffy lines such as 'I refuse to stand for these allegations' with such nerdy integrity. I'm sure he knows that the joke will one day wear thin. But for now, such an effortless oddness is still a wonderful thing to watch.

Have a trailer on me:

Sherlock Holmes - THE REVIEW

This is the classiest pic that Guy Rich-Tea has ever made.
This is the wannabe geezer in mainstream, family territory for the first time and you know what, it suits the ex-Mr Madge. By reigning in the traits that made his name - but which soon became cliches - but by still using his sharp eye for a slick moment, he's created a great action movie. It's got an Indiana Jones feel to it, that kind of old-skool caper. A romp. The sequel potential is massive - and I actually hope there is one.

Sure, this has got some of Guy's trademark flash - fast cuts, replaying scenes from different points-of-view - but it's not showy. Of course, he gets a bit 'cockerney' too but then, this is set in Victorian London. You expect a few Dickensian wideboys, guv'nor.

In fact, the London setting rocks - all street urchins and dirty sewers. It's still like that where I live, actually. The city is really used to serve the mystery that Holmes has to solve, a tale of political greed and eerie black magic, centred on the creepy Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and his attempts to overthrow the British government.

Most importantly though, Robert Downey Jnr (as Holmes) has created a character that could run and run. He's not the most obviously likable bloke but RDJ's eccentricity makes his self-obsession more palatable. He's just really funny, odd, different. Jude Law's Dr Watson might not be quite so characterful but it's a nice touch that he's been turned in to a gambler. Rachel McAdams **sigh** meanwhile plays eye candy Irene with serious attitude. No-one is just a flat cut-out.

There are occasional giveaways that this had multiple writers and (allegedly) re-shoots and cuts. Sometimes there's just too much going on. But as a reboot it works - Holmes' appeal hasn't diminished, only gotten more enjoyably quirky, especially up against the blandness of, say, Tom Hanks' Dr Robert Langdon. Holmes can also kick ass, as you'll see a in great bareknuckle boxing scene. Come on, this is from the guy that made Snatch. You gotta see a bit of 'claret'.

It's out 26th December.

An Avatar kinda day.

Guns aren't cool, people - we know that. But film props are. And who's this movie geek with a real Avatar machine gun?

I was at the 'junket' today, y'see, and there was a whole room dedicated some of the gizmos and artwork from the movie. It would've been rude of me not to have snuck in.

But waaaay more importantly, obviously, I met up with James Cameron for a half hour chat about his life for an ITV2 documentary that I'm presenting. He was on good form. The early days, Arnie, winning 11 Oscars, special FX - you name it, we chatted about it. I also met up with the stars of Avatar too - Sam Worthington (very Aussie, very grounded, very 'the next Russell Crowe'), Sigourney Weaver (like meeting royalty), Zoe Saldana (smart, sexy, thin) and Stephen Lang (the best thing in the movie - a military man with an attitude).

There was a real good buzz about the whole place (a posh hotel in London) and the stars seemed to genuinely believe in the project. I liked it too - but can't go into too much detail yet becayse of the usual embargo-ing.

The doc's going out several times on ITV2, from lunchtime on Sat 19th, so look out for it. It's a pity it's only about 25 mins long as there'll have to be a lot of juicy stuff cut out but hey, it's a start. Hope you enjoy.


So I had a 'phone chat with Bruno the other day, as the DVD's now out. And seriously, it was Bruno NOT Sacha Baron-Cohen. He never broke character once.

The interview has had a bit of play on Radio 1 but, frankly, most of it is too out there for daytime radio. So I've decided to transcribe a bit and put it up here instead. Suffice to say, to any lawyers reading, IT'S ALL A JOKE, HE'S NOT SERIOUS, HE'S BEING DELIBERATELY PROVOCATIVE etc etc etc. With Bruno, NOTHING is sacred - which I kinda like...

JK: Hello to my favourite Viennese schnitzel, it's Bruno!

B: Wassup James!

JK: So 2009's been a big year for you. How are you looking back on it?

B: It's been really amazing, James. Really ausgezeichnet. My movie Bruno was a huge success, despite it having more naked guys in it than any Austrian film since the home video of Arnold Schwarzeneggar's stag night. I don't know if you've seen that but it's on You Tube. I'm the little blonde boy in the corner wearing just a jockey's hat.

JK: Christmas is coming up, Bruno. What's it like in your house?

B: Y'know, ich have a traditional Austrian christmas. The whole family are gathered together, mit the young children in their dungeon. We exchange gifts und if ich am lucky I may get from my boyfriend a pet. From my parents maybe some money - some geld. And from my grandparents maybe some stolen Jewish art. And then we have a big meal about 2 o'clock in the afternoon and afterwards the others go for a long walk to burn it off. That's not a problem for me - ich tend to just to the bathroom and... eeeeeuuurgh.

JK: It sounds very festive. You're a fashionista Bruno, what's going to be hot next year?

B: For me fashion's all about going green next year. You've got to go grun. We can all make little sacrifices to help save the planet. It doesn't take much effort to wear new clothes twice before throwing them away.

JK: Back to your film. It was very revealing, Bruno. How do you feel about so many viewers seeing you at your most raw?

B: Well, they haven't seen me at my most raw. My most raw was in Ibiza last year at Simon Cowell's 'scheisser' party. It looked like someone had sledgehammered a watermelon back there. That's also online.

JK: What's been your favourite film of the year?

B: Jesus! Stop it! Stop flirting with me! You're so naughty, you English...

JK: It's the accent, what can I say? What's been you favourite film of the year, Bruno?

B: It's been a great year for gay movies. Bruno, of course, and Milk, und best of all that movie Fast & Furious. Have you seen that? How sexy is the Vin Diesel in that movie? Ich watched it with 500 guys in a theatre in Salzburg. The title Fast & Furious was the perfect metaphor for what was going on in the screening. As was the massive explosion at the end of the film.

Hmmm, I'll leave it there for the moment...

Brothers - THE REVIEW

Another 'War On Terror' issues movie, anyone? You want it starring Peter Parker, Donnie Darko and Queen Amidala? And based on an award-winning 2004 Danish film (who doesn't)?

Well, Brothers it is then.

Here's what you need to know:

1. The casting's pretty clever. Tobe and Jake have long been muddled in the public eye, thanks to nookie with Kirsten Dunst and both being up for the role of Spiderman. That kinda gossip may not have gone through the director's mind, but it certainly adds an extra sparkle to their chalk-and-cheese characters.

2. Tobey's really going for it. When he comes back home to his family after being tortured in Afghanistan, he's understandably tormented. There's a bit where he trashes the new kitchen that his brother has installed for him - man, it sends shivers down the spine. He just can't handle being domestic again.

3. There are lots of unanswered questions. It's all deliberate, of course - post traumatic stress disorder tends not to have easy solutions. But it makes for a frustrating watch. Brothers is a film that's better on raising the issues rather than dealing with them.

4. So ultimately, despite the good turn from TM (Jake and Natalie are on autopilot), Brothers is just a bit frustrating. Actually, a bit dull. Director Jim Sheridan (The Boxer, In The Name Of The Father) still has the passion, but his heart-on-sleeve directing still leaves me feeling preached at rather than entertained. It's no surprise that there's a U2 track over the end credits. Yawn.

Brothers is out 22nd January.

Paranormal Activity - THE REVIEW

Horror nuts may have heard about Paranormal Activity years ago (it was made in '06) but it's only now gone mainstream, thanks to the determination of writer/director Oren Peli and his producers. With Paramount's millions behind them, the American multiplexes can't get enough of these lo-fi scares, told via Blair Witch/Cloverfield-style 'found video tapes'. Here's what you need to now:

1. Everything about PA is minimal. It's set completely in one house (Peli's own pad, actually) and it's simply home footage of a couple (Micah & Katie) investigating a possible poltergeist. They record everything, including sticking their camera on a tripod in their bedroom at night, then watch back looking for weird stuff.

2. Weird stuff is DEFINITELY found but the pic keeps everything believable. The grainy camera footage helps, so does the down-to-earth acting (from two unknowns). Mainly though, it's the pace. At first, Katie and Micah only notice tiny things; a door closes a little bit at 3am, their car keys move from the worktop to the floor. They're freaked out... yet not massively. But the grip of whatever is in their house tightens and tensions become unbearable.

3. Crucial to this is the repetition of one shot - the static camera in their bedroom, recording night after night. The couple sleep, their door enticingly open. Night-time noises are heard. Was it just the pipes? And are those footsteps on the staircase? A shadow on the wall? You can never be sure. We see this same shot umpteen times over umpteen nights, each time something a little more odd happens. It's a shot I began to dread. A lot of the things it records are banal - Katie getting up at 2am and staring at her boyfriend for an hour and a half (thankfully, we see that on fast forward) but it's precisely that banality that frazzles your nerve endings. Minimalism has never been so unsettling.

4. The horror gets bigger but the pic remains a masterpiece of eliciting thrills from what you don't see rather than what you do. Events seem at a distance. Sounds are heard a long way off. You feel like a helpless voyeur as the initial bubbliness of the film descends into pure, ice-cold terror. Watching someone's personal recording makes you feel privileged to be so close to the action and yet you're not entirely sure what you see. If only you could get closer... and yet you don't want to be too close. As a viewer you never get comfortable.

5. In other words, it scared the living crap out of me. Seriously. It hooks you in and try as you might to not buy into it, the whole thing just feels so NORMAL. Such a style may have come from necessary budget restrictions rather than some great theory of film directing but whatever, it delivers. Small-time movie, big-time screams.

It's out 27th November.

Nowhere Boy - THE REVIEW

Interpreting icons for the big screen isn't always a great idea. I'm still recovering from the moment in Cadillac Records where 5 scruffy herberts with plentiful hair rock up to the studio and announce in jarring Mockney tones: "'Ullo... we're the bleedin' Rowling Stownes ain't we" (or something like that.) We're so used to seeing/hearing the real famous people that we feel like we know them already. Movie adaptations are only likely to disappoint.

Posh British artist Sam Taylor-Wood's now had a go at 50s-era John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, with the help of the fella who wrote Control (about Joy Division's Ian Curtis). Here's what you need to know:

1. Even though Sam Taylor-Wood is a 'modern artist' (**the sound of Daily Mail readers getting irate**) this is actually a very mainstream film. Straightforward, clear and classy. It's specifically focused on Lennon aged 15/16, chronicling his relationship with his prissy Auntie Mimi (Kristin Scott-Thomas), who raised him, and his troubled mum Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) who gave him up when he was 5. Basically, both women want to mother him. He just wants to have fun.

Oh... he also meets some bloke called... now what was it... Paul... Paul... Paul Something-Or-Other.

2. The acting is SUPERB. Aaron Johnson as is astounding as JL, full of energy, dreams and laughs. So many laughs. His teen life may have been hard but his gallows humour kept spirits high. Johnson really does create someone unique, someone like you've never seen before. If that's not credit to Lennon, then I dunno what it. Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott-Thomas are also perfect as chalk-and-cheese sisters. Only KS-T can make the eating of soup look so threatening in one lunch scene.

3. It avoids cheesiness. The first meeting with McCartney (oh yeah, that was his name) is sweet, rather than obviously monumental. Thomas Brodie Sangster as Macca is also nicely restrained. And the re-naming of their band from The Quarrymen to The Beatles is so subtle that the latter are never even mentioned.

4. So it's defo worth seeing. A real celebration of the vibrancy of youth, the power of new and exciting music and how both have helped teenagers throughout the years cope with difficult times. If it is a little TV-movie looking in parts, the acting takes it way beyond, well into awards territory.

Nowhere Boy is out 26th December.