Thursday, 9 August 2018

Critical Week: Looking good

London critics finally had a chance to catch up with Spike Lee's Cannes prize-winning BlacKkKlansman, and it was well worth the wait. The film is a fierce, skilfully told true story with lots of present-day resonance. John David Washington (son of Denzel) is terrific in the title role. Meanwhile, the week's blockbuster was the tongue-in-cheek guilty pleasure The Meg, with Jason Statham doing what he does best, diving into the action and winking at the camera. But the latest near-future young adult adventure The Darkest Minds was a disappointment, despite a strong cast led by Amandla Stenberg and Harris Dickinson.

Outside the mainstream, we had the animated true story Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero, which is involving and very moving. Making a Killing is a wildly entertaining true crime romp, told with heavy doses of irony. Tides is a meandering, improv-style British comedy-drama set on a canal boat holiday. And The King is a staggeringly clever documentary about Elvis Presley, layered with a telling exploration of American culture today.

There were also three excellent European films. From France, The Guardians is a gorgeous drama about women who run the family farm while their men are off fighting WWI. From Germany, The Captain is a pitch-black satire about a deserter who assumes power as an officer during the final weeks of WWII. And from Iceland, the unnerving, involving Under the Tree weaves irony into a darkly witty story of a war between two neighbours.

Films screening in this coming week include Ewan McGregor in Christopher Robin, Ansel Elgort in Billionaire Boys Club, Hugo Weaving in Black '47, the British comedy The Festival, the coming-of-age drama We the Animals, the zombie apocalypse thriller Redcon-1, the German drama Paths, and the ballet documentary Nureyev.

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