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Zack and Miri Make A Porno

Paraphrasing a famous Monty Python sketch, Kevin Smith isn’t a director, he’s just a very naughty boy.  Occasionally venturing into mature film-making, his films have generally been imbedded with lashings of saucy humour.  Almost mimicking the Carry On movies in terms of bawdy antics, his back catalogue has at least attempted to pour some genuine soul into their stories.  His latest however should appeal to those who twittered at the many adult moments that made the likes of Barbara Windsor famous.
Unable to pay their many utility bills, flatmates and lifelong friends Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are in dire straights.  Desperate for cash a chance encounter with a gay porn star at their school reunion gives them an idea.  Seeing the cashcow porn movies have become, they decide to make one of their own with the help of a ragtag bunch of misfits.  Whilst filming they unexpectedly discover their love for each other, with their platonic relationship suddenly reaching a new level that no amount of sexy frolics can disguise.
Despite the smorgasbord of nudity on display Zack and Miri is a surprisingly chaste film.  Examining how sex can change friendships, their blossoming romance has an authentic realism due to the main leads.  It’s interesting to note that throughout Smith’s career, he’s tried to present topical comedy anyone can identify with.  Although not everyone necessarily stars in their own skin flick, the ideal of grasping opportunities and furthering ambitions is a common social trend. The salient observation of using porn as a means to an end also shows why this often shunned industry has a level of true honesty that Hollywood only imagines it has.
Amongst the gross out gags, of which there are many, there are laughs to be had in Smith’s usual style.  People easily shocked by foul language and exposed flesh should avoid proceedings as there are lots of both gleefully on display.  Like several in the gross out genre some of the jokes are very hit and miss, although the story’s central conceit always remains.  Any film dealing with porn can’t seem to help but have a certain sleazy atmosphere even if some of the cast remain clothed.  That Smith ensures we laugh with and not at his characters in spite of this is a credit to his directorial skills.
Zack and Miri Make A Porno is a very acquired taste, although if you run with it you receive Smith’s most romantic film.  Everyone appears to have fun with the lewd frolics and in any film claiming the title of comedy that’s always a major bonus.
Rating out of 10:  7 

The International

Bankers appear to be this year’s villains of choice.  Long bearing the scorn of customers worldwide, current events have put their reputations further into society’s black ledger.  The International does nothing to help their sullied status, with its financial conspirators dealing in the most ghastly of human deeds.
Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) is an analytical thinker determined to fight injustices.  His latest target is the IBBC, one of the world’s largest banks.  Discovering a cavalcade of nefarious activities including arms deals and money laundering, he is aided in his quest by New York District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts). Travelling the globe in a bid to destroy their tentacles of power, the duo finds that money and murder can be mutually deadly currencies.
Occasionally it helps to have a healthy suspicion about movies featuring a litany of foreign locales.  Whilst The International boasts some magnificent scenery, it eventually becomes clear these become window dressing for a rather circumspect script.  The ingredients are set for an exciting tale which, more or less, are mostly realised.  What perhaps unsticks much needed punch is the many exposition scenes talking through the action rather than partaking in it.  For a film promising, and indeed showing, the world it ultimately fails to fully deliver in amongst the many moments of men in suits casually planning its domination.
When the film works however it works beautifully.  The actual story itself is very intriguing with the might of the bank against two humble agents making for mostly compelling viewing.  The major set-piece featuring a battle in a New York museum is stunning in its execution, showing that with better blending of action/character scenes, proceedings could have been more memorable.  Clive Owen and Naomi Watts are quite good in their roles, although Owen’s constant scowling at the camera is no compensation for genuine character development.
It’s a brave film that tries to discard the usual thriller elements in favour of something more thoughtful.  Almost a success in that regard, had it bitten a little more from action convention, its themes of monetary manipulation may have better transcended the formula the screenplay seemed to demand. 
Rating out of 10:  6