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Depp does the time but the film's a crime

Timothy Barber
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<strong>Film</strong><br />PUBLIC ENEMIES<br /><strong>Cert: 15</strong><br /><br />AFTER all the Terminators, Transformers, gory horror flicks and kids&rsquo; cartoons, it should be refreshing to sit down for a blockbuster that&rsquo;s actually aimed at adults. Michael Mann, director of films such as Ali and Heat, has crafted a handsome-looking crime epic about the famous Thirties bank robber John Dillinger, with plenty of gritty detail, period glamour and stick-ups with Homburg-hatted gangsters firing Tommy guns from the footboards of their speeding cars.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s not anything more than that though, and at over two hours, it should be. It should at least be exciting. But Mann seems to have expended so much effort immersing us in the feel of Depression-era America &ndash; you can practically smell the sweat in the desert jail where the film opens with a daring breakout &ndash; that any sense of emotional resonance or dramatic tension has been allowed to ooze away.<br /><br />Dillinger became famous for a 14-month crime spree across the Midwest, which saw his gang robbing scores of banks at gunpoint. He became a minor folk hero for running the government ragged and refusing to take the money of the punters who were in the banks as he robbed them. What a guy. Johnny Depp plays Dillinger as a debonair charmer with a low, monotone drawl, but gives us little real idea of why he was a robber, or why we should root for him in any way. The spurious idea that it&rsquo;s all for the love of his girl is never properly mapped out, and hardly helped by a miscast Marion Cotillard as his half-French lover.<br /><br />Not that we&rsquo;re tempted to root for the FBI cop hunting him down, played by Christian Bale with all the allure and personality of a hay bale. As with Mann&rsquo;s previous crime flick, Heat, the hunter and the hunted have a cosmic chat of the &ldquo;I&rsquo;m gonna get you&rdquo; &ldquo;not if I get you first&rdquo; variety, though it hardly matches de Niro and Pacino. Nothing here does. What should be a tense, engrossing drama is boring, careless and disappointingly free of passion.<br /><br /><strong>Art</strong><br />JEFF KOONS<br /><strong>Serpentine Gallery</strong><br /><br />AN inflatable swimming pool toy in the shape of a lobster appears to be doing a handstand, balanced on a wooden chair and a garden trashcan. It faces its mirror image on the wall opposite, painted life-size in photorealist detail, complete with a buxom nude glamour model and comic-strip background. The lobster &ndash; not the first to appear in avant-garde art, of course &ndash; seems to be examining its fantasy, dream version of itself, transported from the garden pool to the world of pop culture and sex. It&rsquo;s very funny.<br /><br />This juxtaposition sums up a lot about Jeff Koons, the pre-eminent American artist of the post-Warhol era and one whose global auction prices are matched only by Damien Hirst&rsquo;s. His zany penchant for taking the lurid, day-glo fantasies and sexed-up emblems of base consumerism and blowing them up into glorious, pristine icons of life, love and the human spirit, is perfectly realised in the inflatable toys spread through this exhibition. They are made of aluminium but look perfectly real, and you have to fight the temptation to touch them as they emerge from stacks of garden chairs, get wedged into step ladders, or hang from hooks with pots and pans suspended below. Behind them, complex collage paintings &ndash; redolent of pop artist James Rosenquist &ndash; feature Popeye, comics, spandex hotpants, cleavage. It&rsquo;s a garishly enjoyable show from an artist who extracts something glorious and poetic from the superficial paraphernalia of American life.