Video Watch

The Real Blonde (15), available to rent from Monday

TOM DICILLO'S latest comedy drama sees the director return to the ensemble format with which he successfully sent up the indy film-making business in Living in Oblivion.

Joe (Matthew Modine) is a would-be actor who is having to forsake his thespian ambitions for the sake of some hard cash and his relationship with Mary (Catherine Keener), a make-up artist. Joe's English friend Bob (Maxwell Caulfield), a callow womaniser, lands a long-term soap role, but Bob would give it all up if he could only find a woman who meets the criterion of the film's title.

DiCillo's targets are Nineties sexual mores and fickle showbiz life, neither of which are original nor tackled with much enthusiasm. The battle of the sexes descends into half-hearted skirmishes which DiCillo either resolves too neatly - Mary ends up pummelling her lecherous self-defence teacher (Dennis Leary) - or which leave a nasty taste in the mouth - Bob is left engaged to the bottle blonde whom we guess he has beaten up on at least one occasion. Save for Joe's indignation at being told that he's not the beefcake he thought he was, and enjoyable cameos from Christopher Lloyd and Kathleen Turner, the satire remains tentative as well.

Gummo (18)

available to rent from Monday

IT'S A MOOT point whether Harmony Korine's directing debut is an exploitative white-trash freak show, as Korine - who wrote the screenplay for the controversial film Kids - seems to have no idea either. The self-consciously under-developed plot loosely follows the cat-killing adventures of the eponymous adolescent and his goofy sidekick.

Elsewhere in the town of Xenia, a trio of girls (Chloe Sevigny amongst them) are witnessed lavishing affection upon and then searching for their pet cat.

It's when Korine slips away from the narrative and the professional cast that he seems in his element, however. Large parts of the film are given over to passages of apparent documentary: a couple of weightlifting skinheads stage an impromptu punch-up for the camera; a kitchen-full of bare-chested rednecks conclude a boozy session by wrecking the furniture.

Much of this footage, shot on video as well as film, is a simple freak show, but it's no less hilarious for that. As to whether or not this voyeuristic peak serves any higher purpose, Korine is as mute as his cast of grotesques. There is the mildest of suggestions that Xenia's entropy may have been accelerated by a recent hurricane, but the tempest succeeds rather as a metaphor for the casual violence which pervades the film.

Gummo thrives on this random energy but is just about able to provide some moments of grace: look out for the boy wearing rabbit ears and the sublime bathtime dining scene towards the end.

Gattaca (15)

available to rent from Monday

AT LAST - some sci-fi with adult intentions. The parents of Vincent (Ethan Hawke) have made the mistake of leaving their son's future to chance when, sometime "in the not too distant future", to be born without genetically cooking the books is to be born "invalid". Determined to join the elite ranks of Gattaca, an astronaut training facility, Vincent borrows the identity of Jerome (Jude Law), a "valid" who has fallen on hard times. The murder of a course director brings Vincent under suspicion, however, as Alan Arkin attempts to track down the invalid who he believes is responsible for the crime.

Andrew Niccol's cautionary drama has the initial advantage of looking superb. Shot in melancholic sepia tones and with an expressionistic economy, Niccol's vision of the future demonstrates an elegance which his screenplay struggles to match. Vincent, particularly as played by the anodyne Hawke, is not so much a character as a walking refutation of genetic engineering.

It is left to a wheelchair-bound and mildly bilious Law - think of a 21st-century First World War casualty - to provide any colour in the film.

Even if there is less to this than meets the eye, Niccol's treatment of Hawke's involvement with the Aryan Uma Thurman and his battle to prove his innocence is refreshingly simple.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
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

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

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

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories
comedy

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
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?
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.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?