Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Critical Week: Sleepless in Seattle

In the absence of UK press screenings, critics had to actually buy tickets (shock horror!) to see Fifty Shades of Grey on Friday morning with the superfans. Surprisingly, the film isn't that bad, and works as a rather well-made guilty pleasure. It's made a box office fortune, but earlier reviews might have broadened the audience even further.

Big movies screened this past week include the all-star British sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, reuniting the likes of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy plus Richard Gere and Tamsin Grieg (comments are embargoed). Will Smith and Margot Robbie star in the conman romp Focus, which uneasily mixes a heist thriller with a rom-com. Chris Hemsworth plays a hacker in the cyberthriller Blackhat, another awkward mix of mystery drama and romance.

A little further afield, the fan doc Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of is engaging without scratching the surface; Francois Ozon's The New Girlfriend is utterly magical filmmaking with amazing performances and some complex, important things to say; the low-budget The Last Straight Man is an astute two-hander exploring male friendships and relationships and the blurred line of sexuality; Dreamcatcher is an award-winning doc that can't help but inspire us to reach out to our community; Kissing Darkness is a corny gay comedy-horror about vampires in the woods; and Global Warming is a collection of four provocative comedy-drama shorts by Reid Waterer - two are very good, two are just ok.

This coming week's screenings include Celine Sciamma's award-winning Girlhood, Jeremy Renner in Kill the Messenger, the animated hit The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water, Kodi Smit-McPhee in All the Wilderness, Julia Stiles in Out of the Dark, Sion Sono's Tokyo Tribe and the Brazilian drama Futuro Beach.

And I'll be watching the Oscars live all night Sunday night - best picture is usually announced just as the sun is coming up on Monday morning in London.

By the way, the blog passed 100,000 hits this week.

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