Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Grimsby, King Jack, The Forest, more...

Out on Friday 26 February

Sacha Baron Cohen goes off the rails. Felix Thompsons debut is a smart coming-of-ager. Natalie Dormer enters the Suicide Forest. Yes, heres this weeks new releases. Click on for our reviews of King Jack, The Forest, The Propaganda Game , Exposed, Secret In Their Eyes, The Benefactor, BAFTA Shorts 2016 and The Smuggler. For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.

GRIMSBY

Theres a jumbo-sized gag in Sacha Baron Cohens latest thats as hilariously outrageous as anything in Borat. But on the whole, Grimsby has its creator-slash-star operating on a tamer, more sentimental register than usual, even when giving himself a pube goatee or doing alarming things to a certain ex-child actor. The strange thing about Grimsby is that it works much better as a Bond-spoofing actioner than it does as a politically incorrect rib-tickler which might have something to do with it being Louis Leterrier behind the camera instead of Cohens customary collaborator Larry Charles. The Transporter man deftly serves up a battery of explosive set-pieces, kicking off with a pursuit through an African market-place viewed from the FPS-style perspective of MI6 super-spy Sebastian Butcher (Mark Strong). Yet hes on shakier ground when the focus shifts to Butchers feckless sibling Nobby (Cohen): a beer-swilling, football-loving benefits cheat who tracks Seb down after 28 years for what he hopes will be an emotional reunion. What he does, of course, is botch up Sebastians current mission to such a degree they are immediately placed on Interpols most-wanted list, forcing them to hide out in their home town of Grimsby where Nobby ekes a suitably Shameless life with his slobbish girlfriend (Rebel Wilson, given as little to do as Penelope Cruz and Isla Fisher are in their thankless roles as glamorous villain and MI6 helpmate respectively). Its a cartoonish portrait of the British underclass, conveyed with a Gallagher brothers swagger. But its one weve seen before, not least from the films own under-utilised supporting players (Ricky Tomlinson, Johnny Vegas). Nobby, in short, isnt an inspired enough creation to justify a vehicle with even this ones skimpy running time. And though lovers of Cohens outr humour will probably delight at the indignities heaped on a wheelchair-bound boy and copious jokes involving bodily fluids, theyre a poor substitute for the fearless, skewering satire we know hes capable of. Director: Louis Leterrier Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Gabourey Sidibe Theatrical release: 24 February 2016 Neil Smith

KING JACK

You could probably write off Felix Thompsons feature debut as yet another festival-friendly coming-of-ager with an ambient indie soundtrack and a few liberally-applied sunlight filters. But theres just enough reality tucked behind all the whimsy to give it clout. Most of the credit goes to 16-year-old rising star Charlie Plummer, easily carrying the whole film on his scrawny shoulders as the delinquent teen who wastes a weekend with his kid cousin in Nowheresville: spray-painting doors, dodging bullies and mooning over the girl he hasnt got the nerve to talk to. Its slight stuff, sure, but King Jack is a film thats executed with smarts and sensitivity. Director: Felix Thompson Starring: Charlie Plummer, Cory Nichols, Christian Madsen, Danny Flaherty Theatrical release: 26 February 2016 Paul Bradshaw

THE FOREST

When her sister Jess (Natalie Dormer) goes missing in Aokigahara AKA Japans Suicide Forest Sara (also Natalie Dormer) ventures deep into the forbidden woods, aided by a handsome stranger (Taylor Kinney) who may or may not be a psychopath. Though its set in one of the scariest places on earth, this gore-free spooker wastes a creepy premise on an endless hike that leads to a cheap, cop-out ending. Debut director Jason Zada takes a stab at claustrophobic, surreal horror and there are some fog-choked trees and ominous ice caves that nearly chill the blood, but rest assured your last camping trip packed more thrills. Director: Jason Zada Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor KinneyTheatrical release: 26 February 2016 Ken McIntyre

EXPOSED

When this carried its original title (Daughter Of God) it was a surreal, Pans Labyrinth-style story about a Latina woman (Ana de Armas) and her sudden influx of visions. Now, though, its a Keanu Reeves cop thriller, his small role having been elevated in the edit. It wasnt worth it. Director Gee Malik Linton removed his name from this mess of a film (its now credited to one Declan Dale), a story which makes little to no sense, with huge sub-plots (all involving black or Latino characters) either abandoned or stitched awkwardly together. A shame, because there are interesting ideas here buried beneath the scar tissue. Director: Declan Dale Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ana de Armas Theatrical release: 26 February 2016 Stephen Kelly

THE PROPAGANDA GAME

Spanish doc-maker lvaro Longoria (Sons Of The Clouds) delivers a fascinating insight into the hermit nation, North Korea. Invited on an incredibly rare opportunity to tour the country, Longoria meets the people and policy-makers while contrasting his findings with western viewpoints. Smartly letting the audience decide who is to blame in this propaganda war, he addresses everything from the DPRKs nuclear capabilities to the horrified reaction to The Interview, the Seth Rogen comedy about the assassination of beloved leader Kim Jong-un. Endlessly intriguing. Director: Alvaro Longoria Theatrical release: 26 February 2016 James Mottram

SECRET IN THEIR EYES

A pointless Hollywood remake of the 2009 Oscar-winning Argentinian film that appears to exist solely to eliminate the need for subtitles. The story centres on Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a former FBI agent whos still haunted by a 13-year-old murder mystery. While snooping around a mosque during a counter-terrorism case, he discovers the body of his partner Jess (Julia Roberts) daughter in a dumpster. Thereafter the film flashes back and forth clunkily between 2002 and the present to reveal how the killings are linked. Its a fine story, but you already saw the better, tauter version half a decade ago. Director: Billy Ray Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts Theatrical release: 26 February 2016 Ken McIntyre

THE BENEFACTOR

Richard Gere is the millionaire philanthropist who starts throwing cash at Dakota Fanning and Theo James debt-ridden newlyweds in director Andrew Renzis debut indie a sad little fable about a lonely, eccentric old morphine addict trying to buy his way into someone elses family. Its an interesting idea for a film thats sadly squandered by Renzis overwritten script, bogged down with flashbacks, plot detours and too many opportunities for Gere to grandstand. All three stars are left adrift in a dull drama filled with good intentions and not a whole lot else. Director: Andrew Renzi Starring: Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Theo James Theatrical release: 26 February 2016 Paul Bradshaw

BAFTA SHORTS 2016

Two individuals fall from a great height in this compilation of this years BAFTA short-film nominees. One, the subject of Over, is an asylum seeker concealed in a planes wheel-well. The other, in Manoman, is a puppet one of two showcased here, the other being a stop-motion fetishist contemplating suicide in Edmond. Add Kate Dickie as a 999 call handler in (deservedly) winning entry Operator and naked Spartans fighting a line-drawn battle to the death in Prologue and its the very definition of a mixed bag. A shame, though, that rights issues kept the eighth nominee Brighton-set romance Elephant out. Director: Various Starring: Various Theatrical release: 26 February 2016 Neil Smith

THE SMUGGLER

Aussie director Angus Simpson just doesnt give a shit. Which is basically half the fun of his self-starring scatological comedy the gross tale of a sad-sack TV repairman who gets bullied into smuggling a kilo of Bangkok heroin in his bowels only to be arrested by police and sweated out over a toilet bowl for the seven excruciating days theyre allowed to detain him. Its a cheek-clenchingly tense waiting game that Sampson plays perfectly, with bent cop Hugo weaving and thug Leigh Whannell trying everything they can to force a fart for different reasons. Dont watch on a full stomach... Directors: Tony Mahony, Angus Sampson Starring: Hugo Weaving Angus Sampson Leigh Whannell Theatrical release: 22 February 2016 Paul Bradshaw

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