Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Critical Week: Hostile workplace

Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell get the chance to shamelessly chomp on the scenery as the eponymous Horrible Bosses, this week's big movie screened to UK critics. It's a lot of fun to watch, even if it reflects that calculated Hollywood filmmaking style in which the script is more an exercise in assembly-line marketing (hapless heroes, periodic gross-out gags, big-name cameos, Aniston as a sexual predator) than an actual story. The same can also be said for the Americanisation of The Smurfs, a 3D romp made from a by-the-numbers script. But at least there are some flashes of real wit in both films.

Much more interesting were two grisly thrillers: Ben Wheatley's genre-busting dramatic horror film Kill List and, to a lesser extent, the Butcher Brothers' grotesque horror sci-fi romp The Violent Kind both have the ability to continually catch us off guard, which doesn't happen nearly enough to a jaded film critic. And three other smaller films show considerable talent on a micro-budget: Sundance parallel-world winner Another Earth, the London relationship/crime drama Turnout and the extremely low-key 1970s-set Chilean thriller Post Mortem. All three have style and skill to burn, including excellent casts and offbeat approaches to narrative, even if each of them feels a little pretentious.

This coming week we have the football doc The Referees, the experimental Alaskan film The Nine Muses and two indie gay rom-coms: Weekend and Finding Me: Truth. There are also a couple of biggies, with Chris Evans as Captain America: The First Avenger and Jim Carrey starring in the kiddie romp Mr Popper's Penguins. I can't quite decide whether I'm looking forward to either of those, but I think I'm beginning to feel harassed at the office.

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