Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Critical Week: Mommy issues

It was a busy week for UK critics, with another head-spinning collection of screenings. Robert Carlyle stars in and makes his directing debut with The Legend of Barney Thompson, an uneven black comedy costarring a scene-stealing Emma Thompson (as his mum, above) and Ray Winstone. It never quite gets the tone right. Also struggling with its tone, True Story recounts a fascinating real-life mystery starring Jonah Hill, James Franco and an almost-not-there Felicity Jones. Fascinating but too mopey to come to life properly. And Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman are terrific in Ruth & Alex (aka 5 Flights Up) as a long-married couple planning a move from their beloved Brooklyn apartment. It's engaging but slight.

I took a break from the cinema to catch A Deadly Adoption on Channel 5. Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig star in this hilariously overwrought thriller that is either a raucous spoof or just another ridiculous Lifetime movie. You be the judge. Either way, it's very funny as it follows a damaged couple hoping to save their marriage by adopting a baby from an apparently sweet young pregnant woman. But of course it all turns nasty. Full credit to Ferrell and Wiig for never winking at the camera.

Further afield, we had the Aussie animation Maya the Bee, a charming and energetic little adventure; the found-footage horror The Gallows, which should really put an end to the genre with its utter lack of originality; and the riotous 1980s slasher movie spoof Dude Bro Party Massacre III, which manages to maintain the joke perfectly right to the very end. And there were also two docs that both rely far too heavily on talking heads: Misery Loves Comedy is an intriguing all-star exploration of the life of a stand-up, while Looking for Love explores romance in London's Afro-Caribbean community with insight and lots of personality.

Coming up this week: the new Disney-Pixar hit Inside Out, Ryan Reynolds in Self/Less, Jessica Alba in Barely Lethal, Michael Douglas in Beyond the Reach, Jena Malone in 10 Cent Pistol, the American indie drama Buttercup Bill, and two docs: exploring the Russian ballet company in Bolshoi Babylon and an acclaimed profile of six teen brothers in The Wolfpack.

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