28 Thursday, 3 September 2009 London Lite (500) Days Of Summer Cert 12A, 95 mins HHHHI Summerloving is a shining hit Onemans riverquest runsdeep DESPITE being a little bit old, a little bit fat and a little bit drunk, 53-year-old Martin Strel has tackled the worlds longest rivers to be crowned the worlds toughest endurance swimmer and a Slovenian superhero. This weird documentary, narrated by his son and head of logistics Borut, paddles alongside Strel on his 2007 attempt to take on the 3,393- mile Amazon. Our jolly hero lubes up, pops a bottle of wine in his Speedos and hops into the Peruvian waters in the name of being green. But there is nothing eco-preachy about this riotously funny look at what evolves from a clean water campaign into one mans battle against his own demons. And the biggest surprise does not come in the form of poo-in-wetsuit hell but in the shocking way in which the optimistic tone of the documentary turns into something sinister and quite heartbreaking. mARTHADELAcEy Aliensareprawntobewild District 9 Cert15,112minsHHHHI Alsoshowing... Heartbreaking: Joseph Gordon-Levitt decides that Zooey Deschanel is The One in (500) Days Of Summer Wine into water: Martin Strel Big River Man Cert 15, 100 mins HHHHI REVIEWBy AmBER coWAn L ast year, professors at a scottish university published a study claim- ing that romcoms are bad for the health. the psychologists -- who presumably spent their research grant on Richard Curtis boxsets -- concluded that films such as Love actually and Notting Hill create unrealistic expectations of romance. Like, duh. You cant help wondering what their superior analytical skills would make of (500) Days Of summer. Marc Webbs low-budget comedy has become americas sleeper hit of the year, launching on 27 screens and eventually rolling out to more than 1,000. Its a not-really- love story asking: what if there is no meant to be? the hero of this sweet, sussed film is twentysomething tom (Heath Ledger lookalike Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He works for a greeting cards company and firmly believes in the existence of the One. He thinks he finds her in his bosss new assistant, summer (Zooey Deschanel). to tom, their destiny is written in the stars. they both like the smiths; they even have a Bruce springsteen connection (hes from New Jersey, her cat is called Bruce). But summer, a free- spirited indie chick, feels differ- ently. shes not interested in having a boyfriend and tells tom shes only looking for fun. You know shell dump him from five minutes in, you also know why. But its impossible not to be seduced by their story which ping-pongs forwards and back- wards in time. a kiss by the photocopiers on day 28 is followed by a bitter sulk on day 316. a trip to Ikea turns from delight (in kitch- ens) to despair (in bedrooms). Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt give exceptional performances as more-or-less recognisable characters, even if the film is cut from the same (plaid) cloth as most american indie films. Despite that, theres a truthful- ness to (500) Days Of summer that sets it apart from cookie cutter romcoms. It sees relation- ships for what they are -- bruis- ing -- and paints a picture of a broken heart. theres a brilliant scene where tom leaves a party that has gone badly and the col- our drains from the screen. there are no happy endings -- tom and summer are just, in California-speak, at different places in their lives. and because of it, this anti-romance, with a refreshingly grown-up twist, will stay with you well into autumn. In&oUTTonIGHT FILmS aNDRZeJ JakIMOWskI captures the magic of childhood poetically in Tricks (Cert 12A, 96 mins, HHHHI), a gently funny family drama in which inquisitive rapscallion stefek (Damian Ul) skips about his dusty village with elka (ewelina Walendziak) a big sister who, in stefeks small eyes, seems to make miracles happen. Peddling different types of tricks are the surfbods in Bustin Down The Door (Cert 15, 96 mins, HHHII), a niche but visually powerful film about the waveriders who turned a hobby into a profession in Hawaii in the seventies. Less light-hearted is The Red Baron (Cert 12, 101 mins, HHHII), a German effort to bring the tale of the First World Wars most successful fighter pilot to a younger, international audience. It almost succeeds -- dubbing it into english for those who dont do subtitles and casting Joseph Fiennes as the Barons Canadian nemesis are nice touches. But brushing over those pesky deaths belittles the war itself. Finally, BFG lookalike Greek Pete (Cert 18, 75 mins, HHHII) moves to London to further his gay escort career in this based-on-real-life improvised drama. Petes emotional journey is moving but its hard to forget youre essentially watching gay porn in a dark room, surrounded by strangers. Magic Tricks: Damian Ul and Ewelina Walendziak REVIEWSCINEMA ScI-fI films are, by definition, out there, but District 9 may be the barmiest block- buster Ive ever seen. Directed by South African newcomer Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, it takes a ludicrous idea, throws money at it and comes up with something to make Jacksons The Lord Of The Rings trilogy look restrained. Set in present-day Johannesburg, the premise is that 20 years ago a spaceship from a distant star parked just over the city. Inside were alien refugees that look like giant prawns with huge, springy legs. They are given a city area that becomes a terrifying slum: District 9. Private security firm MNU is tasked with moving the aliens to the desert, and middle-manager Wikus (Sharlto copley) enters District 9 to serve them an eviction notice. But finding an illegal weapons factory, he is accidentally splattered by DNA-altering liquid, making him half-man, half-prawn. With me so far? It hardly matters, because from here on in, its one long gun battle: prawn vs man. Wikus finds he can operate the aliens biological weapons. But the armys bombs can blast their soft shells. The result? Barbecued prawns. Spliced with news channel-style footage, District 9 has an obvious subtext: the aliens are a not-so-subtle metaphor for South Africas deprived immigrants. Really, though, its hard to concentrate on anything but the ultra-violence on screen. With an ending that suggests an even more preposterous sequel in which rival races battle for the sun, this film about killer prawns will, appropriately, leave you shell-shocked. Ac Having a blast: Sharlto Copley and, left, an alien refugee index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html