Bonus extra pic, with @maysamoncao and @ruhulabdin
Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Thursday, 17 August 2017
It's been one of my most eclectic weeks of the year as far as screenings go. And actually, most of these films were watched at home on screening links. The biggest film was the comedy romp Rough Night, starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman on her hen night with a group of friends, having a Hangover-style adventure. It's sharp and nutty and not remotely original. And then there was this year's sequel Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, another cameo-packed barrage of inane action led by Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. Surprisingly, a new screenwriter has breathed some wit into this idiotic franchise.
More highbrow fare included Sally Potter's stylised The Party, a jagged black comedy with political edges and scene-stealing performances from Kristin Scott Thomas and Patricia Clarkson. Moon Dogs is a smart and endearing Scottish road movie about three misfits travelling from Shetland to Glasgow for darkly resonant reasons. Alex Barrett's London Symphony is an exquisite ode to the city with original music and black and white footage beautifully assembled to catch detail rather than the obvious sites. And The Daydreamer's Notebook is a moody collection of short films by Michael Saul, all of which centre rather pretentiously on light filtering through trees, but there's also a superb sense of nostalgia running through them.
Coming up this week, I'll be seeing Tom Cruise in American Made, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver in Logan Lucky, Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart in The Wilde Wedding, Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen in Wind River and the body-swap comedy Unleashed.
Thursday, 10 August 2017
More mainstream fare included Charlize Theron in the rather mindless action thriller Atomic Blonde, which is skilfully made but could have used either a more coherent plot, stronger characters or just a lot more silliness. Mark Strong and Jamie Bell anchor 6 Days, a forensic recreation of the Iranian embassy siege in London that's fascinating as it builds to a ripping final act, but never quite cracks the surface. Everything, Everything is a sappy teen romance that plays out pretty much as expected, but is elevated by actors Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson. And Goon: The Last of the Enforcers is a sequel to the surprise comedy hit starring Sean William Scott as hockey player in Canada. Despite a terrific supporting cast, this follow-up completely misses the mark.
Perhaps the biggest movie this week was Al Gore's follow-up An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which traces the decade since his Oscar-winning climate change documentary. It's very well put together, and lucidly highlights the issues, but the biggest surprise is that it has a lot of positive things to say about what people and nations are doing to show respect to the planet and give hope for future generations.
Among other things, this coming week's press screenings include Idris Elba in The Dark Tower, Scarlett Johansson in Rough Night, Sally Potter's festival hit The Party, the coming-of-age British road trip Moon Dogs, and this year's episode, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
Further afield, the effectively creepy Irish thriller Pilgrimage is given some oomph with the casting of Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal and Richard Armitage in its grisly 13th century tale of religious fervour. From Hungary, On Body and Soul is the involving, offbeat Berlin-winning romantic drama about a one-armed businessman and an obsessive-compulsive quality-control scientist. InSyriated explores a claustrophobic situation in Damascus in the style of a real-life horror movie we can't help but resonate with. Kept Boy is a rather awkward black comedy about a strained gay relationship. And I watched two documentaries to discuss on a TV chat show: Get Me Roger Stone is a chilling profile of the man who essentially created every Republican president from Nixon onwards (it's reviewed on the site), and then there's this one...
Warriors From the North
dir Nasib Farah, Soeren Steen Jespersen; with The Shadow, Abukar Nuur, Nasib Farah, Abdi Aziz, Mohamed Ali Omar, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed
This haunting, rather grim hour-long documentary skilfully avoids sensationalism as it explores the incendiary issue of young immigrants in Europe who are caught up in radicalisation. It's framed as the story of a young man who travelled to Somalia from Copenhagen, leaving his friend and father (Nuur) looking for him, which makes the film startlingly personal. The friend calls himself "The Shadow", and vividly describes how it feels to be an aimless youth drawn into the brotherhood of al-Shabab. His narration provides an angle we rarely hear behind the shouty, fear-based headlines. The filmmakers include horrific footage of bombings, as well as training films and suicide videos, plus another telling account from a British man (Omar) who went to Somalia but left al-Shabab when he saw that they were more interested in killing civilians than soldiers. The film is beautifully shot and edited, and taps vividly into the vulnerabilities of young migrants who are marginalised in society and singled out by police, making them easily manipulated into believing that their religion condones murder, which it doesn't.
Coming up this week, we have Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, Jamie Bell in 6 Days, the hockey-antics sequel Goon: Last of the Enforcers, the Tel Aviv drama In Between and the musical odyssey London Symphony.
Sunday, 30 July 2017
Thursday, 27 July 2017
Slightly outside the mainstream, we had the conceptual underwater horror of 47 Metres Down, which nerve-wrackingly traps two young women at the bottom of the sea surrounded by sharks; Gerard Butler trying to emote in the rather painfully obvious work-life balance drama A Family Man; Michael Winterbottom struggling to find a balance between documentary and fiction in the band tour movie On the Road (Wolf Alice fans should love it); and a sensitive doc tracing a likeable young musician's gender transition in Real Boy.
Coming up this week are the animated comedy The Emoji Movie, Tom Holland in Pilgrimage, Toni Collette in Fun Mom Dinner, Francois Ozon's L'Amant Double, Sundance hit Beach Rats, Berlin winner On Body and Soul, the dark comedy Kept Boy, and the tense drama Insyriated.
Thursday, 20 July 2017
Much sillier thrills were to be had at Captain Underpants, the riotously rude animated comedy centred on a friendship between two pranksters who convince their principal that he's a superhero. Frenetic but very funny. The Vault is a heist movie with supernatural horror overtones starring James Franco and Francesca Eastwood (comments are embargoed). Killing Ground is more straightforward grisly horror from Australia about two families who face scary locals in the woods. And the 1961 British classic Victim gets a welcome reissue to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality. It's also still a great drama, with powerhouse performances from Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Syms.
Coming up this next week are Kathryn Bigelow's 1960s riots drama Detroit, Bill Nighy's Victorian whodunit The Limehouse Golem, Jada Pinkett Smith and friends on a comical Girls Trip, Gerard Butler as A Family Man, a couple of women trapped 47 Metres Down, and the festival-winning On Body and Soul.