Friday 30 September 2016

Movie reviews - You're Ugly too, The Legend of Barney Thomson, Eden, The Best of Enemies

Paul Whitington

Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30

Coming of age: Lauren Kinsella and Aidan Gillen star in Mark Noonan's 'You're Ugly Too'
Coming of age: Lauren Kinsella and Aidan Gillen star in Mark Noonan's 'You're Ugly Too'

Paul Whitington reviews this week's other big releases - You're Ugly Too, The Legend of Barney Thompson, Eden, and The Best of Enemies.

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A promising feature début from Irish writer/director Mark Noonan, You're Ugly Too (2*, 15A, 96mins) stars the ubiquitous Aidan Gillen as an ex-con with a lot on his plate. Will has just been granted compassionate release from prison to look after his recently deceased sister's teenage daughter Stacey (Lauren Kinsella).

He's her only family but they barely know each other, and his shortcomings as a potential guardian soon become apparent. Will is feckless and moody, and if he doesn't get a job double-quick she'll be sent into foster care.

That looks inevitable, but against the odds the pair begin to develop a grudging fondness for one another, and make a defiant stand in a run-down rural caravan park.

Aidan Gillen will over-act at the drop of a hat, but here is comparatively restrained and all the better for it.

Though Mark Noonan's story is ultimately too slight for a feature film, he directs with admirable clarity, and You're Ugly Too has some lovely moments, most of them involving the spiky interaction of Gillen and the excellent Lauren Kinsella.

A first-time director with a slightly higher profile, actor Robert Carlyle is one of Scotland's favourite sons, and in (2*, 15A, 131mins) returns to his native Glasgow to tell a comically ghoulish story.

Barney Thomson (Mr. Carlyle) is a soul-sucking misery-guts who works at an east Glasgow barbershop and is under the thumb of his terrifying mother (Emma Thompson).

Single and bitter, Barney finds consolation only in his work, but even that is threatened when the boss's oily son tries to get rid of him. While arguing, they fall, and Barney accidentally kills him.

With the help of his surprisingly resourceful mother, he disposes of the body, but a bull-like Cockney policeman called Holdall (Ray Winstone - who else?) becomes suspicious, and reckons Barney might just be the serial killer who's been posting bits of his victims to the cops.

The film's tone is tongue-in-cheek guignol, and reminds one of Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino, as well as of British thrillers like Shallow Grave.

But for me it's all too giddy and cartoonish to engage with: the characters played by Ms. Thompson and Mr. Winstone are grotesques, and though Robert Carlyle's direction shows genuine flair in visual terms, his film in the end is neither comic nor thrilling.

No soul and all surface, Mia Hansen-Love's film Eden (2*, 15A, 131mins) is set in the underground club scene in 1990s Paris, and stars a glazed-looking Felix de Givry as Paul, a young DJ who plans to become a global superstar.

In love with 80s garage music, Paul starts out spinning discs for free in abandoned warehouses, but within a decade he and a partner have opened their own club.

The bleary glamour of cocaine binges and heaving clubs become addictive, and before he knows it years have drifted by and Paul's chickens come home to roost.

A film about a man who wastes 15 years idling in dance clubs left me feeling like I'd been trapped in one for a similar length of time. And though the skill with which Ms. Hansen-Love's camera soars around the crowded dance floors is impressive, her film is as thin and shiny as the electronic records Paul so expertly spins, and just as annoying.

And finally a word about Best of Enemies (4*, No cert, IFI, 88 mins), Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville's hugely entertaining documentary that brings to life the deadly feud between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal.

Fearsome intellectuals on either side of the ideological debate, they were brought together by American channel ABC to debate the Republican and Democratic Conventions in 1968.

Instead they attacked each other, at first slyly, then openly, and their spectacular slanging matches are wonderfully captured by this lively, evocative film.

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