A posting with special reviews of several recent documentaries coming soon - look out for Global Metal, Heckler, Zeitgeist Addendum, and Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired. In the meantime here we settle for the decidedly more prosaic.
Eden Lake (**)
the unnervingly realistic gang of hoodies along with their all-too-convincing family members give Eden Lake some notable potential, but unfortunately there's little else to commend, take away the few odd gruesome moments and it's more Famous Five than Deliverance - silly, derivative, implausible 'thrills'; TV-quality cinematography; plus a cheesy incongruent soundtrack all combining to ruin what could (and should) have been significantly more special; in addition, and as happened with My Little Eye, director Watkins tries so hard to be topical and so down with what the kids are into that, in the process, he forgets to make a meaningful film
Saw V (*****)
5 stars of course, what do you expect?! we reach the point where only genuine connoisseurs are going to appreciate these films as so much knowledge is presumed of the audience - Tobin Bell is imperious in his role as John ('Jigsaw') and this is yet another classic, expertly teased though it leaves us - do we really have to wait 12 months for VI?
intensely powerful and utterly compelling throughout - makes all the fake goodfellas posturing of your typical glamorised Hollywood gangster film look like the cartoons they are (and I include The Godfather et al); the tone of this unsettling tragedy is captured brilliantly by the non-formulaic documentary style and the feast of language that never once is tempted by cheap one-liners or unnecessary exposition
Tropic Thunder (*)
Tropic Thunder contains about 10 minutes of decent comic sketches padded within an overblown exercise in male bonding by Stiller and his Hollywood buddies who are clearly having a great time at the moviegoer's expense - new low points in the careers of Cruise, Coogan, Downey Jr., and, needless to say, Jack Black
the setting, pacing and unfolding paranoia of the first hour is of the highest quality, and although the final act doesn't quite deliver on the huge promise of that, this is still a most enjoyable thriller