Monday, 26 January 2009

Critical Week: Post-contender blues

It always happens this time of year, just as all of the year's best films are finally landing in cinemas, we film critics are subjected to some of the least notable movies of the year. February release schedules are notoriously underwhelming, as all of the biggies linger in the corners of the multiplexes while box office charts are weighed down by duds. I mean honestly: Paul Blart Mall Cop has been No 1 on the US chart for two weeks now, despite astoundingly bad reviews.

On the other hand, Slumdog Millionaire is storming up the charts in both the US and UK, as well as walking off with every major award it's up for. Here's the cast with their SAG Best Ensemble award. (Best thank you at the SAGs goes to Meryl Streep - look it up on YouTube if you missed it.)

Meanwhile, I've been watching decent but not-great WWII dramas like Tom Cruise's Valkyrie and Viggo Mortensen's Good; the jarring Irish Troubles drama Fifty Dead Men Walking; the bewildering parallel-reality thriller Franklyn; and the slightly dull 19th century period piece The Young Victoria. None of these films are bad - all are worth seeing, but they're perhaps not as satisfying as they should be. It's telling then that the best film I saw last week was the ripping 1949 crime noir Gun Crazy.

This week looks like more of the same, probably, with the Jean Claude Van Damme self-made (and self-titled) JCVD, the Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious, the horror remake The Uninvited, and the Greg Kinnear drama Flash of Genius. More interesting are Raymond Depardon's rural doc Modern Life and the live-action Japanese sci-fi fantasy manga 20th Century Boys. Here's hoping...

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