Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Critical Week: I'm with the band

David Brent makes the jump from the BBC TV series The Office to the big screen for Life on the Road, the continuing mock-doc adventures of a man whose every word and action makes the audience squirm uncomfortably. It's sometimes funny, and has some unexpected emotion too. I caught up very late with both the DC Comics all-star supervillain action romp Suicide Squad and the Zac Efron-Adam Devine comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates - neither are very good, but they're probably just what their target audiences want. Jamie Dornan stars in the involving, creepy Hitchcockian thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax. And the must-see documentary Tickled follows a New Zealand journalist down a jaw-dropping rabbit hole as he investigates a secret society. Or maybe it's something else entirely.

I also caught two stage productions over the weekend. Groundhog Day at the Old Vic is a new musical based on the 1993 comedy movie classic, with a book by the original screenwriter Danny Rubin and songs by the genius Tim Minchin. It's visually a bit too busy, but the story is told with jaw-dropping invention and energy, a passionate, seriously gifted cast and fantastic music. It's also funny and surprising, and it carries a powerful emotional and thematic kick at the end.A much smaller production, The Past is a Tattooed Sailor is on at the Old Red Lion Theatre. It's a story of a 20-something orphan exploring his past through his great-uncle's celebrity-filled anecdotes plus a few ghosts wandering around the family's country manor. It's a bit fragmented, with lots of short, sharp scenes that rely on brainy dialog. But it's darkly fascinating and ends up thoughtfully provocative.

Among the films coming up this next week, we have screenings of Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in War Dogs, Bryan Cranston in The Infiltrator, Gemma Arterton in The Girl With All the Gifts, and the doc In Pursuit of Silence.

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