The Way, Way Back (12A)

Three stars

Dirs: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

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With: Steve Carell, Toni Collette

Runtime: 103 minutes

NAT Faxon and Jim Rash, two of the writers behind the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Descendants (with Alexander Payne), make their directorial debut with this sweet but spiky coming of age indie.

Liam James plays Duncan, an awkward teen being made more so by having to go on a summer break to the seaside with his mum (Toni Collette) and his mum's new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell).

Bullied by Trent and with no friends of his own, Duncan finds refuge in a nearby waterpark managed by ageing dropout Owen (Sam Rockwell). Can one find a new family in life, or must you do the best with what you have?

Like The Descendants, the comedy here is of the gentle, meandering kind, but here and there a swift, lethal kick to the assumptions is delivered.

While Carell proves himself as dab a hand at playing a jerk as his more familiar good guy, it is Sam Rockwell as a king of the slackers who does most to make this likeable picture a cure for the post holiday blues.

One Direction: This Is Us (PG)


Dir: Morgan Spurlock

With: Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik

Runtime: 92mins

ANYONE hoping that Morgan Spurlock was going to take a bite out of the One Direction phenomenon in the same way he did the fast food industry in Supersize Me should think again. This is strictly for the fans.

The film has been made with the band's blessing and is a love letter to their rise from X Factor rejects to world's biggest boy band. Spurlock defies anyone who sees it, sceptics included, not to come out the other end liking Harry Styles, Liam Payne and co. What ensues is 3D enhanced concert footage and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the boys at play or hanging out with loved ones that only fleetingly touches on the hardships faced, while ignoring any controversy.

Coming from a director of Spurlock's background that is disappointing but his documentary does entertain, right down to a cameo from Martin Scorsese.

Reviewed by Rob Carnevale

Days Of Grace (15)


Dir: Everardo Valerio Gout

With: Carlos Bardem, Paulina Gaitan

Runtime: 132 minutes

ANOTHER exercise in cinematic bewilderment, but this time the experiment irritates rather than charms.

It deals with kidnappings in Mexico City, each of them taking place during the World Cups of 2002, 2006, and 2010. As if that is not enough to be going on with, the stories are told from the perspectives of different characters, including a cop and a hostage taker.

With so much going on, the picture requires careful helming from director Everardo Valerio Gout if the audience is not to become totally lost, but he more or less leaves us to it. The only clues to the shifting time periods, for example, are clips of the football matches on television. If you are not Gary Lineker, tough.

A case of not so much too clever by half as not clever enough.

Filmhouse, September 3-5