Junk Mail (15). This first feature by Norwegian director Pal Sletaune takes the stereotype of a super-sterile Scandinavia and empties a slop bucket on it. At once clever and aimless, the film centres on - or, more accurately, runs circles around - Roy (Robert Skjaerstad), a jowly, sullen and exceedingly slobby Oslo postman for whom routine invasion of privacy constitutes the sole job perk. Mid-round one day, Roy wanders into the apartment of a hearing-impaired blonde and soon finds himself trapped in a crime caper populated by grotesques. Sletaune keeps the reasonably familiar set-up tightly wound and slightly off-balance. No detail is inconsequential - the film is as streamlined, incident-filled and hermetically plotted as a superior Seinfeld episode. That said, there's less to Junk Mail than meets the eye. For all its grime, it's ultimately content to become whimsy. But Sletaune's way with vivid detail shouldn't be taken too lightly - you never know what might happen when he gets around to scratching the surface.
Live Flesh (18). Pedro Almodovar's latest is based on a Ruth Rendell novel, but the director's own long-standing themes are very much in evidence: desire, jealousy, destiny, sexual pleasure and sexual inadequacy, along with a strong sense of recent local history. Less a crime thriller than a convoluted melodrama, Live Flesh explores a love triangle involving a married couple and the man who inadvertently shot and crippled the husband some years back. Subdued by Almodovar standards (the production design, for instance, is less hysterical than ever before), it's a thoughtful, tender and generous movie. Taken together with the director's fine previous film, The Flower of My Secret, it suggests that this "grown-up phase" could yield his best work yet.Reuse content