Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Critical Week: Channing takes over

Channing Tatum seems to be everywhere at the moment: being stomped on by Gina Carano in Haywire, plugging two new movies everywhere, including hosting Saturday Night Live, and trailers and photo-leaks from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike. London critics had a chance to see The Vow this past week, an over-sentimentalised romantic drama based on an intriguing true story. Producers clearly understand that Tatum's main drawing power is that he likes to be shirtless as much as possible; his hilarious Matthew McConaughey impersonation on SNL was perhaps a little too on-the-nose.

Two other big movies screened for us this week. We got to see John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, solving the mystery of his life in the gothic thriller The Raven, while Tahar Rahim and Antonio Banderas stormed the desert in the sweeping Arabic epic Black Gold. From Britain, a bunch of unknown dancers - plus Tom Conti - fused evergetic street and Latin dance steps in the 3D sequel StreetDance 2, while Stephen Graham and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje starred in Best Laid Plan, an intriguing British variation on Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

Off the beaten path were two documentaries (the controversial, unnerving Russian political doc Khodorkovsky and the gorgeously made exploration of the gaps in Indonesian society Position Among the Stars), a filmed version of the Royal Opera House's stunning stage production of Madam Butterfly 3D (I'm not particularly an opera fan, but I loved it!), and a pristinely restored print of Renoir's WWI classic Le Grande Illusion, which is quite simply unmissable.

This coming week we have Reese Witherspoon choosing between Tom Hardy and Chris Pine in This Means War, the French drama Angel & Tony, and a 3D conversion of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - watch out, Jar Jar is comin' atcha!

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