Monday, 7 February 2011

Critical Week: Up in the air

The latest Kate Hudson rom-com A Little Bit of Heaven was only screened to the press a couple of days before it opened. And it still has no US release date. These two hints tell us that something might be wrong here - indeed, the film was an uneven mix of comedy and terminal illness. But at least Gael Garcia Bernal comes out of it with his dignity intact. The week's other big film was Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, which returns Martin Lawrence to his cross-dressing fat-suit role, this time along with his character's son, played by Brandon T Jackson. The studio has embargoed any comments about the film until next week.

Otherwise, the offerings were much smaller, and therefore much less predictable. Emilio Estevez's new film The Way stars his dad Martin Sheen as a man on a religious pilgrimage across northern Spain - it's sentimental, but also thoughtful and moving. Southern District, from Bolivia, has a swirling plot that's impossible to get a grip on, yet still manages to be mesmerising. From France, Antoine de Caunes' comedy-drama He's My Girl is a sequel to 1998's Man Is a Woman - a beautifully played and somewhat provocative blending of sexuality and ethnicity. And Black, also from France, is a heist thriller made in a funky Blaxploitation style that continually surprises (and entertains) us, right to the supernatural final act.

This coming week we have another very late screening: Adam Sandler's Just Go With It, costarring Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman opens on Friday. We have two British small films: the romance Forget Me Not and the Indian subculture drama Life Goes On. And then there's the doc Vidal Sassoon: The Movie. But the week's biggest event is the 31st London Critics' Circle Film Awards on Thursday, 10th February, at BFI Southbank - my one night of glamour each year. Look for a special report on Friday.

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