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Flashy but flimsy 1940s gangster caper fails to excite

Gangster Squad (15)

HH

Dir: Ruben Fleischer

With: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling

Runtime: 113 minutes

HEY you, ya mutt! Wanna see a picture show where loadsa big movie stars hit the dressing-up box to play 1940s cops, gangsters and molls, and where all a dem tawk like dat?

Then you are likely on your own with this flashy but flimsy caper from Ruben Fleischer.

Only God and Jimmy Cagney know what the likes of James Brolin, Emma Stone and actor of the moment Ryan Gosling thought they were getting involved in with this tale of a police squad going off the books to tackle a notorious gangster (played by Sean Penn) who is intent on taking over Los Angeles.

Only Penn, who gets to work out a lot of anger management issues, really looks as if he is having fun.

Untouchable.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (U)

HHH

Dir: David Gelb

Runtime: 81 minutes

BOOKINGS must be made a month in advance at Jiro Ono's tiny sushi restaurant in Tokyo, and prices start at 30,000 yen (£186) for a meal. A lot of fuss over raw fish you might think, but the Michelin inspectors, who have given the place three stars, don't think so, nor do sushi aficionados the world over. David Gelb's documentary looks at the life and motivations of the 85-year-old chef and ponders who will take over from him. The personal aspect enlivens what would otherwise be a foodie's documentary dream only.

What Richard Did (15)

HHHH

Dir: Lenny Abrahamson

With: Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy

Runtime: 88 minutes

GOOD at sports, academically sound, a natural leader among men, the Richard of the title is something of a Perfect Pete. He's not one for the "heavy stuff" in life is our Richard, but that's just what director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Malcolm Campbell puts his way in this subtle and clever Irish drama. What starts out as a typical coming-of-age tale set among 18-year-old Dubliners becomes twistier as it goes on. That, the deceptively low-key style and fine performances all round, particularly Richard Karlsen as Richard, make for a surprising, impressive, satisfying watch.

Glasgow Film Theatre, tomorrow-January 17; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, January 25-31.

Child 31 (N/C)

HHH

Dir: Charles Kinnane

Runtime: 32 minutes

readers of The Herald will be familiar with the work of Mary's Meals, the Scots-run charity that feeds half a million children around the world every school day. Director Charles Kinnane brings the story of towering compassion mixed with on-the-ground skills to a wider audience with this moving if brief (32 minutes) documentary.

While the film follows founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow from the charity's HQ (a hut in Dalmally), as he travels from India to Malawi to Kenya and beyond, the main focus, rightly, is on the children, and it is only a pity the running time wasn't longer to allow more of their stories to be told. A brilliant cause, well conveyed.

Glasgow Film Theatre, January 12, noon. Tickets free; donations to Mary's Meals welcome.

HHH

Dir: Jen and Sylvia Soska

With: Katherine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo

Runtime: 100 minutes

THE Soska sisters, rapidly becoming the high priestesses of modern horror, deliver another jaw dropper in this tale of a med school student going rogue. Trainee surgeon Mary (Katherine Isabelle) is finding it hard making ends meet, so when she is offered a job making ends of another kind meet, she initially hesitates then goes for it. Riches are hers to be had from the "body mod" (modification) community, but will her fellow surgeons treat her with the respect she deserves? A roaring start and an unforgettable finish are let down by a flabby bit in the middle, but lots of grotesquely lovely touches. Definitely not for the squeamish: even hardcore fans of Casualty will flinch at this one. .

Glasgow Film Theatre, January 13, 7.30pm

Showgirls (18)

HH

Dir: Paul Verhoeven

With: Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon

Runtime: 125 minutes

IT received a critical slaughtering on its release in 1995, so it is only natural that Paul Verhoeven's pole dancing and strippers drama should come back in the next life as a cult movie. It's just an old fashioned tale of a young woman, Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley), hoping to be a glamorous showgirl in Vegas, baby, only to discover that the only thing that glisters in that town is a gold nipple tassel. More sexist than a club comic from the Seventies and cheesier than a fondue the size of Switzerland, Showgirls takes the height of bad taste to the penthouse level.

Showing as part of GFT's Bad Movie Night season, but you probably guessed that.

Glasgow Film Theatre, January 15, 8.10pm

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