Ricky Gervais brings back David Brent – plus a girl-v-shark thriller, a kids classic and deadpan comedy with Danny De Vito and Julie Delpy.
David Brent: Life On The Road
E1 Entertainment / 19 Aug / Cert: 15
Thirteen years since we last saw Ricky Gervais’ loveably tragic boss in the mock-documentary television classic The Office, David Brent returns. Now a sales-rep, he’s left behind Wernham Hogg, the Slough-based paper suppliers where he (mis)managed his team and did that awful dance with the robot arms. So don’t expect any sightings of Gareth, Dawn or Tim here. Instead, Brent is trying to make it in the music industry, and this Spinal Tap-like doc takes us on his nationwide tour as he travels the country with his band Foregone Conclusion. If that makes it sound rather grand, fear not: Brent is still the sad-sack he’s always been, paying for the tour from his pension. Expect excruciating laughs.
Sony Pictures / 11 Aug / Cert: 15
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the cinemas...along comes Jaume Collet-Serra’s watery thriller. The pitch is simple – girl versus shark – as Blake Lively’s surfer Nancy gets stranded 200-feet from shore at a secluded Mexican beach spot. Injured and scrambling to safety on a rocky outcrop, with just a seagull for company, circling Nancy is a very hungry, very relentless great white. Blending the tension of Steven Spielberg’s shark classic Jaws with the squeamish survival instincts of 127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s real-life tale of a trapped climber, it’s a pared-back thriller that marks a significant change from the bloated blockbusters filling the summer schedule. The bikini-clad Lively makes for a game heroine in a film perfect for some late-night thrills.
Out now/Cert 15.
Writer-director Todd Solondz returns with his best film since his glory days, when he made the provocative 1998 award-winner Happiness. This latest, a picaresque comedy that sees an oh-so-cute Dachshund journey between several owners, is typical of Solondz’s bleak-and-biting outlook on life. Alongside the film’s canine hero, this series of linked-up short movies also stars Greta Gerwig, reprising Solondz’s picked-upon character Dawn Wiener from his 1995 film Welcome To The Dollhouse; Danny DeVito as a failed screenwriter/academic; and Ellen Burstyn as a cantankerous grandmother. Full of laugh-out-loud moments – not least ‘The Ballad of Wiener-Dog’, in the film’s mock interval halfway in – it’s hugely enjoyable, in a twisted way. Dog lovers be warned, though. This may not be the film for you.
Swallows and Amazons
Out 19 Aug / Cert: U
If you’re looking for the ideal family film for the school holidays, look no further than this. Revisiting the wholesome 1930 novel by Arthur Ransome, already made into a British classic film in 1974, this story about children messing around in boats on the Lake District has, thankfully, been kept as a period piece. Kelly Macdonald plays Mrs. Walker, who takes her quartet of bullish kids away for summer larks. There’s an espionage plot that’s been welded onto the story absent from the original, with Andrew Scott and Rafe Spall involved, and rather curiously the character of ‘Titty’ has seen her name morphed to ‘Tatty’ (played by Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen). Ah, how times have changed from these pre-war days of innocence...
Out 26 Aug / Cert: 15
Esteemed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar returns with his best film in a decade – the poignant story of a mother, Julieta, and her runaway daughter. The Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown director is at his most eloquent when he’s writing about female characters, and Julieta is no exception. With Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte playing her at different ages, it’s been elegantly put together, notably in one spellbinding transitional moment as Almodóvar cuts between the two women. For those who want more, and fancy exploring his earlier movies, London’s BFI Southbank is also playing host to a full retrospective of Almodóvar’s canon across August and September, while a six-film DVD and Blu-Ray boxset from StudioCanal is due on September 19th.