This hornet has a comic sting

Cert: 12A

SETH Rogen is both writer and star of the latest film to play fast and loose with the superhero genre. He plays Britt Reid, a rich layabout who becomes a masked crime fighter principally because it amuses him – and it amuses us too. Rogen manages to weave the mischievous humour of his other comedies like Superbad into a film that shares the punch of the Iron Man films and the disrespect for superhero conventions of Kick Ass. The story’s a crock, but that didn’t bother me for a moment.

After his nasty newspaper magnate dad (Tom Wilkinson) kicks the bucket, party-loving Britt finds himself sole proprietor of a media empire in which he has no interest. He also discovers his dad’s mechanic, a Chinese chap called Kato (scene-stealing Jay Chou), happens to be a genius inventor of weapons and gizmos, and a champion martial artist, and together they take on the Los Angeles criminal underworld.

Thanks to Rogen’s goofy humour and the kinetic direction of Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine) it’s all a lot more fun than it has any right to be.
Timothy Barber

Cert: 15

DO NOT be fooled by the posters. Blue Valentine is not a sweet, if edgy, love story. Sure, it’s about love, but it’s about the jagged death of love. Its stars, the talented, tasty man-of-the-moment Ryan Gosling and the formidable ex-Dawson’s Creeker Michelle Williams, form a perfect dark centre for a claustrophobic, unsettling picture.

It opens with a typical morning at the home of Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams). Dean’s asleep in his chair with a can of beer, Cindy is alone in bed. Their little daughter Frankie (played with otherworldly poise by the six-year-old Faith Wladyka), who adores Dean and vice versa, is playing outside.

Over the next 24 hours, Dean and Cindy’s marriage – already tense (why is Cindy alone in bed? Why does Dean berate her for preparing Frankie’s oatmeal with water?) – reaches breaking point. A twist revealed half way through adds complexity and a further sense of tragedy to their marriage.

The narrative is laced with flashbacks of their lives before they met and their courtship – including a scene at dinner when Cindy, a student, cowers before a family row and vows never to hate the person she once loved.

Meanwhile, Dean – before his permanent cigarette, can of beer and shaded glasses – oozed boyish sweetness.

Well worth seeing for the quality of its performances and a strong feeling – albeit a troubled one – that will stay with you long afterwards.
Zoe Strimpel