Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Critical Week: It's raining again

The 18th Raindance Film Festival kicks off tonight in London, showcasing independent films for an audience that definitely needs to find someplace warm and dry for a few hours. For some reason the press office has limited journalists' access to films this year, so the only ones I've seen are those I saw elsewhere, including the opening night puppet-animation romp Jackboots on Whitehall (hilariously anarchic); the drama Huge, about British stand-up comedy (uneven and difficult); the surreal descent into mental dysfunction that is Ollie Kepler's Expanding Purple World (flashes of insight but ultimately a downer); the low-budget American horror romp Vacation! (a great premise completely falls apart); and the uber-grisly A Serbian Film (oddly intriguing), which is part of a special section on banned or censored films. Full reviews and a list of all the films is on the website.

Meanwhile, critics were shown two anxiously awaited biggies: the pre-teen vampire horror Let Me In and the Facebook biopic The Social Network. Even though both films are out elsewhere, British critics aren't allowed to say anything about them yet - I'll just mention that I liked one a lot better than the other.

Also screening were two horror films (the unhinged and very black Aussie comedy The Loved Ones and the much darker and creepier Irish freak-out Outcast), two small intimate movies (the British war veteran drama In Our Name and the Mexican sex-and-depression drama Leap Year), and two docs (homeless disabled musicians in the Congo in Benda Bilili! and an artful essay on economic decay in Robinson in Ruins).

This coming week we have Michael Douglas in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, George Clooney in The American, Zac Efron in Charlie St Cloud, Hilary Swank in Conviction, the Thai Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and the Hong Kong horror Dream Home. And then there's next week's film festival - the Iris Prize in Cardiff - for which I'm on the jury this year.

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