Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Critical Week: Get out, girl!

London-based critics had a chance to catch a press screening of Effie Gray, the true story of a Victorian woman (Dakota Fanning) trying to get out of a sexless marriage so she can run off with a hot painter (Tom Sturridge). Written by and costarring Emma Thompson, it's refreshingly dark and female-focussed. Another bad marriage is at the centre of David Fincher's Gone Girl, although novelist Gillian Flynn's screenplay leaves no doubt who we're supposed to root for. At least both Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike give marvellously layered performances. Susan Sarandon stars in The Calling, a Fargo-style rural-cop mystery that gets surprisingly, and entertainingly, dark. And Steve Carell leads the family antics in the lively comedy Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. 

A little further afield, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are terrific as a long-time couple whose life takes a turn in the New York drama Love Is Strange; New Zealand comics Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi are hilarious in the reality-TV style vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows; and the American indie comedy-drama Believe Me takes a knowing jab at organised religion.

I also had several screenings as part of the run-up to the London Film Festival (which begins on 8th October): The Keeping Room is an American Civil War horror drama starring Brit Marling and Hailee Stainfeld; Queen & Country is John Boorman's post-war comedy-drama; The Duke of Burgundy is Peter Strickland's astounding exploration of a relationship; the drug-running thriller El Nino is Luis Tosar and Daniel Monzon's followup to Cell 211; A Girl at My Door is a cleverly unnerving Korean drama; and Bjork: Biophilia Live (codirected by Strickland) is a film of the last night in the Icelandic musician's concert tour.

This coming week we'll be watching Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, Bill Murray in St Vincent, John Cusack in Drive Hard, and Joan Allen in A Good Marriage, plus LFF screenings for Bypass, Charlie's Country, Next to Her, Wild Life, Dear White People and more...

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