Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Critical Week(s): Tis the season

Frankly nothing kicks off the year quite as satisfyingly as a silly Nicolas Cage movie, and Season of the Witch is one of his most pointlessly ridiculous films in years. It's also strangely entertaining, in a "what were they thinking?" sort of way. Much less enjoyable is the year's first real blockbuster, Seth Rogen's take on The Green Hornet, which has the distinct ill-conceived whiff of Wild Wild West about it.

Otherwise, the last few weeks were spent catching up on awards-consideration screeners like Last Train Home (a remarkable Chinese doc that made it into my top 10), Son of Babylon (a terrific Iraqi road movie), GasLand (one of the most cleverly rage-inducing docs in years), Freakonomics (the inventive anthology doc), Aftershock (China's overwrought, big-budget epic hope for this year's foreign film Oscar), and Tiny Furniture (a clever but indulgent indie comedy). I also took the chance to revisit some of my favourites from the year on DVD, including The Kids Are All Right and The King's Speech, both of which hold up - and then some - on second viewing.

Back in the screening saddle, we've had Keanu Reeves in the existential rom-com caper movie Henry's Crime, the hilariously silly animated comedy Gnomeo & Juliet, the superb drama Ballast (which wowed Sundance audiences, erm, three years ago but is only just now coming to the UK), the freaky French homage to Italian giallo cinema Amer, and the rather annoying mock-doc Midgets vs Mascots, which aimed for Borat but comes across as sub-Jackass.

Up next for critics are Ron Howard's comedy The Dilemma, the British comedy Anuvahood, the architectural doc How Much Does Your Building Weigh Mr Foster, something called Oranges and Sunshine, and one of my most-anticipated films of the year: Werner Herzog's 3D doc Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

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