March of the Penguins (U)<br/>Calvaire (18)<br/>After Midnight (15)<br/>Scorched (12A)<br/>Crying Fist (15)

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The Independent Culture

March of the Penguins (U)

After all the hype, this epic wildlife documentary is the biggest disappointment of the week: though the footage of emperor penguins struggling against the Antarctic weather is extraordinary, its impact is diluted by inordinate length and the tackily anthropomorphic commentary.

Calvaire (18)

A bizarre Belgian horror, mixing up elements of Deliverance-style inbred rural violence and, somewhere in there, religious allegory. On his way to a gig, a fifth-rate chanteur is stranded and soon finds himself the focus of some disturbing fantasies. Deep gruesomeness ensues, but so does some very strange, very bleak comedy; and, having spent part of my childhood in Belgium, I'm inclined to think it's not so far from the truth.

After Midnight (15)

This Italian romantic tragicomedy concerns two men, a car thief and a film-obsessed nightwatchman, who are rivals for the love of a girl in a fast-food joint. A dreary voiced-over commentary offers platitudes on the mysteries of love and story-telling. It manages to be whimsical and pompous, naive and knowing - quite a feat, really.

Scorched (12A)

Why, oh, why can't lovely, perfect Alicia Silverstone find a vehicle worthy of her? On paper, this multiple-heist comedy must have looked OK; in practice, it isn't one 10th as sharp or original as it needs to be, even without the handicap of John Cleese at his most obtusely humourless. I would support legislation to stop Alicia doing this sort of thing.

Crying Fist (15)

Two men seek redemption through boxing: one, a faded champion with a broken marriage, the other a delinquent who never made peace with his dead father. Ryoo Seung-wan's film gets off to a cracking start and has some great ideas (including one of the most startling deaths I've seen), but takes too long to reach a dispiritingly mushy denouement.