Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Critical Week: Hard work

Being a film critic isn't a bad job: you get to see movies for free, after all, and people pay you to write what you think of them. On the other hand, they don't pay you that much anymore. And sometimes you have to sit all the way through something like Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, an almost unwatchable mess that really should be left to the trained professionals. Actually, it had potential to be a charming little adventure. But no.

So we turn to two sequels that have emerged as some of the best films of the year: How to Train Your Dragon 2 is even more ambitious than the superb first film, and it has the best action sequences in cinema at the moment. And Dawn of the Planet of the Apes may not be as delicately surprising as the reboot three years ago, but it's a remarkably complex thriller without a true villain. And the acting is hugely involving. But the best film this week was the Cannes hit Pride, a shameless British crowd-pleaser in the vein of Billy Elliot and The Full Monty, with terrific characters addressing a strongly resonant political issue through the true story of gay activists supporting striking miners in the Thatcher years.

Also this past week: Daniel Radcliffe brings his awkward charm to the quirky rom-com What If, costarring Zoe Kazan, Rafe Spall and Adam Driver; Nicolas Cage acts his socks off in the violent revenge thriller Rage, as a dad who wants to kill everyone for hurting his teen daughter; and Brian Cox plays the great Man Utd coach Matt Busby in Believe, a charmingly scruffy British comedy-drama that pushes the sentimentality button. There were also two docs: the fast-moving All This Mayhem traces the turbulent lives of Aussie skateboard-champion brothers Tas and Ben Pappas; and the inventive, colourful Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton tells the life story of the experimental filmmaker with a surge of emotional energy.

Coming up this week: Emma Roberts in the adaptation of James Franco's book Palo Alto, Gerard Depardieu in Abel Ferrara's controversial Welcome to New York, Disney's animated spin-off of a spin-off Planes: Fire and Rescue, the acclaimed 20,000 Days on Earth about Nick Cave, and the mystery-documentary The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden,

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