Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Critical Week(s): Contempt breeds familiarity

Hollywood is clearly stuck in a rut, but at least there's an attempt to tell the same old stories in relatively enjoyable ways. Case in point is the rom-com The Bounty Hunter, which had a few late press screenings in London last week. On paper it looks terrible, teaming two actors (Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler) whose romantic comedy track record is patchy at best. Somehow, surprisingly, this one ends up being vaguely good fun.

Much less successful is Old Dogs, starring John Travolta and Robin Williams, which tries to recapture the already dodgy vibe of the same director's 2007 laugh-free Wild Hogs, which seems like a masterpiece in comparison. At the other end of the spectrum is Drew Barrymore's directing debut Whip It, which somehow manages to turn an overfamiliar premise into a hugely enjoyable roller derby comedy starring Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden and a terrific supporting cast.

Further off the beaten path over the last week or so, Mike Judge and his strong cast managed to elicit a few chuckles in Extract, Kristin Scott Thomas wowed us with another amazing performance in French in the drama Leaving, Casey Affleck sent chills down our spines in Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me, the Chinese drama-doc 24 City left us thinking, the offbeat and rather clunky post-apocalyptic Irish film Ditching struggled to hold our interest, the artfully playful Hitchcock collage Double Take held our gaze but left us wanting something more substantial, and the strongly well-cast British art-world romp Boogie Woogie left us scratching our heads.

Coming up are the Robert Pattinson romance Remember Me, Emma Thompson's sequel Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, the acclaimed Aussie drama Beautiful Kate, the twin sister drama Beeswax, Peter Greenaway's long-awaited Nightwatching, and the buzzy How to Train Your Dragon in 3D on the Imax screen.

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