Monday, 1 April 2013

Critical Week(s): Nine years later...

The most anticipated London press screening in the past 10 days was for Richard Linklater's Before Midnight, the third visit with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy after Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. This time they're on a Greek island at the end of a holiday, and their conversation has shifted yet again with another nine-year interval. It's a marvellously funny, sometimes scary look at relationships. Two rather larger movies starred Saoirse Ronan: Andrew Niccol's The Host (based on a novel by Twilight's Stephenie Meyer) wasn't screened to the press, so I had to attend the first public screening on Friday morning to see it (with just three Twi-hards). Frankly it was pretty good, and would have benefitted hugely from press screenings and opening weekend word-of-mouth. And Ronan also led the charge in Byzantium, Neil Jordan's extremely off-beat vampire thriller, which avoids cliches to create some vivid characters. (29th March cover at right.)

We also had a double dose of Dwayne Johnson, as he rocked two action movies: G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the much more bombastic, inane sequel to the surprise critical hit The Rise of Cobra, with a largely new cast and crew. It's pretty bad. Johnson was also the focus of Snitch, a grittier thriller that required some acting, which he's clearly capable of even when things get a bit silly. And this week's final loud action blockbuster was Olympus Has Fallen, with Gerard Butler in a Bruce Willis/Die Hard role. It's actually good fun, mainly because the script is so ludicrous that you'll laugh all the way through the final act.

Four more random films: in the rude college comedy 21 & Over, Miles Teller and Skylar Astin have an adventure eerily similar to The Hangover, which is no surprise since it's written by the same writers. There are some nice touches, but more originality and fewer cheap jokes would have helped. Family Weekend is a high-concept comedy about a teen who takes her parents (Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Modine) hostage to teach them a lesson in parenting. The actors rescue it. From Britain, All Things to All Men is jarringly hard-to-follow crime thriller starring Rufus Sewell and Toby Stephens. And Audrey Tautou and Gilles Lellouche are solid in Claude Miller's remake of Therese Desqueroux, although it all leaves you a bit cold.

Coming up this next week are Matthew McConaughey's new thriller Mud, the new Almodovar airbourne romp I'm So Excited, Joel Kinnamon in the Swedish underworld remake Easy Money, and the Disney 3D documentary Chimpanzee. Yes after the busy schedule of the past two weeks, I am taking it a bit more quietly this week! (5th April cover at right.)

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