Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Critical Week: It's raining films

24th Raindance Film Festival is underway in London, wrapping up on Sunday. I always struggle to catch many of the movies at this festival, as it runs right through the press screening schedule for the London Film Festival (which runs 5-16 Oct). I was able to attend Raindance's opening night gala, including the feature Problemski Hotel (above), an involving, artful exploration of refugees in Europe, and the short The Nation Holds Its Breath, a witty Irish comedy about a young man conflicted by the fact that his first child is being born just as Ireland makes it to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 1990. There were also two ambitious low-budget sci-fi thrillers: from America, Shortwave is somewhat overcooked but very atmospheric, and from Britain, Worm is a skilful stunner about teleportation.

Aside from London Film Festival screenings (more on those next week), there have also been screenings of normal releases to catch up with. These have included Emily Blunt in the adaptation of the bestseller The Girl on the Train, an edgy emotional thriller; Tim Burton's new extravaganza Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an enjoyable but over-packed fantasy; Mel Gibson's solid return to lead acting in Blood Father, a gritty but somewhat simplistic vengeance/survival thriller; and People You May Know, a dark but hopeful drama about navigating friendship and romance.

There were also a collection of movies based on true stories: David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are excellent in the racially charged 1950s drama A United Kingdom; Luke Treadaway stars in the lightly comical exploration of homelessness and addiction in A Street Cat Named Bob; the shattering Polish drama The Innocents is about a convent recovering from the horrors of WWII.

This coming week, I have a few more Raindance movies while screenings for London seriously heat up as the festival itself gets underway. There's also the animated adventure Storks, the British comedy Burn Burn Burn, the horror thriller Train to Busan, the Spanish drama The Ways of Man, and the documentary Life, Animated.

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