Sunday, 31 August 2008

Critical Week: Meathead alert!

Honestly, you know when Vin Diesel's name is above the title of a dystopian action movie that you're not in for something subtle or thought-provoking. Indeed, Babylon A.D. plays out like a blunt, dumbed-down version of Children of Men. The film wasn't screened at all for American critics, and there were only a couple of press screenings in the UK. Director Mathieu Kassovitz says the film is bad because the studio interferred with production and then re-edited his work. Honestly.

Other films this week were the Noel Coward adaptation Easy Virtue, with some superb performances (Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth) and also some pretty-but-empty acting (Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes). It's entertaining, but also a bit annoying. Which is how I felt about Live!, a slightly stale black satire of reality TV starring Eva Mendes as a ruthless network exec. The Warriors is a meaty historical epic from China with a trio of heavy hitters (Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro) as 19th century military leaders who take a blood oath that's strained to the breaking point. And finally, Eden Lake is a genuinely scary thriller with unnerving subtext, as a couple (Kelly Reilly and fast-rising star Michael Fassbender) is terrorised by a gang of disaffected teens.

For this coming week, I have the stoner comedy Pineapple Express, the Ewan McGregor-Michelle Williams thriller Incendiary, the past its sell-by date spoof Disaster Movie, Canadian-Indian romantic drama Partition, Wong Kar-wai's redux of his 1994 Ashes of Time, the Korean horror A Bloody Aria, and a bunch of crime movies: Al Pacino in 88 Minutes, the 3D kidnapping thriller Scar, the Cannes-winning Gomorrah from Italy, Outlanders from the UK and Jar City from Iceland.

Yes, it's a busy week, and it also includes the RocknRolla press conference, the launch event for the forthcoming Raindance Film Festival and the launch of the British Film Institute's 75th anniversary festivities. I'm tired just thinking about it.

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