Monday, 21 December 2009

Critical Week: King of the world

Honestly, I wasn't much looking forward to James Cameron's Avatar. The trailers and clips looked iffy, Cameron's interviews were obnoxious and 3D had never quite worked properly. But on Monday morning I enjoyed virtually every moment of the film, which has gone on to rule the world's box offices much as Titanic did 12 years ago. Not only is the fairly simplistic story thoroughly engaging, but the 3D is utterly gorgeous, concentrating on creating an immersive depth of field rather than gimmicky dizziness. And after 2 hours 42 minutes, I could have watched it all over again.

Also last week, we had Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor in the rather terrific black comedy I Love You Phillip Morris, by the writers of Bad Santa, as well as Miyazaki's latest gorgeously surreal and elusive anime Ponyo and the slightly clunky Thai basketball-meets-kickboxing thriller Fireball. I also finally caught up with three British films: the astounding, unmissable Zimbabwe doc Mugabe and the White African, which plays like a riveting thriller; the excellent doc Afghan Star, about Afghanistan's improbable and rather dangerous version of The X Factor; and the superb low-budget indie Shifty.

On Monday, the London Critics' Circle releases the nominations for its 30th Film Awards, and my only screening is a restored version of the 1949 cult classic The Queen of Spades. But I'll also be watching several discs of contenders for other awards (Trucker, Big Fan, The Stoning of Soraya M) as well as other upcoming films (Still Walking, Post Grad, Spread) over the holidays.

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