Life in buddy hell

also showing; THE CABLE GUY Ben Stiller (12) KINGPIN Peter and Bobby Farrelly (12) THE CELLULOID CLOSET Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (15) FEAST OF JULY Christophe r Menaul (15) THE TIT AND THE MOON Bigas Luna (18)

Cinema despises television, its runtish half-brother. Television is so small. You don't have to get off the sofa to watch it. You can vacuum while it's on, or eat, or knit. How common. And so easy. You don't have to do anything. You just switch it on, and it drains the room of conversation, morality, brain cells. Videodrome, Natural Born Killers, To Die For - these movies are so indignant, they should be waving placards outside Radio Rentals, or chaining themselves to Rupert Murdoch's railings.

The dark new comedy The Cable Guy is another such movie, though it swaps indignation and hysteria for simple concern, which is an odd thing for any film starring Jim Carrey to do. Carrey hasn't swapped hysteria for anything. He isn't allowed as much slapstick as he's accustomed to, but he doesn't seem any less frenetic; his tongue flaps and fidgets like it's cleaning the cream off an invisible whisk, while his bulging facial muscles suggest that champagne corks are popping beneath his skin. You're exhausted by him. And that's before you get to the scene where he dresses as a knight and tries to chop up Matthew Broderick (if we're honest, something we've all wanted to do since Ferris Bueller's Day Off).

Broderick plays Steve, an unassuming Ordinary Joe who is learning to live alone after separating from his girlfriend. He buys cable for a bit of company. And he gets the cable guy (Carrey) into the bargain. Carrey is lonely and ingratiating; when he flashes his twinkling eyes at Broderick, he looks like a hopeless fisherman who's just landed a juicy trout. For a moment Broderick humours him, and they do some of the things that buddies do - eat out, throw a karaoke party, lie together on an enormous satellite dish. There's nothing sinister about it - at least not until Broderick rejects him, and discovers that hell hath no fury like a cable guy spurned.

And all this, we discover in an early flashback, is because Carrey's mother used to plop him in front of the television set whenever she went out. Too much TV saps your brain, the picture says. Any attempts at satire are undermined by this truism. That's not a problem unique to The Cable Guy. Near the end, a TV breakdown forces a couch potato to turn to a book instead. You'll find that most of cinema's satires on television boil down to a rather crass message like this, something along the lines of "why can't we all just turn off the TV and get to know ourselves and one another?", which is enough to make the sanest mind turn to Pets Win Prizes.

It barely matters that The Cable Guy fails in this respect, because it is crammed with other pleasures, not least Carrey, who lets us glimpse the human being behind the sociopath. The director Ben Stiller doesn't have a secure grasp on his film's tone, but he does surface in a brilliant running gag, as an ex-child star turned psychopath, whose life is made into a tacky TV movie. Don't watch TV, the writer Lou Holtz, Jr is saying: this is the sort of junk you get fed. I suppose the joke won't really kick in until The Cable Guy gets snapped up by Sky Movies.

If Jim Carrey has deserted the scatalogical depths of Dumb and Dumber, then Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the no-brains behind that film, are plunging deeper with their disgusting new comedy Kingpin. Woody Harrelson plays Roy Munson, a promising bowler whose taste of success in the 1970s is soured when his bitter rival, Big Ern McCracken (Bill Murray), gets him into a scrape which results in his bowling hand being torn off. Seventeen years later, Munson is an alcoholic nobody who thinks his life is over until he chances upon the bowling hotshot Ishmael (Randy Quaid), and whisks him away from a quiet Amish life and toward a tournament where he will, inevitably, face Big Ern.

The Farrellys' pursuit of the ultimate bad-taste gag actually subsumes everything else in the movie. But their quest is a fairly addictive process for any audience willing to leave their integrity in the cloakroom - when the directors contrive a situation in which a young man must have sex with his scabby landlady, or when they construct a joke around a bucket of semen, you end up half willing them to conjure something even more tasteless, and half dreading that they will. At the press screening, the audience were roughly divided between those who sat stiffly in disbelieving silence, and those who sniggered childishly. I'm not ashamed to admit that I belonged to the latter group.

Homosexuality in cinema has come a long way, and gone a long way back again, and dithered about in no man's land for long periods of time. The new documentary The Celluloid Closet charts the progressions and regressions, but it doesn't employ any sort of angle - not even a gay angle. That's not a compromise; the directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have simply set out to fashion a historical document to create a chronological history.

The mood shifts from fanciful to tentative, from celebratory to sinister, as the picture charts the corresponding changes in image and attitude, from the sexless "sissy" figure in films like Broadway Melody to the emergence of homosexuality as violent threat in Cruising. The documentary is meticulously assembled, and the talking heads are extraordinarily revealing. Arthur Laurents, who wrote Rope, assures us that "nobody sees the same movie" - obvious, yes, but a neat way of communicating how we read our own feelings into what's on screen. The Celluloid Closet is an important testimony to how cinema can alter preconceptions and life, which is one good reason to see it. You want two more? Sal Mineo's eyes and lips, which you can never savour enough.

Feast of July is a drudging drama based on HE Bates's novel about a woman (Embeth Davidtz) who gives birth, buries the baby on a hillside and tries to start up a new life in the home of Tom Bell and his three sons, who compete for her affections. But the past comes back to claim her happiness. Ben Chaplin is fine as the heady nitwit who turns clumsy avenger, but this is grim stuff. The paltry rewards make it more finger buffet than feast.

Unlike Bigas Luna's The Tit and the Moon, a refreshing fable about the fragility of love, and of men, and the joy of sex - polymorphously perverse sex, that is. Tete (Biel Duran) is a young boy who, aghast at being usurped by a baby brother, resolves to seek out the perfect breast. He finds it in Estrillita (Mathilda May), whose aging lover Maurice (Gerard Darmon) is plagued by sexual insecurities. What with the acres of bare breasts, and Maurice's musical flatulence, this might sound ideal for a double- bill with Kingpin. Not so. It's a charmer, celebrating life, nudity and stolen underwear, and wistfully sighing over spilt milk.

n All films on general release from Fri

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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 week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick