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
Just folk: The Unthanks

music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea