Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Critical Week: Metal-on-metal

Having opted to take a holiday the last week of June, I missed key press screenings of two July blockbuster sequels. But I caught up with them this week. Transformers: Age of Extinction is yet another loud and incoherent robot fighting extravaganza from Michael Bay - just as ludicrous as the previous films while wasting an all-new cast including Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and acclaimed rising star Jack Reynor, plus this episode's requisite scantily clad female Nicola Peltz. Fortunately, I cleansed the memory of that movie from my system with How to Train Your Dragon 2, a strong film in its own right with a startlingly complex script, unusually detailed animation and the most thrilling movie action sequences we've seen all year.

Also this week, I caught up with Philip Seymour Hoffman's intriguing but relatively thin Philadelphia drama God's Pocket; Michael Caine in the engaging but somewhat lightweight French drama Mr Morgan's Last Love; the rather too-repressed but sharply well-made period drama A Promise, starring Rebecca Hall and Alan Rickman; the moving and visceral American indie Hide Your Smiling Faces; the extremely well-observed Danish mystery thriller Keeper of Lost Causes; and the blackly comical Spanish zombie-soccer thriller Goal of the Dead, which actually has its moments. There were also two artful but deeply pretentious epics: from Mexico, Julian Hernandez's I Am Happiness on Earth is a sensual exploration of physical connections. And with Norte, the End of History, gifted Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz takes an unnecessary four hours to tell a darkly involving story about crime and unjust punishment. I also managed to revisit Bob Fosse's classic 1972 film version of Cabaret, starring a particularly fabulous Oscar-winning Liza Minnelli.

This coming week, we have the Daniel Radcliffe rom-com What If, the acclaimed British feel-good drama Pride, the British football drama Believe, the Britain's Got Talent-inspired Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, and the Aussie skateboarding movie All This Mayhem, among other things.

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