Monday, 4 January 2010

Critical Week(s): Divas and drivers

The highlight of my holiday movie-watching schedule was finally catching up with Grey Gardens - both the Maysles' astounding 1975 documentary and the 2009 tele-movie starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as recluses living in the Hamptons. Both films are utterly gorgeous, but the masterpiece is the doc, of course.

Meanwhile, I also watched a bizarrely eclectic collection of year-end movies ranging from the harrowing (Shohreh Agdashloo in the Iranian drama The Stoning of Soraya M.) to the ridiculous (the corny comedy Post Grad), the vacuous (Ashton Kutcher in David Mackenzie's Spread) to the glamorous (the fashion doc Valentino: The Last Emperor).

Highlights were Michelle Monaghan's warmly edgy performance in the straightforward drama Trucker and the far-from-mainstream Romanian cop drama Police, Adjective. I also thoroughly enjoyed Robert Siegel's Big Fan, featuring a fantastic turn from Patton Oswalt; the slow-burning Japanese drama Still Walking; and the digital restoration of the 1949 horror classic The Queen of Spades. And I revisited two favourites from last year: Up in the Air and Avatar, both of which I could happily watch yet again.

This week sees the next in the hopefully dwindling vampire genre, the Spierig Brothers' Daybreakers; the British sports drama Freestyle; and the Aussie award-winner Samson & Delilah.

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