Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Critical Week: A bit of a giggle

Well, that photo certainly isn't very indicative of Terence Davies' new film A Quiet Passion, the Emily Dickinson biopic that screened for London-based press this week (it also featured in last October's London Film Festival). A gloomy but strikingly realistic period film, it's livened up by the crisp performances of Cynthia Nixon and Jennifer Ehle, and it features lots of Dickinson's wonderfully evocative poetry, but it's pretty grim stuff. There was also a much bigger movie, Disney's remake of the 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast, which stirs live actors into the now photo-realistic animated fairy tale. It's still a hugely engaging story, and the actors and filmmakers add superb subtext, but fans of the original may find it unnecessary.

The best film of the year so far is the Oscar-nominated doc I Am Not Your Negro, which inventively reframes the race issue as the overall history of America. A stunning film, beautifully adapted from James Baldwin's words. We also had the slickly made, action-packed Korean period thriller The Age of Shadows, the grim but inventive British rural drama The Levelling, the astute and moving Chilean drama You'll Never Be Alone, and the serious-themed Italian road comedy A Little Lust.

Coming up this next week, we have Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale in The Promise, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Holland in The Lost City of Z, Dax Shepard and Michael Pena in CHiPs, and the Finnish comedy The Other Side of Hope. Also, the 31st BFI Flare kicks off on Thursday with the world premiere of the true British drama Against the Law. Look for comments on that film and lots of others in regular updates over the next two weeks.

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