Carrie and the girls lose it in Arabia

Cert: 15

by Leo Bear

SORRY ladies, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s two years on from where the first film left off and Carrie and co are older (it shows) but not wiser.

Charlotte is tearing her hair out with two under-fives, Samantha is wrestling the menopause, Miranda is having a career crisis and Carrie is at her wits’ end because Big puts his feet on the sofa and watches TV in bed. It seems satin sheets, Birkin bags, the man of her dreams and an apartment filled with designer furniture aren’t enough for our favourite girl-about-town. Whine much?

The action and laughs pick up when the fashion-forward foursome, clad in harem pants, gold nail polish and headdresses, arrive in Abu Dhabi on a freebie holiday blagged by Ms Jones. Samantha goes on the rampage exposing flesh, heavy-petting and waving condoms at the locals, which hasn’t gone down too well in the UAE – the jury is still out as to whether the film will be aired there... Meanwhile Carrie comes face to face with her “tall glass of water” ex Aiden while shopping in the souk. Amazing what you can find.

With opulence that borders on vulgar, a plot devoid of the highs and lows of the first film, and more than a few culturally-insensitive observations, one can only assume the Middle-Eastern sun has gone to director Michael Patrick King’s head.

You can take the girls out of the city, and sadly it seems, the city can be taken out of the girls too.

Cert: 12

by Rhys Griffiths

HOLLYWOOD movies often provide exception to the “don’t judge a book by its cover” rule. The Losers adds to the ever-growing list of comic books adapted for the big screen, promising “an explosive action tale of betrayal and revenge”. And since it delivers upon these promises in such honest fashion, it’s hard to be too critical of a work that, while offering no surprises, just wants to have fun.

Revolving around a simple good guy/bad guy division, the film follows a team of five members of an elite special forces unit (good guys) who find themselves set-up in the Bolivian jungle by the Bond-like villain Max (bad guy). Joined by Zoë Saldana in the guise of femme fatale with an agenda of her own, the team decide to track Max down for a dose of good old-fashioned revenge, while saving the world at the same time.

If this sounds tired and predictable, as is likely for most cinema goers over the age of, say, 18, best stay clear: The Losers has no hidden depths. Its real weakness is its confusing and bodged plotline, in place only to serve as a barely adequate glue to hold together the action. Still, with half-term approaching there’s sure to be an audience for this besides those who fancy one-hundred minutes of unpretentious fun. Rightly or wrongly, there will always be a place for films as easily accessible as this, and with a film like The Losers you know what you’re getting. So no complaints.

Menier Chocolate Factory

by Zoe Strimpel

IT’S not every day that Broadway actors tote their multiple Tony-award winning butts across the Atlantic perform to audiences in a tiny Southwark theatre. But such a day has arrived in the form of the world premiere of Paradise Found, a production by New York legends Harold Prince (21 Tony Awards) and Susan Stroman and their cast of glittering Americans.

Of course, “world premiere” sounds very impressive, but what it really means is an experiment to see how something goes down so that it can be refined as necessary for the West End and Broadway. So Paradise Found is a pleasure to watch in many ways, but what it lacks – a clear point, and direction – probably can’t be fixed by a few Southwark runs.

Set in the height of the Austro Hungarian Empire, the musical – based on Joseph Roth’s novel The Tale of the 1002nd Night – is loosely about desire and love in Vienna. It opens with the pasty-faced, elderly white Broadway veteran John McMartin as a reclining Shah of Persia, distressed at having lost his libido and therefore the ability to pleasure any of his hundreds of wives (it’s a hilarious scene). A trip to Vienna is proposed by his book-reading, matchmaking chief eunuch, played with great pathos by the famous Mandy Patinkin. Off they go and woops – the Shah’s lust is rekindled by none other than the Empress, a diplomatically impossible desire. So the eunuch and his new friend the Baron perform a bed-trick, whereby the Baron’s mistress Mizzi – also a prostitute (played with irresistible bounciness by the rosy-cheeked, perfectly-sculpted Kate Baldwin) – is presented as the Empress and her brothel done up as a palace. The Shah falls for it (odd) and, as the Baron listens to their lovemaking, realises he is in love with Mizzi. Unhappiness follows.

The first act is worth going for alone – the hilarity of the scenes with the Shah, the boisterous singing and dancing and above all, the brilliant costumes, are a joy. But the second act feels repetitive – the word “love” is bandied around without apparent connection to anything, everybody seems dissolute and nobody sympathetic. Even a troupe of Broadway royalty can’t change a script that ultimately dulls its characters and muddles meaning.