IN&OUTTONIGHT 24 Thursday, 17 September 2009 London Lite H ow well-timed is this film, in the light of the barney between west Ham and Millwall fans in the Carling Cup recently and the disgraceful behaviour of Arsenal supporters in Manchester last Saturday? whats even more impressive than the felicitous timing of the release of this remake of Alan Clarkes 1988 TV classic about football hooliganism, is that it was made by Nick Love -- the man behind such previous toxic rubbish as 2004s The Football Factory (hoolie porn) and 2007s outlaw (vigilante porn) -- and its actually really good. Now, perhaps this is a total coincidence, but what is notable about The Firm is that there is a distinct lack of Danny Im a Cockney, me Dyer, until now a staple in Loves terrible tat. Instead, at the centre of this tale of west Hams firm and their unholy love of a ruck, is a mesmeric and terrifying perform- ance from Paul Anderson as their totemic, bewedged casual leader, Bex, a man never knowingly seen without a pastel Sergio Tacchini leisure suit. In fact, in an early key scene in Lips nightclub (how Eighties is that name?) Bex is wearing a tight top and very short red Fila shorts. A young, mis- guided wiseass, Jay (Joe Jackson) says he looks like facking Bjorn Borg and earns himself a sledge- hammer of a headbutt. Jay and his mate, Dom (Calum McNab, a kind of young Stevie Gerrard), are then told Bex is after them and to avoid another pasting they visit Bexs local, The Lord Nelson, where Dom apolo- gises for their disrespect. Impressed by Doms boldness, Bex encourages the youngster to join his crew -- but not before sorting out his wardrobe and going tax- ing (shoplifting) for prime sportswear. Dom is bewitched by Bexs brio and quickly falls under the spindly thugs spell. No good can come from such a dalliance and the story does not shy away from spelling out the conse- quences of a life of violence. The key to The Firms success is that, unlike The Football Factory, hooliganism is not glam- orised. Its nasty, brutish stuff -- whats so glam about being slashed across the face with a Stanley knife? But it does also explain why they became hoolies. It wasnt, as with much of todays gang culture, primarily a consequence of social deprivation. They just liked fight- ing. Simple as. The Firm also works because its believable. The writers prob- ably tried too hard to get the slang right (I grew up in south London and never heard the insult melt) but it looks real and the script is sharp, savage and spot-on. REVIEWSCINEMA The Firm Cert 18, 90mins HHHHI Ontheballwith soccer savagesREVIEW BY PAUL CONNOLLY Adisaster fromthe firstdate You can imagine some wag must have thought they hit the jackpot with this lame disability comedy. Its about a guy who goes on blind dates; the twist is hes actually blind! Visually impaired twentysomething Danny (Chris Pine) has no idea how cute he is. Yet he has a profound effect on women, girls swoon and even his psychiatrist (Jane Seymour) cant help taking her clothes off in his company -- just to give you an idea of the humour involved. His brother Larry (Eddie Kaye Thomas) decides its time he gets laid and sets him up with a series of dates. But what begins as awkward slapstick soon turns into a culture- clash comedy when he meets Hindu receptionist Leeza (Dee Macaluso). Its no surprise this film has taken three years to reach Britain -- its uneven and unfunny. Blind Dating -- dont see it. AMBER COWAN Relishameatykidscomedy Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs Cert U,89minsHHHHI Alsoshowing... Cringeworthy: Pine and Macaluso Blind Dating Cert 15, 95 mins HIIII NoW this is how 3-D movies should be. Never mind your G-Forces or Ice Age 3s, films that only used the technology as gimmicks (you can only become excited so many times by the sight of a hand coming out of the screen at you). Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, based on the 1978 childrens book by Judi and Ron Barrett, is similar to the captivating Coraline in that the 3-D element enriches the movie and makes it better than it would have been in 2-D. Young inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) lives with his father on a remote isle in the mid-Atlantic, whose inhabitants live almost entirely on sardines. So young Lockwood, inventor of spray-on shoes (which, he discovers, you can never remove), decides to invent a machine which turns water into food. Nice idea, huh? And its a success, until the machine is fired up into the heavens and precipitates (sorry) some freak weather. What kind of freak weather? oh well, showers of meatballs, cheeseburgers, pizzas, hot dogs, steaks, ice cream, that kind of thing. But, once the island endures a spaghetti tornado, Lockwood and cute-as- a-button weather girl (Anna Faris) realise that they have to disarm the machine. Its lunatic stuff, of course, and not just for the kids -- this is a bizarre, funny, moving film that should appeal to everyone with a heart and a funny bone. PC Strange weather: Flint (Bill Hader)in aburger storm THE film AwAy we Go (cert 15, 97 mins, HHHHI) could have been a smug indie offering about how only well-adjusted liberals make decent parents. But Sam Mendess new movie about a couples search for the perfect place to bring up their child avoids such pitfalls with the chemistry between the leads (John Krasinski as Burt and Maya Rudolph as Verona) and a top script. Chevolution (No cert, 86 mins, HHHII) is a portrait of that portrait of Che Guevara that has graced many a students wall. Many dont know what Che even did but Gael Garca Bernal, Antonio Banderas and Gerry Adams put Kordas iconic photo in context. It makes for marginally more exciting viewing than Catherine Deneuves stroll through Southern Lebanon in Je Veux Voir (cert 12A, 75 mins, HHIII). The actress and her guide visit destroyed buildings and drive down landmine-filled roads but never explain what they are hoping to see. we didnt get to see Gamer (Cert 18, 95 mins), a thriller starring Gerard Butler so we cant mark it but it has been hammered by US critics. we did catch 31 North 62 east (cert 15, 99 mins, HIIII), a vapid thriller about corruption, and we wish we hadnt -- its one of the worst films weve seen. Chemistry: John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph Kicking off: but the Firm avoids glamorising hooliganism 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.html