Film: Also Showing

Swing Nick Mead (15) Forces of Nature Bronwen Hughes (12) Black Cat White Cat Emir Kusturica (15) I still Know What You Did Last Summer Danny Cannon (18)

IF FILM and television are to be believed, Liverpool breeds only two kinds of male character - the criminal and the underdog. For the hero of his musical comedy, Swing, director Nick Mead has decided to roll the two into one. Martin (Hugo Weaver) emerges from a term in prison after robbing the building society where his girlfriend Joan worked. Make that ex-girlfriend: she's now married to the "busy" who put Martin away. Returning to his Liverpool council home he finds the same copper back on his case, likewise his parole officer, and as if that weren't enough he has Brookside bad lad Paul Usher for a brother.

But it's all OK, because Martin has - you'll never guess - a dream. While banged up he learnt to play the saxophone and now he's going to start his own swing band. Before you can say "Isn't this just a cheapo rip-off of The Full Monty and The Commitments?" he's got a whole orchestra together, fronted by Joan and anchored to the heavyweight presence of an Orange Brigade brass section led by Alexei Sayle. The whole thing is served up with a helping of sweet'n'sour Liverpudlian feistiness that some may find attractive. Personally, I could barely hear for the noise of my teeth grinding. Forget the Liverpool-panto cast list (even Nerys Hughes has been pressed into service), the pathetic cartoon plot, the grating inaccuracy of Hugo Weaver's Scouse accent and the script's lame attempts at wit - these are all mortifying enough. It's the hopefulness I can't bear.

There are one or two bright spots. Lisa Stansfield's screen debut is impressively confident, and the music itself packs a heady, exuberant charge. In this regard it's perhaps best not to ask how Martin's orchestra becomes so swiftly proficient in the big band sound, or how a black American jazzman (Clarence Clemens) came to be his cellmate in a British nick. Swing can be faulted on so many other counts it would be pointless to query the few bits of the film that actually work.

More romantic comedy in Forces of Nature, and even less to rejoice over than in Swing. Ben (Ben Affleck), about to leave New York for his wedding in Savannah, is offered the heartwarming advice by his grandpa that "Marriage is a prison", a subject which the rest of the movie dozily puts up for discussion. After a stray seagull grounds his flight out of NY, he hooks up with kooky-chick Sarah (Sandra Bullock) as they catch a midnight train (and bus, and automobile) to Georgia. So the question is posed: will Ben succumb to the intriguing, loose-limbed temptress or remain faithful to his fiancee?

To which your own question might be: who cares? As a cross-country caper this is so limp you can barely work up the energy to be insulted. It's modelled on Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and while Bullock and Affleck may have the edge looks-wise on Steve Martin and John Candy they have none of their chemistry - or their wit. Affleck gets by on unexceptional jock sturdiness, but Bullock is really struggling. Her rent-a-goofball act has been worn down in the five years since Speed. Bronwen Hughes, the director, tries to jolly things up with fancy slo-mo hailstorms and a hurricane that's pure Southern Gothic. She needn't have bothered.

Yugoslavian director Emir Kusturica, having forsworn film-making after the unfavourable reaction to his near-the-knuckle allegory, Under- ground, is back with Black Cat White Cat, a rumbustious folk comedy set along the banks of the Danube. It concerns a get-rich-quick scheme hatched by Romany dim-bulb Matko (Bajram Severdzan), who enlists the aid of a coke- snorting gangster named Dadan (Srdan Todorovic, in the film's most enjoyably debauched role) as partner. But Dadan double-crosses Matko, secretly creams off the profit and demands compensation in the form of a marital alliance with his sister. Set to the jaunty blare of a gypsy brass band, the film aims for a rollicking ludic tone as Matko shuttles frantically between wedding duties and minding a pair of corpses laid out in the attic. It's not nearly as much fun as it sounds. Kusturica prizes scattergun farce over subtlety, and the romantic slapstick of the film's latter stages bears an alarming kinship with Benny Hill. I'm all for a film-maker trying to divert the national consciousness from its present horrors, but it's hard to imagine Western audiences rolling in the aisles at this crude stuff.

Loudest groan of the week is reserved for I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, a shoddy re-run of the Scream-style teen-slasher I Know What You Did Last Summer. It's been a year since our heroine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) was traumatised by the murder of her friends by a hook-handed maniac in a fisherman's slicker. Now, desperate to forget, she goes on holiday to the Bahamas with three friends - and, of course, no sooner have they checked into their hotel than old Captain Bird's Eye shows up again looking for fresh blood. Brit director Danny Cannon works on the same principle as the schoolkid who sneaks up and bursts an empty crisp-packet behind you - boo! After half-a-dozen times the trick rather loses its effectiveness, though this doesn't seem to exercise Cannon. As long as he has enough blood to spurt around, considerations of plot and plausibility can go hang. Another sequel is planned, amazingly.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam