Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Critical Week: Baby you're a firework

I've only had one actual press screening in the last week - Ang Lee's new drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. It's a fascinating idea, made with a striking technical approach and a solid cast. But even they can't quite sell the rather simplistic dialog. On disc, I also caught up with the Swedish comedy-drama A Man Called Ove, a delightfully engaging story about a grumpy old man who begins to understand why he's like he is. Zero Days is another expertly assembled and deeply chilling documentary from Alex Gibney, this time about how a computer worm invaded the world and changed the nature of warfare. Another film doesn't have a UK release date, so here are my comments...

Hello, My Name Is Doris
dir Michael Showalter;
with Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly, Stephen Root, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kumail Nanjiani, Peter Gallagher, Natasha Lyonne 16/US ***

The clever premise of this comedy is somewhat undermined by its slapstick slant. Field is terrific as the retirement-age Doris, who has been caring for her mother all her life, and is only now getting her first taste of freedom, so she develops a crush on a hot new employee (Greenfield) in her office. Where this goes is warm and funny, and sometimes movingly astute. But the film is infused with corny touches, from Doris' frankly absurd clothing to her quirky bumbling. Refreshingly, she's also realistically web-savvy and open to pop musicality, which allows Field to transcend the limits of the writing and direction. And the plot has some nice surprises up its sleeve, most of all the chemistry between Field and Greenfield. And it thankfully avoids sentimentality. And it's great to see not only Field in such a meaty role, but also the fabulous Daly as her lifelong pal. Both should really be on our screens all the time.

I don't have any screenings until January 10th, but I still have several unwatched screener discs at home to catch up on, plus an endless supply of screener links, if I can cope with watching movies hiccupping and buffering along the way. There are also unwatched TV series to catch up on, as well as hopefully some non-screen time if the weather isn't too terrible.

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