Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Critical Week: A boy's best friend
Big movies screened to the press this week include the action romp Monster Trucks, which is a proper guilty pleasure with a solid cast including Luke Till (above), Jane Levy, Rob Lowe, Amy Ryan and Thomas Lennon. The dream team of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt makes Passengers thoroughly engaging as a high-concept sci-fi drama-romance-thriller hybrid. And Assassin's Creed reunites Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard but falls into the usual trap of neglecting to find a coherent plot in a videogame.
James Franco and Bryan Cranston square off in the comedy Why Him?, yet another Meet the Parents-style romp from John Hamburg. It's stupid, but funny. Gold stars Matthew McConaughey in the fascinating true story of a rather dodgy mining operation, but the film isn't easy to engage with. Will Smith is bogged down in syruppy sentiment in Collateral Beauty, which is livened up a bit by Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Michael Pena and Kate Winslet. And the indie drama Retake is an enigmatic and surprisingly moving road trip starring Tuc Watkins.
My last actual screening of the year is Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, but I have several screener discs I need to watch over the next week or so before voting in various awards (I've already voted in the London Critics' Circle Film Awards - we announced our nominations this afternoon). Discs in the pile include Hello My Name Is Doris, Touched With Fire, A Man Called Ove, Aferim!, Zero Days, Before the Flood, Kate Plays Christine and My Scientology Movie. How many will I find time to watch?