Greenberg, Noah Baumbach, 107 mins (15)
Black Death, Christopher Smith, 92 mins (15)
Brooklyn's Finest, Antoine Fuqua, 132 mins (18)

Another emotionally stunted male saved by a younger woman

Has Noah Baumbach gone soft? His last two comedies, The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding, had some phenomenally poisonous characters, and dialogue so lacerating it would be confiscated at customs. In contrast, the hero of Greenberg is merely brusque, self-involved and anti- social, which makes him one of Baumbach's more personable creations.

He's Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), the leader of a nearly-was indie band in the early 1990s who can't quite accept that he's now working as a carpenter in New York. Having just emerged from an institution, he flies to Los Angeles to house-sit for his holidaying brother. He meets up with a former bandmate (Rhys Ifans) who fixes computers for a living, and gets in touch with an old flame (Jennifer Jason Leigh, also the film's co-plotter, and Mrs Noah Baumbach). But the person he sees the most is his brother's dogged personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig), a twentysomething whose smiley generosity masks the same self doubt as Roger's prickly misanthropy.

Gerwig is an alumna of the naturalistic, low budget "mumblecore" scene, and Baumbach seems to have taken his cues from her: Greenberg bobs around the place with an understated, plotless honesty which is refreshingly different from the contrivances of the standard Hollywood comedy. At its best, it's a sublimely unsparing dissection of a mid-life crisis, with Gerwig's gawky lounge singer updating the Diane Keaton of Annie Hall, and Stiller as an older incarnation of Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. But at its worst, Greenberg has the fatal flaw of any mumblecore film: a belief that the faltering chat of underemployed middle-class neurotics is entertainment in itself.

Baumbach, of all people, could have skewered these characters' slacker narcissism, but he's ultimately too fond of them, and in its way, Greenberg is just another romantic comedy about an emotionally stunted male being redeemed by an angelic younger woman. Surprisingly, Rhys Ifans is more sympathetic than either of them. A gentle soul who is making his peace with a life that hasn't met his expectations, his character gets Greenberg's most touching moments. But maybe I'm going soft, too.

The same can't be said of Christopher Smith, a British horror director (Creep, Severance, Triangle) who doesn't stint on the grisly dismemberings in his latest film, Black Death. Set in 1348, it stars Eddie Redmayne as a novice monk who volunteers to guide Sean Bean's knight and his gang of yellow-toothed thugs through the forests where he grew up. They're on a mission from God (or one of His bishops, anyway) to investigate a village that has been left mysteriously untouched by the plague.

Black Death may be reminiscent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but it should find favour with fans of The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, and any number of Hammer horror films. You've got to respect the blood and thunder of Dario Poloni's screenplay, as well as Smith's commitment to squelching, crunching nastiness. No instrument of torture is left unused.

Brooklyn's Finest is a doom-laden cop drama from the director of Training Day, but while it has that film's druggy, sweary toughness, it doesn't have the electrifying plot that went with it. Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, and Don Cheadle star in three separate storylines which don't interweave so much as brush against each other in passing. One actor plays a whiskey-soaked NYPD veteran with a week to go before retirement, one is a hotshot detective who embezzles drug money, and the third is an undercover agent who wants his old life back. The characters are despondent at the start of the film, they're despondent all the way through, and the only question is exactly how despondent they're going to be at the end.

Also Showing: 13/06/2010

Letters to Juliet (104 mins, PG)

Amanda Seyfried's fledgling journalist drives around rural Italy with Vanessa Redgrave – who appears to be a few trees short of an olive grove – and her grandson (Christopher Egan – awful), hoping to reunite Redgrave with her long lost beau. A vacuous, nauseating rom-com that's more likely to inspire hate mail than love letters.

Shed Your Tears and Walk Away (88 mins, 15)

In Jez Lewis's disturbing, heartfelt documentary, he revisits his home town in West Yorkshire, the funky tourist mecca of Hebden Bridge, to ask why so many of his childhood friends are drinking and overdosing themselves to death. There are no easy answers.

H2Oil (76 mins, 12A)

H2Oil is the third documentary to be released about Alberta's tar sands in the past three months. And although the environmental damage wrought by the Canadian oil industry makes There Will Be Blood look like Bambi, I really do hope there isn't a fourth documentary still to come.

Next Week:

Andrew Johnson sees if Hollywood can raise a smile with the action spoofs MacGruber and Killers. Nicholas Barber is on holiday

Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

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

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
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.

    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review