Monday, 22 July 2013

Critical Week: Manly men in skirts

There were two memorable screenings in London this week, including Hammer of the Gods, the corny ancient-Britain 300/Braveheart romp, and Hugh Jackman's valiant attempt to revive the reputation of The Wolverine. Both films value chaotic action over plot or characterisation, and both also know that audiences love nothing more than gratuitous bare male torsos. Although at least Jackman himself turned up to introduce his film at the screening, eliciting crazed cheers from the crowd and laughter from director James Mangold and the screening's host Alex Zane, who couldn't get a word in edgeways.

We also had two action comedies this week: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy were a terrific double-act in the hilarious but over-violent buddy cop movie The Heat, while veterans Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich were back for more underdeveloped comical spy antics in RED 2. Much darker and more interesting, Only God Forgives stars Ryan Gosling as a hapless guy caught in a nasty spiral of revenge partly orchestrated by his mother Kristen Scott Thomas, who's on blinding form. And The Great Hip Hop Hoax documents the jaw-dropping true story of rappers Silibil n' Brains, who hit the big time when they claimed to be from California. But they were actually guys from Scotland. A terrific story.

This coming week we have Matt Damon in Neil Blomkamp's Elysium, the all-star comedy-drama The Way Way Back, the festival favourite Like Father Like Son, the Gilberto Gil doc Viramundo and Ferzan Ozpetek's A Magnificent Haunting.

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