Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Critical Week: Trust no one

There were two very different action movies screened to the press this past week. Edgar Wright's Baby Driver is a whizzy thriller packed with gimmicky filmmaking touches and snappy performances from the likes of Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Eliza Gonzalez and Jon Hamm (above), plus Kevin Spacey, Lily James and others. Michael Bay's Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth in the series, is a cacophonous adventure that looks pretty awesome on Imax 3D but is a painful two and a half hours without a coherent story or characters.

Outside the mainstream, we also had a screening of Phyllida Lloyd's bracingly inventive Julius Caesar, a filmed version of her female-prison set version of Shakespeare's eerily resonant play. Scribe is a Hitchcockian thriller from Belgium starring Francois Cluzet as a man pulled into a political nightmare that seems to be actually taking place right now in the world around us. Tom of Finland is a gripping if somewhat mannered biopic about the unassuming man who completely changed the world's image of masculinity with his hyper-macho illustrations. Risk is Laura Poitras' long-in-the-works doc about Julian Assange, whose enigmatic nature infects this film. And City of Ghosts is the stunning, essential documentary about a group of brave journalists covering Daesh's destruction of their hometown Raqqa, Syria.

As the East End Film Festival continues in London, the Edinburgh Film Festival gets underway in Scotland. And this week's press screenings include the animated sequel Despicable Me 3, Ryan Reynolds in The Hitman's Bodyguard, Armie Hammer in Final Portrait, the French period drama The Death of Louis XIV, the Indian drama Hotel Salvation, and the Baltic road movie You Can't Escape Lithuania.

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