Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Critical Week: It was all yellow

We had an early press screening this week of the Alan Bennett engaging comedy-drama The Lady in the Van, based on the true story of a homeless woman (Maggie Smith) who asked Bennett (Alex Jennings) if she could live in her van in his Camden driveway for a few months, and stayed for 15 years. Then there was Ed Skrein in The Transporter Refuelled, a reboot of the Jason Statham franchise that's oddly drier and cornier, and still a guilty pleasure. And the Sundance-winning Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a strikingly honest teen comedy-drama with a terrific cast and a snappy, slightly overwritten script.

A little further afield, we had the low-budget British thriller Containment, which is fiendishly clever in the way it traps a group of neighbours in a council block sealed by people in hazmat suits. Leading Lady is an awkward blend of comedy and drama from South Africa about a British actress (Katie McGrath) researching a role in the Transvaal, where she of course has a life-changing experience. And the fascinating doc How to Change the World uses extensive home movies and present-day interviews to trace the early years of Greenpeace, from a gang of Canadian hippies to a global movement.

There was also the launch event for the upcoming 58th BFI London Film Festival, with its flurry of big-name premieres and lots of smaller festival-winning movies. Press screenings for that kick off on September 21st, with the festival itself starting on October 9th. My most anticipated films include opening night's Suffragette, closing night's Steve Jobs, Todd Haynes' Carol, Jay Roach's Trumbo, Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash, Ben Wheatley's High-rise, Terence Davies' Sunset Song, and Cannes prize winners Son of Saul and Dheepan. I've already seen eight or nine of the 250 films.

I'm taking three days off around this coming weekend, so I have fewer screenings in the diary. Annoyingly, I'm missing the first two screenings of Everest, but I'll catch up with it in a week or so. What I am seeing are Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette in Miss You Already, Woody Allen's Irrational Man, the youth-dystopia sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the true Romanian drama Closer to the Moon and the British comedy Superbob.

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