Thursday, 14 September 2017

Critical Week: Smile for the camera

This week was supposed to be a quiet pause to regain my breath after the Venice Film Festival and to get ready for the London Film Festival - press screenings start on Monday in advance of the festival itself (4-15 Oct). But it hasn't worked out like that. This was a busy week too! Screenings included the new Armando Ianucci film The Death of Stalin, a hilariously pointed political comedy set in 1953 Moscow with an ace cast of scene-stealers including Jason Isaacs, Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin and Jeffrey Tambor (pictured above with others).

Annette Bening and Jamie Bell are excellent in the skilfully made British comedy-drama Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, based on a memoir about the final years of Oscar-winning screen siren Gloria Grahame. Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts shine in the gripping and sometimes a bit murky The Glass Castle, based on a memoir about growing up with anti-establishment parents.

Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf take on the title roles in Borg vs McEnroe, a lively, beautifully observed biopic about the iconic tennis rivalry, set during the 1980 Wimbledon final. Robert Pattinson plays a low-life criminal loser in Good Time, a luridly stylish all-night odyssey that stretches credibility but holds the interest. And an ensemble of solid British actors features in Brakes, a multi-strand improvised movie about break-ups that's scruffy and funny.

In the diary for this next week is a mix of festival and mainstream films: Reese Witherspoon in Home Again,Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name, Lola Kirke and Zoe Kravitz in Gemini, the horror thriller The Ritual, Russian marital drama Loveless, Japanese action movie Blade of the Immortal, Zambian drama I Am Not a Witch,arthouse thriller Let the Corpses Tan and Afghan filmmaker doc The Prince of Nothingwood.

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