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Bale and Affleck's blue-collar tale lacks fire

Cinema reviews

BLEAK: Out of the Furnace turns out to be a real slog of a watch.
BLEAK: Out of the Furnace turns out to be a real slog of a watch.

Cinema reviews

Out of the Furnace (15)

Dir: Scott Cooper

With: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck

Runtime: 117 minutes

SUCH is the born in the USA, blue-collar bent of Scott Cooper's drama you could be forgiven for thinking Bruce Springsteen was the director. He isn't. It would have been a far livelier picture if he had rocked up and shook matters up a little.

As it is, Christian Bale and Casey Affleck slog their way through the picture playing brothers Russell and Rodney, steel mill worker and soldier respectively. Life is tough in the Rust Belt, what with jobs going overseas and foreign wars.

But for local gangster Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) there is money to be made in these hard times from organising bare knuckle boxing contests.

In the midst of all these testosterone-drenched goings on, Russell's girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana) tries to bring a little tenderness and the female touch to proceedings. The performances are decent enough, even if Affleck struggles to convince as a soldier turned bare knuckle scrapper, but the tone is one note bleak and depressing.

The Armstrong Lie (15)

Dir: Alex Gibney

Runtime: 124 minutes

OSCAR-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney had a problem. He had been working on a documentary on Lance Armstrong's comeback when the scandal of the Tour de France winner's doping well and truly erupted.

Oprah Winfrey landed the first sit-down with the cyclist, headlines were made all over the world, and the circus moved on.

You might then wonder what else Gibney could bring to the story, and you will likely still be wondering that at the end of 124 minutes.

The director of We Steal Secrets and Mea Maxima Culpa goes through the tale in typically thorough and stylish fashion, and those who cannot get enough of the Armstrong story will find much of interest.

Overall, though, this feels like two documentaries bolted together, a before and after Oprah, and as such doesn't reveal much that is new.

Glasgow Film Theatre and Filmhouse, Edinburgh, from tomorrow

That Awkward Moment (15)

Dir: Tom Gormican

With: Zac Efron, Imogen Poots

Runtime: 94 minutes

THIS Sex and the City-style comedy drama substitutes young guys for mature women and wit for crassness as it charts the dating life of the lesser spotted, late twentysomething New York male.

Zac Efron, also a producer, plays Jason, a graphic designer who likes to keep his women on a rota and lives in fear of that "awkward moment" when one of them asks for a little more commitment than knowing their phone number.

Predictably enough, along comes a kooky sort (Imogen Poots) to make him think again.

Tom Gormican's picture is stuffed to the gunwales with awkward moments, which include conversations about toileting habits and F-bombs being dropped left, right and centre.

What is most likely to bring on a blush, followed by extreme boredom, are the attempts of Efron and his co-stars to riff humorously on their lives and loves.

The material is about as funny as a giant plook appearing on the nose before a first date, and Efron's twinkly eyed charisma is soon stretched painfully thin.

As for his co-star Miles Teller's continuing attempts to be the noughties John Belushi, much work remains to be done.

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