Novocaine (15)

The King is Dancing (15)

Dogtown and Z-Boys (15)

Chop Suey (NC)

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (U)

Steve Martin is Frank Sangster in Novocaine, a smugly prosperous dentist whose fortunes begin to buckle when he falls for a patient, Susan Ivey (Helena Bonham Carter), the clue being right there in the name – she's poison. Before long, drugs go missing from his office, his fiancée (Laura Dern) smells a rat, and Susan's thuggish brother (Scott Caan) wants to wring his neck. Frank thinks that lying is like tooth decay; problem is, he hasn't the expertise to cope with this new kind of rot, and now the police are after him for drug-trafficking and murder.

For a while, this throwback noir simmers nicely (narrative voiceover, a femme fatale, an unexpected corpse), even if you're longing for Steve Martin to goose the old routines like he did in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. The odd thing is, the director David Atkins's screenplay sounds halfway to self-parody already, but the film doesn't seem to know whether to keep a straight face or to wink knowingly. One minute there's a giddy bit of comic business involving a tape measure and a stray pair of knickers, the next Martin is on the run and fighting for his life as the Hitchcock "innocent man". And just when the plot needs to tighten its noose, it blows the suspense altogether in a sequence of jaw-numbing twists. Rinse and spit.

Richly caparisoned and lavishly shot, The King is Dancing investigates the relationship between Louis XIV (Benoît Magimel) and his steward of music Lully (Boris Terral), whose position in court seemed impregnable despite his being Italian, bisexual and prone to rock-star tantrums. They make an odd couple, for sure, the monarch a spoilt show pony, Lully almost neurotically devoted to his master's every whim – he ignores his wife's childbearing agonies to stay up all night serenading the king on his sickbed, and later falls to resenting his friend Molière (Tchéky Karyo) because his satires are more pleasing to the royal ear than Lully's musicals. The director Gérard Corbiau makes it all look handsome enough, though its movement through the 1660s and 1670s is awfully plodding, and Boris Terral's petulant performance cries out for nothing but a good smack.

On the face of it, a documentary about a crew of rebellious West Coast skateboarders may not be the sort of film you'd make an instant date for, yet Dogtown and Z-Boys is a really engrossing tribute to an athletic form of outlaw cool. Once a fad that seemed to have withered and died, skateboarding was revolutionised in the early 1970s by a group of teenagers in a run-down coastal resort of Santa Monica known as Dogtown, "where the debris meets the sea".

What impresses is the near-fortuitous nature of their emergence. Surfers by inclination, they found themselves with nothing to do once the tide receded mid-morning, so, armed with makeshift skateboards, they took instead to "surfing" playground asphalt and concrete, while a drought in South California turned empty swimming-pools into a perfect site to practise their wheeling, daredevil moves – at least until the cops came along.

Eventually, assembled as the Zephyr Skating Team, they made a public splash at the 1975 Skateboard Championship with their low-slung, innovative style, and some went on to superstardom. But it didn't always last, and one look at the busted septum of erstwhile golden boy Jay Adams is evidence enough of how some got trapped in California's cocaine canyon (he is currently doing time).

A happier story is that of Stacy Peralta, one of the original Dogtown skaters and now the director of this movie: together with the photojournalist Craig Stecyk, he has corralled contemporary footage, vintage stills and new interview material into a vivid patchwork of reminiscences. He couldn't have given his old gang a finer salute.

It makes the week's other documentary, Chop Suey, look pretty trivial in comparison. This is career scrapbook as home movie, languidly assembled by the photographer Bruce Weber, and dotted here and there with some marvellous clips, such as the studio duet between an elderly Robert Mitchum and the bluesman Doctor John, or the vignette of the English explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, with a nose "like a Giacometti sculpture". I wanted a bit more of these and a lot less of Weber's latest discovery – a beautiful but deeply uninteresting youth named Peter Johnson, whose only memorable contribution was to confess that he'd never heard of Ava Gardner. The photographer's signature images – homoerotic idylls, cheekbones, sculpted torsos – are easy on the eye, though they're better suited to the fleeting dissolves of a Calvin Klein ad than a feature-length examination.

The animated adventure Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron tells the story of the Wild West, straight from the horse's mouth, or rather, from the politically sensitive screenwriters at DreamWorks, so, essentially, it's another apology to Native Americans for the pillaging of their land. The rugged Western scenery looks fantastic, and some of the chase sequences pack a wildly vertiginous thrill. Indeed, I would have dozed along quite happily but for the revolting songs by Bryan Adams, whose throaty, pseudo-dramatic bleating had me curled in a full-body cringe.

Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tv review
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

The best TV shows and films coming to the service

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

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

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

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

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

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.

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003