The biggest fib in The Invention of Lying is the one told by Ricky Gervais - who, as well as starring, co-wrote and co-directed - over the opening titles. This story, he intones, takes place in a world where the human race has never evolved the ability to tell a lie. Mark (Gervais) loses his job writing the historical narrations that pass for cinema in this truthful world. Needing to pay his rent, he has a brainstorm in the bank and tells the world's first whopper to convince a clerk to give him extra cash. With this power, Mark sets out to charm the dim-but-cocksure Anna (Jennifer Garner). Gervais is no actor - as always, he's David Brent redux. That's not necessarily a bad thing; the film's best moments are essentially stand-up routines as he tests the limits of his new-found ability. But as a romantic lead, he's lost. Tina Fey and Rob Lowe are thrown away in bit parts, and even a jokey insert with Gervais's old muckers Stephen Merchant and Barry from EastEnders feels out of place. The bigger problem, though, is with that central canard. The plot is so contrived it needs to tweak its own rules as it goes along, so not only does everyone have to tell the truth, they have to speak all their inner dialogue (except when they don't). They have to be incapable of comprehending an honest mistake (except when they can). And they have to be utterly shallow, dividing the world into good-looking winners and short, fat losers (except when they don't). All this semantic wriggling leaves the viewer confounded and only rarely entertained. And that's no lie.
Syria refugees settle in Zaatari with the help of a de-facto German mayor
A year ago, Syrians were desperate to leave Zaatari, now they’re choosing to return to the refugee camp and it’s largely thanks to one man, writes Sakhr Al-Makhadhi. Meet the German who’s helping Syrians build a city in the Jordanian desert
Death of a Hero: A decent man’s life spoilt by the ravages of war
Richard Aldington’s classic First World War novel, which first appeared in 1929 and has been languishing out of print for years, is being re-released by Penguin Classics to mark the Great War centenary, writes Malcolm Forbes.
Starting at Zero is a gripping read on Jimi Hendrix experiences
A richly illustrated biography of one of the world’s most influential guitarists is a gripping read, writes James McNair, despite impossible claims that it’s a ‘posthumous memoir’
Maverick Egyptian poet Ahmad Fouad Nigm was a fearless speaker of the truth
Kamal Abdel-Malek remembers his friend, the maverick Egyptian poet Ahmad Fouad Nigm, who died on December 3 at age 84.
UAE hopes to rival Hollywood film industry with Dubai Studio City
State-of-the-art sound stages and studios built in Dubai to attract movie and television projects are fully booked until mid-March, writes Tahira Yaqoob
In pictures: DIFF 2013 wraps
The Dubai Film Festival 2013 comes to a roaring and successful finish. We look back in pictures.
- Palestinian feature Omar makes the Oscars shortlist for Best Foreign Film
- A good year for obituary writers
- Disney’s wintry fairy tale Frozen, starring Kristen Bell, is out in UAE cinemas
- Welcome return: Anil Kapoor is no stranger to the lush life in Dubai
- Baz Luhrmann pitches TV series about the roots of hip-hop in NYC
- Abhishek Bachchan: I can’t emulate my father’s stardom
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