Niagara Gazette

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August 27, 2013

CALLERI: From Britain, without much love; a spy movie flails about

Niagara Gazette — A pair of movies from Britain has entered the public consciousness as Hollywood and film fans enter the festival season that has kicked-off in Venice, shifts to Telluride, and then takes over Toronto. The latter’s movie marathon begins the Thursday after Labor Day.

Last weekend, “The World’s End,” a scattershot trifle from the English comedy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, vainly tried to wrest money from North Americans. Pegg and Frost’s movie failed, limping to a weak Friday through Sunday take of $8.7 million. The figure seems acceptable, but it isn’t. Even considering the film’s low $20 million budget, that’s not a good box office. Audiences preferred the beautifully acted intelligence of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” the silly bawdiness of “We’re The Millers,” and the history lesson told in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

“The World’s End” is about five English schoolmates who went to high school together and decades later are compelled to complete a failed pub crawl in their hometown because of the urging of the most unproductive graduate among them. The movie is funny for the first half hour because it’s about something substantial, a man who won’t grow up. Than it switches gears and becomes a slapdash pile of faltering familiarity about robots run amok. The ending is completely wrongheaded. Director Edgar Wright co-wrote the screenplay with Pegg. Their film lacks cohesion. Think of a slapstick “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” but without any style.

This weekend, the British are hoping to lure moviegoers with “Closed Circuit.” I enjoy thrillers, especially spy movies and pictures filled with political intrigue. Government duplicity and intense paranoia can make for engaging moviegoing.

“Closed Circuit” starts out interesting. At the start, a television monitor becomes two monitors and then four, and then doubles again and again. Closed circuit cameras watch everyone and everything. We’re at the historic Borough Market in London, the site of which has been a gathering place for food shoppers since 1041. An explosion fills the screen. Hundreds are killed, many more are injured. A suspect is arrested. He’s assigned a lawyer, who dies. We’re barely ten minutes into the film.

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