Monday, 29 July 2013
Also screening in London this week were a handful of films that had their moments but ultimately didn't quite hold together: Brian DePalma's Love Crime remake Passion, the stylish British teen romp We Are the Freaks, the Brazilian melodramatic pastiche Prime Time Soap and Todd Verow's Maine-set gay thriller Tumbledown. On the other hand, Adam Sandler's Grown Ups 2 is aggressively unfunny and pointless.
Much better, the startlingly realistic Europa Report is a fiendishly clever approach to both sci-fi and horror that could have cult-hit value. The restored original cut of Michael Cimino's notorious1980 epic Heaven's Gate may be three and a half hours long, but this is magical filmmaking that shouldn't be missed. And finally, Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter took on iconic roles in the BBC biopic Burton and Taylor, which intriguingly limited its scope to the couple's final project acting together in 1983. Simple, but fascinating.
Monday, 22 July 2013
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.
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Our pulses slowed a bit for the all-star sex-addiction comedy-drama Thanks for Sharing, with Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Tim Robbins and Alecia Moore (better known as Pink); the dark drama Ain't Them Bodies Saints, with Rooney Mara and Dane DeHaan; the warm, funny and extremely telling Saudi drama Wadjda; and two docs: the straightforward biographical Hawking and an exploration of privacy-erosion in Terms and Conditions May Apply. Finally, we were jolted back out of our seats by a horror double bill: Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in the demonic possession chiller The Conjuring, and a family under siege by masked killers in You're Next.
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Other East End Film Fest titles I've caught up with include Ben Wheatley's brain-spinning 17th century Civil War odyssey A Field in England, which also opened in Britain on Friday (simultaneously released on DVD, VOD and screened on Film4). It's impossible to unpack, but is also unmissably insane. Any Day Now is a punchy drama about equality starring the superb Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt, managing to make a vitally important point without becoming an issue movie. Prospects is a loose, honest doc about two young British boxers trying to make it through the amateur system to get to the Olympics. It's superbly assembled and almost painfully involving. I also attended two world premieres: The Brightest Colours Make Grey is a low-budget London relationship drama that looks amazing on the big screen and benefits from a perhaps too-literate script. And Bruno & Earlene Go to Vegas is also gorgeously shot. It's a lively road movie that scrambles issues of sexuality for its characters. Cast and crew members were on hand from both films for Q&As.
This coming week, British critics finally get a look at Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger and Michael Bay's Pain & Gain, as well as Disney's Cars spin-off Planes, the Sundance winner Ain't Them Bodies Saints and the horror romp The Conjuring.
Thursday, 4 July 2013
Meanwhile, the 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival wrapped up over the weekend, and now I have the excitement of catching up with those films as they are released in the UK. I've managed to see one of them this week - Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring had a mixed reception at Cannes, and I can see why: it's probably a bit too timely and prescient for most critics. I found it a clever, insightful exploration of today's fame-driven youth culture.
Other films I've caught up with this week include the animated action-comedy Turbo, about a souped-up speedy snail (comments are embargoed on this one). Gerard Butler's surfing drama Chasing Mavericks is a blanded-down true story that at least features plenty of terrific surfing action. Spanish filmmaker Pablo Berger's remarkable Blancanieves will struggle to overcome comparisons to The Artist (it's also silent, black and white) and Hollywood's two takes on Snow White last year. But this is a skilfully well-told story that's essential viewing due to its gorgeous emotional resonance. Renny Harlin's The Dyatlov Pass Incident will also suffer from comparisons to The Blair Witch Project. Despite a dodgy climax, this icy thriller is actually a better film, and it's based on a fascinating true mystery from 1959 Russia (plus added present-day fiction).
The next big movies screening to London critics will be Guillermo Del Toro's alien-invasion epic Pacific Rim and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's apocalyptic pub crawl comedy The World's End.