Ill Manors, Ben Drew, 116 mins (18)
A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Crispian Mills, 100 mins (15)

Hey, mate! What can you do except swear a lot and wear unflattering trackies?

Two films came out last week which were written and directed by British pop stars. Both are set in east London, both have rap interludes, and both use the phrase, "Are you sitting comfortably?" They don't have much else in common, though, except that the film-makers' aspirations outstrip their abilities.

Ill Manors was made by Ben Drew, aka Plan B, a hard-hitting rapper, so you won't be flabbergasted to learn that it isn't a sun-dappled romantic comedy set in the Cotswolds, but a grim, urban, sub-Tarantino crime drama about drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes, and the people unfortunate enough to cross their paths. It has been praised in some quarters for depicting life as it is really is among the crack addicts of Britain's sink estates. And, fair enough, the grubby existences it portrays do seem horribly authentic. But I'm not sure that that makes this sprawling ordeal worth sitting through. London's least huggable hoodies have shown up in a vast number of depressing films already in the past few years, most of them terrible, so the idea that youths in gangs swear a lot, wave guns at each other, and wear unflattering tracksuits isn't the front-page news it used to be.

Still, Ill Manors aims higher than most of its predecessors. As well as slotting in some hip-hop videos, the film flits between several overlapping stories, often jumping back in time to show us a scene again from a different perspective. You can't accuse Drew of lacking ambition. But the more gimmicks he uses, the more he seems to be in dire need of some guidance and discipline. The fractured chronology would have been more commendable if he'd mastered basic pacing, plotting, lighting and editing first.

The week's other Brit-flick, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, is a surreal comedy written and directed by Crispian Mills, the frontman of the band Kula Shaker. It stars Simon Pegg, only just recognisable beneath long hair and a straggly beard, as an author who's been so unsettled by his research into Victorian serial killers that he's now afraid to leave his squalid flat. But when his agent sets up a meeting with a Hollywood executive, Pegg has no choice but to venture outside and go to the launderette. At last, he'll have to face his phobias ... and maybe even find that they're justified.

The obvious question that this summary raises is, can one paranoid man's jog down the street with a bag of washing sustain an entire film? And the answer is a resounding no. Pegg tries gamely to keep up the energy levels by shouting, squealing and bounding around in his Y-fronts, while Mills pads out his non-story with stop-motion animation, dream sequences, freeze frames and narration. But just as Ben Drew attempted to run before he could walk, Mills seems to have put more effort into his animated hedgehogs than into writing jokes that are funny or working out where to put the camera.

The mind-numbingly inconsequential plot might have worked in a short film or an episode of Pegg's sitcom, Spaced, but as a feature film A Fantastic Fear of Everything is a wretched waste of time. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Drew and Mills should stick to their day jobs. But before they sit in a director's chair again, they might want to go to night school.

Critic's Choice

Hungarian maestro Bela Tarr bows out of film-making (allegedly) with the last word in Slow Cinema, The Turin Horse, a visionary dirge of a drama about the nag that sent Nietzsche round the bend. And cinema's first word on reality television comes in Death Watch, Bertrand Tavernier's alarmingly prescient futuristic drama from 1979, with Harvey Keitel as a man with cameras in his eyes.

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvMartin Freeman’s casting is a stroke of genius

Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival

film
Arts & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

    The man who could have been champion of the world

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
    Didn’t she do well?

    Didn’t she do well?

    Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
    Before they were famous

    Before they were famous

    Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

    Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players