Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Critical Week: Up on the roof

Press screenings this past week included Spooks: The Greater Good, the first big-screen adventure for the long-running BBC TV spy series (titled MI-5 in the USA). Comments on the film are embargoed until closer to the May 8th release, but the cast includes Kit Harington (above), Jennifer Ehle, David Harewood and series actors Peter Firth, Tim McInnerny and Lara Pulver. And there were two other action movies this week: Sean Penn is The Gunman, an oddly dull and brutal Euro-thriller with the spark of a topical theme, while Jason Statham leads Wild Card, an oddly dull and brutal Vegas thriller with a jazzy undertone.

There were also four comedies: Noah Baumbach's engaging but contrived While We're Young features Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts facing the early flares of middle age; Mae Whitman is terrific in The Duff, a smartly written and played teen comedy that keeps the audience laughing; from the same producers, the perhaps too-snappy meta-comedy Playing It Cool stars Chris Evans as a screenwriter trying to write a rom-com while resisting romance; and Andrew J West leads a starry cast as Walter, a likeable young guy who thinks he's God's messenger and takes a surprisingly engaging journey back to reality.

And two superbly well-made but essentially plotless art films were a tonic to critics worn out by too-literal commercial movies: the rural British coming-of-age drama The Goob and the Colombian class-clash drama Gente de Bien are both beautifully observed studies of people grappling with life in their specific cultures.

Coming up in the next week, we have screenings of the Divergent sequel Insurgent, Liam Neeson in Run All Night, Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner, Elizabeth Moss in Listen Up Philip, James Franco in I Am Michael, sirs Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine in Stonehearst Asylum, the animated adventure Home, the Swedish drama Something Must Break and the finally uncensored 54: The Director's Cut.

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