Sausage Party

Director: Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan (2016) BBFC cert: 15

Supermarket foodstuffs come to life and take on a mind of their own in this saucy animated comedy.

The  cheerfully offensive stoner humour is stuffed with racial and religious stereotypes indulging in an orgy of sex, booze and drugs. It’s an acquired taste and bound to offend many, but once it gets cooking on gas it offers some bite-sized satisfaction.

Each evening the products sing to celebrate the day they’ll be picked from the shelves and taken out to ‘the great beyond’ by the gods of the aisles, the customers.

However when a hot dog sausage and his bun discover their real purpose in life, they struggle to convince their friends of the truth.

They’re also being chased by the Douche, a feminine hygiene product who wants revenge for the thwarting of his plan to reach the afterlife.

Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, James Franco and Michael Cera provide the voices with Salma Hayek plays a tacos looking to spice up her life.

Defiantly and unapologetically rude from the off, this is an adult treat and definitely not one for the kids.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

 

Good People

Director: Henrik Ruben Genz (2015)

Temptation brings danger to a struggling young couple in this silly and dingy thriller.

Americans Tom and Anna are the good people making a fresh start in London after suffering a domestic tragedy. They’re neither especially bright nor particularly likeable.

Though we’re told they’ve been together for a long time, there’s an unfortunate lack of chemistry between James Franco and Kate Hudson in the lead roles.

Having inherited Tom’s grandmother’s large house, they’ve accumulated large debts trying to renovate it.

When they discover £220,000 of much needed cash in the flat of dead neighbour, they can’t resist helping themselves.

Danish director Gnez has his cinematographer Jorgen Johansson dress the city in the gloom typical of Scandinavian noir, adding an extra layer of dreariness to proceedings.

The moral question of taking the money is quickly glossed over as the plot descends into bloody, predictable, tension-free violence. It occasionally strays unintentionally close to farce.

Tom Wilkinson plays a grieving cop chasing Sam Spruell’s villain who is trying to recover his stolen drugs money.

As Omar Sy wanders through as an urbane Frenchman trying to muscle in on the London heroin trade, the always engaging Anna Friel is wasted in a role requiring her to cradle a baby, squeal at a washing machine and perch precariously up a ladder.

As threats are issued, hands broken and furniture is destroyed, nail guns and snooker cues are put to use which probably affect their warranty.

True Story

Director: Rupert Goold (2015)

Identity theft, serial killing and untrustworthy journalism make for a mire of mendacity in this chilly courtroom thriller.

It’s based on the memoir of Mike Finkel (Jonah Hill), a former New York Times journalist who was sacked for fabricating a story.

He receives a phone call asking for an opinion on homicide suspect Christian Longo (James Franco) who has been caught in Mexico using Finkel’s identity.

Longo is charged with murdering his wife and three daughters and faces the death penalty. As grisly details of the deaths emerge, he paints his family as a victim of harsh economic circumstance.

Sensing a book deal and career resurrection, Finkel interviews Longo in prison and a curious relationship develops based on questionable motives.

Longo is evasive about what happened and emphasises his ordinariness. Finkel equates his own lies to be crimes of a similar magnitude to those of the accused.

Spending a lot of time rubbing his eyes in front of a laptop in a lonely hotel room, Finkel is under pressure from the police, his publisher and his girlfriend Jill (Felicity Jones).

Hill, Franco and Jones have each been nominated for an Oscar. Hill in Moneyball (2011) and Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Franco in 127 Hours (2010) and Jones for A Theory Of Everything (2014).

Hill and Franco previously starred together in weak apocalypse comedy This Is The End (2013).

Principal photography on True Story began way back in March 2013 and it was released in the US in April 2015.

With Jones’ Oscar nomination announced in mid-January 2015, it’s tempting to imagine the producers threw in every useable piece of footage they possessed of her to capitalise on her resultant higher profile.

In any case her character Jill spends most of her scenes alone or not interacting with her fellow performers, such as in a courtroom scene where she simply stands and stares.

At other times she plays piano runs in the woods, immerses herself in work and takes baths. It all accentuates her isolation but has no bearing at all on the plot.

Jones and Hill’s characters have little screen time and she has no purpose other than to make Finkel seem a more rounded personality.

Without her – even with her – Finkel is self-absorbed, humourless, arrogant and professionally flawed. We wonder what attracted each to the other and why she stays with him.

It’s not the first film to dramatise a journalist’s attempts to exploit a prisoner for their own ends. Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood (pub. 1966) provided a basis for Capote (2005) and Infamous (2006).

A mournful soundtrack, muted colours, studied editing and a measured pace allows for a focus on strong performances.

But it’s difficult to place your sympathy on either of the wholly unreliable storytellers.