Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Critical Week(s): Brain drain

Frankly, Christopher Nolan's Inception was the only movie I was actually looking forward to this summer, and it certainly didn't disappoint. I saw it last week at a press screening and found it an exhilarating experience: a rare summer blockbuster that actually engages the brain. Then last night went to see it again at an Imax screening - and I have to say it's a film that gets even better with a second look, especially with that massive, clear image and razor-sharp sound.

Otherwise, it's been business as usual since returning from Edinburgh two weeks ago. The other biggie this month, of course, has been the third Twilight mope-fest Eclipse, which most critics have been far too kind to. Much better was the pulpy thriller Splice with more humour, better effects and proper acting from Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley. Brody also added some oomph to Predators, although the action romp kind of falls apart halfway through. And even worse was The A-Team, which should have been good fun, but wasn't.

Smaller blockbusters were more enjoyable, including The Karate Kid, a mis-titled remake that wobbles a bit in its central casting of Jaden Smith but gives Jackie Chan one of his best roles yet. New York, I Love You is the next in the Cities in Love anthology series (after Paris Je T'Aime) and has some great shorts, even if it feels a bit too homogeneous to properly represent the Big Apple. And The Switch nicely teams Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman for an offbeat rom-com.

Foreign films were a lot more challenging and lingering. Claire Denis' White Material stars the magnificent Isabelle Huppert and is predictably difficult, but well worth the effort. The biopic Gainsbourg is packed with bold filmmaking, some of which works effectively. The terrific Nouvelle Vague documentary Two in the Wave follows the relationship between Truffaut and Godard over three decades, although only true film fans can keep up with it. And the three-and-a-half hour award-winning Mexican epic Raging Sun, Raging Sky really pushes its audience to the limit, but there's some real beauty within the pretentious filmmaking.

Coming up: Cruise and Diaz in Knight and Day, cats and dogs in, well, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Mike Leigh's Another Year, Juliette Binoche in the Cannes-winning Certified Copy, Bong Joon-ho's Mother and Gruff Rhys' Separado!

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