Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Critical Week: The silence of the lambs

Well, it's that time of year: school holidays are coming, so adult critics are made to sit through screenings packed with sugar-infused children. Best of the lot this past week was the Shaun the Sheep Movie, an utterly charming silent stop-motion adventure based on the Wallace & Gromit spin-off TV series. We also had the sequel Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and the musical remake Annie, both of which have their moments but never quite become anything special.

We also caught up with awards contenders including the sensitive drama Still Alice, featuring a staggering performance from Julianne Moore (she's almost certain to win the Oscar) as a woman with early onset Alzheimer's. And two documentaries managed to scoop nominations in the London Critics' Circle Film Awards, the event I chair which announced its nominees today: Citizenfour is the important and gripping story of Edward Snowden, while Manakamana observes life in Nepal with an unblinking eye and a witty smirk. And Wild Tales is Argentina's entry for the foreign-language Oscar, a nerve-rattling black-comedy anthology with six stories of people who stop playing nice.

And then there was Ridley Scott's ambitious Exodus: Gods and Kings, which retells the Ten Commandments story with less emotional resonance but much more impressive visuals. Dumb and Dumber To reunites Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels 20 years later for even more idiotic mayhem, if that's possible (surprisingly, it is). And Wasp is a very clever low-budget British drama about three people on rather overcrowded romantic holiday in the South of France.

Screenings will slow down now for the holidays, but I have several discs to watch - I definitely want to catch up with the only film nominated for a Critics' Circle award that I haven't yet seen: Hitchcock's lost WWII documentary Night Will Fall. And I also have a screening of the Simon Pegg rom-com Man Up. But my main job is to prepare those year-end best and worst lists ... watch this space!

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