Alan Dee’s guide to this week’s new releases

THERE’S no doubt the biopic is the flavour of the month in Hollywood, with recent true-life tales including The Iron Lady and, if you think about it, The King’s Speech.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th January 2012, 4:57 am

And we return to the years before the war with Clint Eastwood as he points his camera at the life and times of FBI bigshot J. Edgar Hoover.

The J. Edgar of the title is Leonardo Di Caprio, well used to slipping into period clothes in the likes of The Aviator, and he puts in a good shift as the complicated crimefighter.

Clint’s films are always worth a look, but anyone who knows anything about what a thoroughly nasty and mixed-up piece of work Hoover was will be left waiting in vain for this movie to dish the dirt on a blackmailing megalomaniac with a distinctly odd personal life.

There’s talk of Di Caprio being lined up for an Oscar but the story is too shallow considering the material available, the time sequence too confusing and it’s just too long to make this a satisfying watch.

After the odd and underwhelming Hereafter last time out, could it be that the eminent Eastwood is losing his touch?

> The week’s other biopic offering is one of those ‘worth going just to see whether’s it’s as bad as people say’ numbers, Madonna’s widely walloped tale of Windsor woe.

The W.E here is Wallis Simpson, and Madge shows what she learned about directing from her years married to Guy Ritchie as she tells the story of the Abdication crisis from the side of ‘that woman’.

James D’Arcy is the popular but unpalatable king in waiting, Andrea Riseborough the divorcee he decides is worth chucking up the throne for, and there’s a pointless modern dimension to the tale with Abbie Cornish, stuck in a privileged but unhappy marriage, leafing through the past and plucking up the courage to make changes.

According to the blurb the film reveals universal truths about the search for love and happiness.

Most critics prefer to agree that it reveals that Madonna should never have been trusted with a camera and the cash.

> Steven Soderbergh mixes up mainstream thrillers and artier projects, and Haywire falls into the first camp.

Mixed martial arts mistress Gina Carano is the hottie hitwoman looking to get her own back on those who betrayed her, and the cast includes Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton. Loud, silly, but a workmanlike diversion.

> Make it stop! Underworld: Awakening is a short, sharp 3D slash of vampire battles with Kate Beckinsale at the centre of the action.

This is number four in a series that continues to earn its keep without ever being very popular beyond its hard core fanbase.

Lots of special effects, of course, but very little to love.