Unlikeable characters in it to the bitter end

Michel Bouquet and Christa Theret in Renoir
Michel Bouquet and Christa Theret in Renoir
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It’s hard to know whether Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This Is The End (Cert 15) is a vast ego trip or a self-deprecating caper.

Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride play themselves blockaded in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside and the food begins to run out they turn on each other.

By depicting themselves as crass and narcissistic they are presumably trying to prove they are really the opposite by being able to laugh at themselves.

Whether or not you buy that, as characters none of them are at all likeable. Perhaps Emma Watson, in a brief hilarious turn, is the only one to emerge favourably.

The scatological humour is firmly pitched at teenage males and a lot of it is very funny and there’s some lavish special effects which wouldn’t seem out of place in an apocalyptic action movie.

With all the current news stories of undercover police infiltrating protest groups in the UK, The East (Cert 15) is certainly topical. Britt Marling, also co-writer with director Zal Batmanglij, plays former FBI agent Sarah Moss now working as an operative for a private intelligence firm. She gets sent to infiltrate a collection of dangerous environmental activists known as The East, who target corrupt multinational corporations and their CEOs responsible for destroying the planet. As she gathers evidence on The East and its activities, she develops an attraction to their charismatic leader (Alexander Skarsgaard) and loses sight of her original mission. Likewise the audience because although The East works as a tense thriller its political message is ambiguos.

Gilles Bourdos’s biopic Renoir (Cert 12A) begins with the arrival of a free-spirited redhead to join the entourage of the great impressionist painter on the Cote d’Azur during the First World War. She is Andree Heuschling (Christa Theret) who is destined to become the aged and arthritic painter’s last muse but also becomes close to his 21-year-old soldier son Jean (Vincent Rottiers), the future film-maker. It is a beautiful film but painfully slow.

For her third film, Stories We Tell (Cert 12A), Canadian director Sarah Polley chooses to move away from fiction into the realms of feature-length documentary, piecing together her family history through interviews with her loved ones, genuine home movies and specially shot segments, stylised to look like old Super 8 footage.

As she navigates past and present, Polley lays bare a web of secrets which reveal that she was born as the result of an extra-marital affair. It’s a fascinating story though even if it does become slightly repetitive towards the end.

Steve Carell returns as the voice of Gru in Despicable Me 2 (Cert U), the one-time arch-villain now living in unconventional domestic bliss as surrogate parent of three girls.

When a new threat to global peace emerges, Kristen Wiig, leader of the Anti-Villain League pressgangs him into working for the good guys to uncover the mastermind responsible for the theft of a top secret serum.

Once again it’s the diminutive yellow sidekicks, the Minnions, who steal the show.