Garrone hits mark with poke at celebrity culture


Ian Soutar casts his eye over the pick of this week’s films on general release

THE director of gangster movie Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone, has come up with something very different with Reality (Cert 15), a satire on celebrity culture. Although, if the tone is a lot lighter it is still packs a punch.

Neapolitan fishmonger and small-time conman Luciano (Aniello Arena) is the life and soul of the party who never misses an opportunity to perform for his customers and his large (in both senses) extended family.

In the opening scene, a gaudy wedding which looks like something out of Fellini, Luciano is mesmerised by a celebrity appearance by Enzo (Raffaele Ferrante), a former Big Brother contestant who now enjoys a glamorous life and rides around in a helicopter .

A few weeks later auditions for the next series of Grande Fratello as they call it, are held in a shopping mall in Naples and Luciano’s family urge him to try out.

After getting a callback to a second audition in Rome Luciano becomes convinced that he will get picked for the programme.

But the tension of waiting to hear takes its toll and he begins to lose a grip on reality slipping into a self-delusional fantasy to the bemusement of his trashy family and despair of his wife Maria (Loredana Simioli).

In one link to the celebrated Gomorra, Matteo Garrone’s leading man, Aniello Arena, is a convicted Mafia hitman serving a life sentence who has turned to acting and was allowed out on licenc e to make the film. And very good he is too in making Luciano fit into. The most depressing thing on view, however, are the glimpses we get of Grande Fratello.

X-Men director Bryan Singer enlisted Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie among his team of writers for Jack the Giant Slayer (Cert 12A) which might suggest a dark re-telling of the fairytale familiar from many a pantomime. But it retains an appropriately rollicking mood to the yarn as young farmhand Nicholas Hoult comes into possession of a handful of beans which proceed to sprout upwards to open up a gateway into a land of fearsome giants who are roused to try and reclaim the world from which they were banished from long ago.

Jack finds himself leading the fight for his kingdom and its people and also for the love of the princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), betrothed to the deceitful Roderick (Stanley Tucci).

There’s a largely British supporting cast including Bill Nighy as the the ferocious two-headed leader of the giants, Ian MacShane as the king and Ewan McGregor as his loyal knight enjoying what is for the most part a romp but some of the violence is quite strong for a 12A certificate.

DreamWorks animated prehistoric comedy adventure The Croods (Cert 12A) follows the world’s first family on a journey of discovery after becoming homeless in an earthquake.

Grug Crood (voiced by Nicolas Cage) has taught his family to be afraid of the dark and new experiences and to protect his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), restless daughter Eep (Emma Stone), oafish son Thug (Clark Duke), feral baby daughter Sandy and decrepit mother (Cloris Leachman) by ushering them into a cave where they will be safe from the prehistoric creatures that roam the land.

During a forbidden night-time excursion, Eep encounters a nomadic caveboy called Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who tells her that the end of the world is nigh. Soon after, the Croods’ cave is destroyed by a massive earthquake.

The Croods join Guy and his pet sloth Belt on the expedition through uncharted territory in search of a new place to call home. En route, Grug confronts his fears about losing his children and Eep fans the flames of romance with Guy.