Thursday, 12 January 2017

Critical Week: Say what?

I was able to catch up with the London Film Festival gem Their Finest this week, a lightly handled drama about government-sponsored filmmakers during the Blitz. With a sharp cast anchored by Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy and Sam Claflin and clever direction by Lone Scherfig, it's a telling story packed with engaging detail. Ben Affleck's Live by Night is a great-looking gangster movie, with another superb cast (including Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller and Zoe Saldana), but it's a bit too glacial to grab hold. And James McAvoy plays a man with multiple personalities in M Night Shyamalan's thriller Split. It's unnerving and sometimes full-on freaky, but rather messy.

Outside the mainstream, Bitter Harvest, a chronicle of the horrific Stalin-forced famine in the Ukraine in 1932-33, starring Max Irons, Samantha Barks and Terence Stamp. And Anna Biller's The Love Witch is a hilariously lurid 1960s-style pastiche of magic, romance and murder. Both films are clearly passion projects, and both feel rather overlong due to their choppy editing and in-your-face messages.

This coming week we have the 20-years-later sequel T2 Trainspotting, Woody Harrelson's real-time adventure Lost in London Live, the resurrected franchise XXX: Return of Xander Cage, the British/Indian drama Viceroy's House, the football icon doc Best and John Waters' long-lost Multiple Maniacs.

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