Thursday, 20 July 2017

Critical Week: Land, sea, air and space

Two big movies this week were passion projects written and directed by top filmmakers. Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is an almost outrageously colourful outer space romp starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. It's visually fabulous, but never terribly thrilling. By contrast, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk is so viscerally inventive that it pulls us into a cleverly splintered narrative - on land, sea and air - surrounding Britain's epic 1940 evacuation across the channel. Unlike any war movie you've seen, it's perhaps the year's best film so far. And it's especially powerful on the Imax screen.

Much sillier thrills were to be had at Captain Underpants, the riotously rude animated comedy centred on a friendship between two pranksters who convince their principal that he's a superhero. Frenetic but very funny. The Vault is a heist movie with supernatural horror overtones starring James Franco and Francesca Eastwood (comments are embargoed). Killing Ground is more straightforward grisly horror from Australia about two families who face scary locals in the woods. And the 1961 British classic Victim gets a welcome reissue to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality. It's also still a great drama, with powerhouse performances from Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Syms.

Coming up this next week are Kathryn Bigelow's 1960s riots drama Detroit, Bill Nighy's Victorian whodunit The Limehouse Golem, Jada Pinkett Smith and friends on a comical Girls Trip, Gerard Butler as A Family Man, a couple of women trapped 47 Metres Down, and the festival-winning On Body and Soul.

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