Films screened to the London press this week include Maleficent, Disney's revisionist take on Sleeping Beauty starring an imperiously fabulous Angelina Jolie as the eponymous no-longer-evil fairy. The tough drama Joe features a nicely against-type performance from Nicolas Cage and another star-making turn from young Tye Sheridan (see also Mud). Last week's costars Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou are back for Chinese Puzzle, a New York-set ensemble piece costarring Cecile De France and Kelly Reilly. It's the third in Cedric Klapisch's decade-long trilogy of silly-sweet rom-coms. And Omar received a deserved Oscar nomination for its complex story about a young Palestinian freedom fighter trying to find love as his world collapses around him.
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
Sunday, 25 May 2014
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Embargoed until the UK release dates are my comments on Jon Favreau's delicious foodie comedy Chef and Jean-Paul Jenuet's stylised American road movie The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivot. Then there's Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo, another heavily stylised romp by a French filmmaker. It stars the relentlessly charming Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou in a visually manic but thematically moving romance. And Dan Fogler's kaleidoscopic comedy Don Peyote is perhaps even more trippy, with an equally surprising serious edge to it.
Monday, 19 May 2014
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon lead the strikingly detailed true-crime drama Devil's Knot, Atom Egoyan's slightly too-meticulous dramatisation of the story already documented in West of Memphis and the Paradise Lost trilogy. John Turturro and Woody Allen lead the cast of the extremely gentle comedy Fading Gigolo, which is spiced up by Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis and Sofia Vergara. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is terrific as Belle, the true story of a mixed-race woman in 18th century London, with solid support from the extraordinary Tom Wilkinson.
A bit further afield, Leo Gregory headlines the underwhelming East End crime thriller Top Dog. Dinosaur 13 is a massively involving narrative documentary about the nasty seven-year battle for the most complete T-rex fossil ever found. And I caught up with two reissued films: Wet Hot American Summer is a hilarious summer-camp spoof starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and others who went on to more accomplished comedies. And the horror-comedy Theater of Blood is a classic, unmissable romp starring Vincent Price at the peak of his powers. He's a hammy actor who takes Shakespearean-style grisly revenge against dismissive critics. Genius!
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
Further afield, the clever but slow-burning Norwegian thriller In Order of Disappearance has a bone-dry blackly comical tone as the always terrific Stellan Skarsgard inadvertently sparks a violent drugs war. A multi-national present-day adaptation of Joseph Conrad's shipboard story, Secret Sharer starts very nicely and builds a strong sense of characters and the setting, but struggles to come together in the final act. Truth is a gay romance that slips into a quietly unnerving thriller as both men lie to each other about their pasts, which adds an unnecessarily moralising tone. And Patema Inverted is a gorgeously animated and surprisingly involving Japanese adventure about teens from two societies with opposite gravitational pulls.