Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Critical Week: Cabin fever

Things always get a bit surreal for critics this time of year, as our usual press screenings are augmented by Raindance (25 Sep-6 Oct) and press screenings for the London Film Festival (9-20 Oct)....

At 21st Raindance Film Festival: Outpost 11 (pictured) is a superbly stylised British thriller set in a parallel steampunk Cold War reality. Claustrophobic and unnerving, it's seriously inventive, and deserves a proper release. Jake Squared is a self-indulgent trawl through a filmmaker's own middle-age angst, with a terrific cast including Elias Koteas, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Virginia Madsen and Mike Vogel. But it's far too gimmicky to work. Dirtymoney is a spin on the usual London crime drama, with a much more introspective approach and a strong central performance from Anthony Welsh. And Whoops! is a pitch-black comedy about an accidental serial killer. Strong characters make up for the goofy plot.

In advance of the 57th London Film Festival (more comments to come): The festival's opening film Captain Phillips is easily one of my best of the year. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon is absolutely hilarious. The Spectacular Now is one of the most realistic teen movies we've seen. Afternoon Delight is a sharp comedy that goes to some very bleak places. Francois Ozon's Jeune & Jolie explores the very touchy topic of teen prostitution from an offbeat perspective that forces us to think. Alex Gibney's The Armstrong Lie uses the cyclist's 2009 comeback attempt to frame a detailed story of doping and deception. The British thriller Blackwood adds a clever twist to the ghost horror genre. And the Polish drama Floating Skyscrapers tackles machismo and homophobia from a startling angle.

Meanwhile: We had a very late press screening for the disappointing online-casino thriller Runner Runner, starring Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck and an underused Gemma Arterton. And I also caught up with the schlocker Sharknado before its UK release next week: funniest bad movie ever!

This coming week, I have at least two Raindance movies: the Latin drama The Critic and the British comedy Convenience. LFF screenings include Robert Redford in All Is Lost, the comedy Drinking Buddies, the British rom-com Hello Carter, the animated/live-action hybrid The Congress, Bernard Rose's SX_Tape, the French drama Stranger by the Lake and the doc Teenage. And for everyday movies, we have the Stallone-Schwarzenegger thriller Escape Plan, the horror remake We Are What We Are and the Alec Baldwin/James Toback doc Seduced & Abandoned.

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