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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
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

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam