A sex comedy, a period drama and a political satire provide mixed offerings for Kiwi cinemagoers this weekend.
SEX TAPE (R16; 94min)
** Reviewed by James Croot
After a strong, attention-grabbing opening, this rekindling-the-romance comedy all gets rather flaccid, resulting in a less than satisfying experience. Initially seeming like an edgier, crasser version of This is 40, it ends up as a cross between Date Night and Knocked Up as it becomes less about the stresses of modern living and more about couples behaving badly.
With Cameron Diaz wearing an outfit to rival her eye-popping debut in The Mask (and her displaying even more cheek than usual), this is a film that seems desperately to want to be this generation's There's Something About Mary. From genital mishaps to prolonged dog fights, its hard not to get the feeling that writers Jason Segel, Kate Angelo (Will and Grace) and Nicholas Stoller (Muppets Most Wanted) had the Farrelly Brothers comedy in the background while they wrote.
THE FRENCH MINISTER (M; 107min)
**** Reviewed by James Croot
Fans of Yes, Minister and The Thick of It will lap up this hilarious, razor-sharp French political satire set in France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the film is better known in France by the Foreign Ministry's location - Quai D'Orsay).
Inspired by the antics of former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, veteran director Bertrand Tavernier's (Life and Nothing But, Round Midnight) tale certainly makes the most of both Christophe Blain and Abel Lanzac's witty script and Thierry Lhermitte's (The Closet, TV's Doc Martin) free-wheeling centre performance. A human version of Warner Bros' Tasmanian Devil prone to Cantona-esque pronouncements ("Water that boils - never forgets"), you can't take your eyes off him - whether he's whining about highlighters with mushy tips or singing bawdy songs.
A PROMISE (M; 98min)
**1/2 Reviewed by James Croot
Based on Viennese writer Stefan Zweig's (whose writings inspired Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel) 1976 novella Journey into the Past (only found among his papers after his death), A Promise is a lavish-looking period drama filled with gorgeous costumes and an impressive leading trio of actors (Richard Madden, Alan Rickman and Rebecca Hall).
Unfortunately, French director Patrice Leconte's (Intimate Strangers, The Widow of Saint-Pierre) English-language debut is let down by overly portentous and arch dialogue. ("It's a fine portrait of you - but unfaithful," Zeitz says to Lotte) and an atmosphere that rivals Hall-in-a-corset in looking like it desperately needs some air.