Barely bobbing above the surface...

Head Above Water (15) Directed by: Jim Wilson. Starring: Harvey Keitel, Cameron Diaz.

If you're going to ask an audience to believe that Harvey Keitel could pass for a righteous, upstanding judge, then you may as well make him a judge who merrily conspires to slice up the corpse of a heart-attack victim while you're at it. Let's not do things by half now.

Keitel has a lot of fun with his role in Head Above Water, but though he's not an actor that you could accuse of excessive shyness, his frolics aren't especially engaging. The glee resides in his eyes; it isn't directed out at us. His character has married a young ex-hellraiser (Cameron Diaz) whose rehabilitation has been precarious enough for him to urge her "No sedatives!" as he departs from their remote island home on a fishing trip. But it's Keitel who turns out to be the oblivion addict. While he's away, Diaz's ex-boyfriend (Billy Zane) shows up, flirts a bit, then refuses to leave in the morning. Typical one-night stand behaviour. Only he's not being stubborn. He's being dead.

When Keitel returns, it takes only a few swigs from a nearby bottle to tip him into drunken maniac mode. You can see that he relishes the chance to play gaga. For an audience, it proves less satisfying. Despite what the screenwriter Theresa Marie might think, the consumption of a glass of brandy can be a factor in someone's behaviour, but it can't entirely replace motivation.

Although the director Tim Wilson imposes no distinguishing visual style on Head Above Water, there are signs that he has higher aspirations.

In the sudden shifts of tone, and the sparse locations, there are hints of Cul-de-Sac; the doomed marriage of the central characters, a young spark and an older, eccentric stiff, like Francoise Dorleac and Donald Pleasance in Polanski's film, confirms this. The only memorable moment in Head Above Water is the final sequence of cartoon carnage, featuring a runaway chainsaw and death-by-gazebo. It's got to be a first.

Jackie Chan's First Strike (12) Directed by: Stanley Tong. Starring: Jackie Chan, Chen Chun Wu

Who would have guessed that twinkling eyes and a goofy smile could be the key to the longevity of the modern action hero? I don't think Jackie Chan could get away with half the nonsense he puts on screen if he didn't look like your favourite teddy bear. Of course, the fact that he can defeat armies of ruthless killers and kickbox in stilts is a plus. But you already know he can pull off the stunts. It's the bits in between that really try your patience. The jokes. I use the word in its loosest sense. Here's Jackie in a fluffy seal-shaped hat. Jackie in comedy underpants. Jackie edging along a window-ledge and bursting into a woman's bathroom and - oh, finish the sentence yourself.

Don't let these low points, or even some gracious dubbing, put you off his latest film. Jackie Chan's First Strike does not, as the title might suggest, feature our hero venturing on to the picket line. Instead, it hinges on an antiquated espionage plot which can be summed up with a single line of dialogue from the film: "We need your help to retrieve the nuclear warhead stolen a few days ago". Criticising Jackie Chan films for their infantile humour and baggy screenplays would be like berating Tarkovsky for the lack of custard-pie fights in Solaris.

Naturally, the fight scenes are executed with equal measures of knowing absurdity and steely precision. And what Chan can do with a step-ladder, wielding it like an oversized pair of tweezers, is nobody's business.

Booty Call (18)

Directed by: Jeff Pollack. Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson.

Two horny black devils, Bunz (Jamie Foxx) and Rushon (Tommy Davidson) take a pair of sceptical young women (Vivica A Fox, Tamala Jones) out to dinner, hoping to charm them into bed.

But their efforts deteriorate into a long evening of coitus interruptus. And that's it. You might think that the makers of Booty Call would encounter difficulty dreaming up jokes as crude as that premise. You'd be wrong. A dog steals Rushon's last condom. Bunz and Rushon are mistaken for lovers, both men, over-eager in their pursuit of safe sex, wrap themselves in cling film.

There are a few things worth holding out for. Art Malik's uncredited cameo as a trigger happy shop-keeper is one, if only for curiosity value. The brassy young comedian Jamie Foxx pulses with vitality, and his delivery sparkles. You might never forget the sight and sound of him making love whilst impersonating prominent figures in black politics, from Martin Luther King to Jesse Jackson. Presumably Bernie Grant resides on the cutting- room floor.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

    £16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

    £9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    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