Alan Dee’s guide to the new releases

I TRY not to take against people I’ve never met, but Phyllida Lloyd now has two strikes against her name.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 6th January 2012, 5:14 am

I’m sure she’s a talented and lovely lady, but it will be a long time before I forgive her for bringing Mamma Mia! to the screen, just as it will a long while before I let Mrs Dee forget that I endured it in silence just for her.

And now she’s serving up a glossy biopic of That Woman, as my dear departed mother preferred to describe the honourable member for Finchley in her pomp.

For those who didn’t live through the Thatcher years, it must seem like a good yarn – determined woman from Middle England takes on the toffs, grabs control of the Tory party and becomes Britain’s first female prime minister before it all begins to unravel.

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Certainly there’s enough meat in the role to attract the chameleon talents of Meryl Streep – no, I haven’t forgotten she was in Mamma Mia either, thank you very much – who is being talked of as a surefire Oscar winner for her painstaking adoption of yet another unusual accent.

But if you were there, it’s not something you really want to be reminded of – even if the basket case economy, rising unemployment, fading delusions of Empire and general air of gloom seem to make The Iron Lady less of a period piece and more a current affairs lesson.

Here’s the intriguing thing, though – the advance publicity carries the precautionary note ‘contains real images of moderate violence, injury detail and brief nudity.’

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that referred to brutal handbaggings of recalcitrant cabinet ministers followed by a cleansing Psycho-style shower? No such luck...

Anyway, Streep is the boss, Jim Broadbent is amiable hubby Denis, Anthony Head puts on a few pounds to play Geoffrey Howe though he looks more like Jim Callaghan to me, and Richard E. Grant is Michael Heseltine while rising star Olivia Colman pops up as jolly hockey sticks daughter Carol. It’s a fascinating story, there’s much to admire in Streep’s performance, but for some of us it’s too early to go there...

> On the other hand, if you fancy a bit of mindless violence and crude humour head instead to Goon, in which the invariably irritating Seann William Scott toughens up for an ice hockey comedy drama that’s more Slap Shot than The Mighty Ducks.

If you’ve never come across Slap Shot, seek it out, but only if you have a strong stomach because it doesn’t pull any punches.

Here Scott is the stereotypical black sheep of a super-brainy family who discovers an untapped talent for mayhem on the ice.

The story has been penned in part by Evan Goldberg, also the words man for Superbad and Pineapple Express, so there are some laughs along the way but the real attraction is non-stop violence as Scott’s team of stragglers batters its way into the big time. Thing Dodgeball on ice, on steroids, and on licence from a maximum security jail.