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The Dictator (The Extended Cut) (Cert 15, 93 mins) Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Sir Ben Kingsley, Adeel Akhtar, John C Reilly, Kevin Corrigan, Kathryn Hahn.

What's it about? Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is tyrannical ruler of the African state of Wadiya. During a visit to "the Devil's nest" of America to address the United Nations, Aladeen is usurped by his duplicitous brother Tamir (Sir Ben Kingsley) and cast adrift on the streets, without his trademark beard or any form of identification. Zoey (Anna Faris), the tomboyish manager of a vegan feminist non-profit co-operative, takes pity on Aladeen, who she accepts as an immigrant called Allison Burgers. Sparks of romance are continually extinguished by Aladeen's bigotry. "I love it when a woman goes to school," he sniggers to Zoey, who boasts a college education. "It's like seeing a monkey on roller skates - it seems important to them, but it's so adorable for us." Eventually, Zoey discovers the truth about Allison and the fledgling romance is tested to the limit.

Any good? The Dictator is a gleefully bad taste fish-out-of-water comedy, which kicks sand in the eye of political correctness. No subject is off limits for the scriptwriters who trample merrily over social taboos, hitting more targets than they miss as the titular despot runs amok in the capitalist playground of New York City. Larry Charles' film delights and disturbs, careening from razor sharp satire to a Monty Python-esque birthing scene, shot through the dilating cervix of an expectant mother (Kathryn Hahn). Judged on the number of belly laughs The Dictator packs into 93 minutes, and ignoring the occasional lulls, it's a rousing success.

The Angels' Share (Cert 18, 101 mins) Starring: Paul Brannigan, Gary Maitland, William Ruane, Jasmine Riggins, John Henshaw, Roger Allam.

What's it about? Robbie (Paul Brannigan) and fellow community service reprobates Albert (Gary Maitland), Rhino (William Ruane) and Mo (Jasmin Riggins) hatch a hare-brained plan to steal four bottles of the most expensive whisky in the world, rumoured to be worth PS1m at auction. The wastrels already have an eager buyer lined up - connoisseur Thaddeus (Roger Allam) - who will pay handsomely for the intoxicating nectar, which he will then sell on to his wealthy clients. All Robbie and his pals have to do is keep their illegal plan secret and avoid detection at the highland distillery, where the whisky is under 24-hour guard.

Any good? Taking its title from the 2% of alcohol that evaporates through an oak cask in the ageing process, The Angels' Share is one of director Ken Loach's most upbeat, crowd-pleasing slices of life. The emphasis in this bittersweet modern-day fable is on the sweet, so it's no surprise that the esteemed jury in Cannes awarded it their coveted prize. Loach distils excellent performances from his cast and screenwriter Paul Laverty underscores touching sentiment with raw emotion and earthy humour.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 22, 2012
Words:480
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