Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Critical Week: Bump in the dark

London critics caught up this week with the freak-out sequel The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, set 40 years after the first film, so it has an all-new cast (including Jeremy Irvine and Helen McCrory) facing that eerie ghost at Eel Marsh House. Honestly, why would anyone ever go in there?

The biggest screening this week was for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the thrilling third film in the series starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks and so on. It captures the book's intensely grim tone almost too well and is also a terrific exploration of the birth of a leader, setting things up for the more battle-intensive final part, a year from now. The only other starry movie this week was Tommy Lee Jones' The Homesman, a gruelling Wild West road movie in which he stars in alongside Hilary Swank and a number of superb A-list cameo players (Meryl Streep!). It's extremely straight-faced and rather bleak, but always involving.

Further afield there were four foreign films: essentially a filmed stage play, the drama Diplomacy chronicles the touchy negotiations between German and French officers at the end of WWII, hinging on terrific performances by Andre Dussolier and Niels Arestrup; also from France, Eastern Boys is an uneven but intriguing drama about the strange relationship between a businessman and a Ukrainian working the streets for money; from Switzerland, The Circle uses documentary and drama to reconstruct the relationship between two men in a rapidly closing free society; and Snails in the Rain is a darkly thoughtful but ultimately simple Israeli drama about a young man whose girlfriend notices that something is up.

This coming week, we have the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, the Jim Carrey-Jeff Daniels sequel Dumb and Dumber To, the black comedy The Mule, the holiday comedy Home for Christmas, the Mexican drama Four Moons, the Roger Ebert doc Life Itself, and the French foreign-student doc School of Babel

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