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Review: This week's new films

PUBLISHED: 09:28 25 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:32 01 July 2010

After stealing the show as rock star Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, comedian Russell Brand returns to the character in Get Him To The Greek. Plus: The Collector, Tetro, Girl On The Train, Breathless.

GET HIM TO THE GREEK (15)

***

After stealing the show as rock star Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, comedian Russell Brand returns to the character.

He takes centre stage for this spin-off "bromantic" comedy between the washed-up Snow and desperate-to-please record company executive Aaron Green (Jonah Hill).

With the promise of big sales, record label boss Sergio (a hilarious Sean "P Diddy" Coombes) orders Snow superfan Aaron to fetch the rocker from London and safely transport him to Los Angeles for a comeback gig. They embark on a three-day road trip of sex and drugs - and hilarity, as they say, ensues. At least it does to begin with. The opening half is a real giggle as Aaron endures Snow's cutting wit and his late-night benders while becoming his airport drugs mule.

A set piece involving a drug freak out - not to mention Snow's unorthodox approach to couple's counselling - keep the laughs coming in the second half but they can't sustain the early energy as Snow confronts his addictions and his bratty personality. Poignant revelations are all well and good but sometimes a good vomit gag is all you're after.

THE COLLECTOR (18)

*

This is the kind of horror film they don't make any more. At least, you wish they didn't.

Harking back to the "torture porn" tradition of over-the-top gore, this low budget, star-free exercise in ultra-violence manages to be both gruesome and mind-numbing bland.

Director Marcus Dunstan has been involved in the last few Saw sequels and here he creates his own house of horrors flick as debt-ridden handyman Arkin (Josh Stewart) breaks into his rich employer's house only to find someone far worse is already inside.

Arkin's journey from thief to hero puts a fresh spin on the formula but Dunstan never gives you a reason to care or even explain why any of this is happening in the first place.

Yes, the deaths are grisly - fish hooks, bear traps and a guillotine all make an appearance - and there are a few fun Wild E Coyote-esque contraptions but the villain is stupid and there isn't one likeable character among the victims. It makes for a film that even horror fans won't want in their collections.

TETRO (15)

****

Sibling rivalry drama Tetro marks director Francis Ford Coppola's first screenplay since the brilliant The Conversation in 1974. The Powers That Be seem to think that's significant, but returning to a craft after a long break doesn't guarantee success (I'm looking at you, George Lucas).

Thankfully Tetro is no Phantom Menace and although the drama never quite connects as powerfully as you'd like, it is a giant leap in the right direction after the nonsense of Coppola's Youth Without Youth.

Set in Buenos Aires, Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich) seeks out his cool older brother Tetro (Vincent Gallo) only to find a broken man who has abandoned his promising writing career. Bennie decides to finish off his stories and the finished product is noticed by a prominent critic, prompting a brotherly confrontation with more family secrets being unearthed.

There is a wonderfully kitchen sink drama vibe to the early scenes, with seething again bubbling just below the surface of Tetro's exchanges. Gallo and Ehrenreich are great but the real star is Coppola. His film may be self indulgent and too long but it's incredibly well made looks ravishing (watch for great homages to The Red Shoes), and proves the creative force is still strong in Coppola.

GIRL ON THE TRAIN (15)

***

Based on a true story about a non-Jewish woman who claimed she was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack, French drama tackles some prickly subject matter with a reassuringly cool head.

While out and about in Paris, job hunting youngster Jeanne (Emilie Dequenne) meets aspiring wrestler Franck (Nicolas Devauchelle) and fall into a relationship. When violence sends Franck to the hospital, a traumatised Jeanne concocts her lie - and the media and authorities gladly go along with it.

Her mother Louise (Catherine Deneuve) and old flame and Jewish lawyer Samuel Bleistein (Michel Blanc), on the other hand, are less convinced - and invite Jeanne to the countryside in a bid to tease the truth from her.

Though it raises obvious points about religion and race hate, director André Téchiné weaves them into mix via plots about Bleistein's dysfunctional family life and Jeanne's own worrying dislocation from those around her. As a study of failures to make emotional connections, it makes for slow but gripping viewing.

Superbly realised by Dequenne, Jeanne is a mystery of a character and the film-makers never suppose to fully understand her actions, just present them in all their intriguing complexity.

BREATHLESS (PG)

*****

Generally considered one of the most influential movies ever, Jean-Luc Godard's debut feature film gets a rerelease for its 50th anniversary after a painstaking digital restoration.

Almost defining cinematic cool when it was first released in 1960, the black and white French drama sees petty criminal Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) go on the run after shooting a police officer while hooking up with old flame Patricia (Jean Seberg), an American in Paris.

A kind of existential gangster movie, the film defies the stereotype of the self-consciously arty French drama. It makes sense for starters, but it also moves at a frantic pace, and it's shot through with humour - thanks to a cheeky turn from Belmondo as the charismatic hoodlum in love.

A quick caution: the frequent jumps are not a sign of a 50-year-old print but Godard's method of cutting the film to the required 90 minutes. He took out anything he considered boring, so rather than removing scenes, he snipped dull bits out of single shots.

The result gives the film a haphazard sense of life - and became one of Godard's most well known stylistic quirks.

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