Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Critical Week: Leapin' lizards!

Yes, The Rock has leapt to the rescue of yet another franchise, taking over as muscled male lead for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, which had a lively Sunday morning press screening in London, complete with live snakes, lizards and other critters for us to handle and terrorise each other with. Snacks included croissants, blinis and toasted ants and grubworms. Yes really. Fortunately the film is preposterous fun.

Other biggies screened to us last week included Safe House, with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in a destructive chase across Cape Town; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a lively comedy-drama with Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and this year's top scene-stealer Kristin Scott Thomas (see also Bel Ami and The Woman in the Fifth); A Thousand Kisses Deep, a moody time-travel drama with Jodie Whittaker and Dougray Scott; and Babycall, a dark and possibly supernatural thriller starring Noomi Rapace as a tormented mother.

The happy surprise this week was the found-footage thriller Chronicle, which reinvents the genre the way it always should have been done: with strong characters and a great story. And I also caught up with the Oscar-nominated animation A Cat in Paris, which is unmissably brilliant. Finally we had two docs: Girl Model is a disturbing exploration of the fashion industry, while A Bigger Splash is a remastered edition of the intimate and often naked 1974 doc about iconic painter David Hockney.

This coming week's offerings include John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven, Channing Tatum in The Vow, Antonio Banderas in Black Gold, the British 3D sequel StreetDance 2, another attempt to catch the controversial Russian political doc Khodorkovsky (after a previous screening was cancelled), a filmed version of the Royal Opera House's Madam Butterfly 3D, and a restored print of Remoir's classic Le Grande Illusion.

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