What's good at the movies this weekend?

04:39, Aug 15 2014

At the movies this weekend, Sly Stallone's Expendables return, Roman Polanski directs his wife, Helen Mirren cooks up a storm and Postman Pat's big screen debut really delivers.

THE EXPENDABLES 3 (M, 126mins ★★★1/2) 
Expendables 2 was a small let-down. I thought it a bit smug and humourless, compared with the first instalment, but with Expendables 3, the franchise is right back on track. The chemistry between Sylvester Stallone and regular co-star Jason Statham is genuine and affectionate, and while Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke have left the building, they are more than ably replaced by Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Mel Gibson. Gibson especially is terrific; trim, energetic and just as bat-poo crazy as we could have hoped. They're not art, these films, but they get the job done with a wink and a nod at the golden age of cheesy dialogue and hammy acting. More please. GT

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (PG, 122mins ★★★1/2) 
No matter how contrived you might think the story, this is an effective, likeable and glossily attractive shaggy dog tale, overrun with decent performances. Helen Mirren and Om Puri are the feuding restaurateurs, while Marguerite-the-sous-chef is played by Charlotte Le Bon; the latest from that seemingly inexhaustible production-line of heartstoppingly beautiful French actresses who are forever being cast in roles that involve a lot of riding around on antique bicycles in floral cotton frocks. Le Bon looks like Sophie Marceau, but with slightly ramshackle teeth. I was smitten. The Hundred-Foot Journey  would be a very easy film to be cynical about. But there is craft here and the film wants so much to be liked, that it would be churlish to not surrender, just a little. GT

VENUS IN FUR (R16, 106 mins, ****)
This well-acted, largely riveting two-hander may be considered rather stagey, set as it is in an empty theatre where a director is running auditions for his play. The play-within-a-play, based- on-a-play, has ''meta'' written all over it. Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and latterly The Grand Budapest Hotel) can't help but look like a young Polanski in the role of the beleaguered theatre director. As he laments the paucity of an appropriate female actress to play the lead of Wanda, a spirited woman (named Vanda) arrives at the theatre and pushes her way into an audition. She is played by Polanski's off-screen wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner. SW

POSTMAN PAT:  THE MOVIE (G, 87mins, ★★★★) 

Pencaster and Greendale's mailman has come a long way since he made his stop-motion debut on the BBC more than 30 years ago. And this computer-generated post-modern lament about the modern postal service certainly would have strained relations between Postman Pat and the Royal Mail Service had they not already stopped using him as their frontman in 2000. Combining elements of Robocop and One Chance, Mike Disa (Hoodwinked Too) and the writing trio (which includes Not the Nine O'Clock News's Kim Fuller - brother of American Idol impresario Simon) manage to conjure up plenty of contemporary corporate satire, along with visual gags and knockabout fun for Pat's traditional pre-school audience. JC