Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Critical Week: La dolce vita

There was a nice break from bleak drama, rude comedy and apocalyptic blockbusters this week with Noah Baumbach's wonderfully upbeat comedy Frances Ha, in which Greta Gerwig held her quirkiness in check to play a memorable character trying to get her life going in the right direction. OK, it's shot in black and white, as a clear homage to everyone from Federico Fellini to Woody Allen. But it's a sheer delight compared to the admittedly enjoyable post-apocalyptic blockbuster Oblivion, a well-made sci-fi film starring a nicely haunted Tom Cruise. Even more derivative, The Words is another nicely made film with a terrific cast (including Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and Olivia Wilde), but it's never quite original enough to come together.

Off the beaten path, we had the small but important British drama Honour, an awkwardly structured message film about honour-killings starring the always terrific Paddy Considine; the shambolic comedy Bula Quo!, which sends the members of Status Quo on a crazy adventure in Fiji about 35 years too late; Rob Zombie's witchy horror The Lords of Salem, which mixes gonzo nuttiness with inventive freak-outs and some nostalgic filmmaking, all to great effect; the indie American drama Nate & Margaret, which is kind of a light Harold & Maude, tracing a gently involving and nicely played friendship; and the oddly unsexy documentary F**k for Forest, about the global movement to save the environment through sex.

I also caught up with two collections of short films: Bafta Shorts 2013 features seven of the eight shorts nominated for this year's Baftas, including the two winners: Lynne Ramsay's Swimmer and Will Anderson's animation The Making of Longbird. And Peccadillo's collection Boys on Film 9: Youth in Trouble features eight edgy shorts dealing with sexuality issues among teens and 20-somethings, with the highlight being Benjamin Parent's essential It's Not a Cowboy Film.

This coming week we have press screenings of 2013's next blockbuster Iron Man 3, Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton leading the all-star cast of The Big Wedding, Olivier Assayas' Something in the Air, the Spanish drama The Sex of Angels (aka Angels of Sex in the US), the Russian historical drama In the Fog, and the Italian drama Shun Li and the Poet.

There are also two special events: First is the Barbican cinema's special season to tie in with the Critics' Circle's centenary celebrations, in which UK critics introduce "the film that changed my life" - which gives me a chance to catch David Gritten presenting the acclaimed 1966 war drama The Battle of Algiers. And finally, we also start press screenings for the second Sundance London Festival (25-28 April).

No comments: