The week's new films reviewed and rated

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The pug-faced green ogre returns, Claire Denis turns her camera to war and Romain Duris confirms his star power

Now that England are out of the World Cup it’s high time to get the blockbuster season back on track. And what better way to do so than with the fourth (and, we’re promised, final) instalment in the lumbering but reliable ‘Shrek’ franchise. This time, the ogre goes sci-fi with a parallel-universe story exploring what might have happened if Shrek had lived his life differently.

A pair of excellent, high-profile French releases compete for the arthouse crown this week: ‘White Material’ sees directorial doyenne Claire Denis on top form with a tale of racial tension in modern-day Africa, while ‘Heartbreaker’ is a smooth, sophisticated romcom pairing Vanessa Paradis with ‘Beat That My Heart Skipped’ bit-o’-rough, Romain Duris.

Elsewhere, a number of independently produced films struggle to make much impact: ‘Lymelife’ is an American indie riffing a little too bluntly on themes established by ‘The Ice Storm,’ while ‘The Ballroom’ is an overly sweet Brazilian concoction detailing the lives and loves of a gang of samba-dancing old folks. Britain comes off a little better in the small-scale stakes: while oddball drama ‘Skeletons’ can’t quite justify its claim on the Best British Film prize at this year’s Edinburgh festival, zero-budget vigilante comedy ‘Crimefighters’ is a disarmingly loveable DIY effort.

A pair of documentaries rounds things off: ‘When You’re Strange’ sees Johnny Depp narrating the debauched tale of preening ’60s popsnakes The Doors, while ‘Gay Sex in the ’70s’ takes a long, hard look at a decade which brought remarkable changes in the gay community.

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Anna Smith on 'Shrek Forever After'

‘An entertaining conclusion to the franchise.’
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Dave Calhoun on 'White Material'

‘Claire Denis returns to Africa for a mesmerising portrait of civil war and racial tension.’
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Anna Smith on 'Heartbreaker'

‘An accessible comedy that outstrips its similarly conceived US counterparts.’
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Tom Huddleston on 'Lymelife'

‘Alec Baldwin takes the production reins and showiest role in this heartfelt family drama.’
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David Jenkins on 'The Ballroom'

‘Last of the Samba Wine’
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Dave Calhoun on 'Skeletons'

‘A leftfield comedy of the mundane with a sci-fi edge.’
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Tom Huddleston on 'Crimefighters'

‘What it lacks in art it more than makes up for in heart.’
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Derek Adams on 'When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors'

‘You can’t deny the enigmatic anti-authoritarian Lizard King cut a charismatic swagger.’
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Paul Burston on 'Gay Sex in the 70s'

‘This was the decade when gay sexuality came out of the closet.’

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