Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Critical Week: Inter-connected

In this job, it can be frustrating watching film festivals like Venice and Toronto from afar: clearly these are the movies that will factor in at year-end, yet those of us not at the festival have to wait, and wait, wondering when we'll be able to see them so we can write about them and consider them for the awards we vote in. Clearly I was spoiled by being in Venice for the last couple of years! Anyway, we caught up with one notorious title, a Sundance film that will play at the London Film Festival next month: Assassination Nation is a full-on satire of modern teen culture, playing on social media and toxic masculinity as it heads into its horrific climax.

The rest of the week was eclectic: Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg reteam for another action thriller, Mile 22, and the film feels loud and thin, even for them. The Rider is an exquisite doc-style drama about a South Dakota rodeo cowboy grappling with a new reality. Lucky is a delicate, witty tale about a salty 90-year-old war veteran in rural Arizona, played by the wonderful then-90-year-old Harry Dean Stanton. A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. is a beautifully shot single-take romantic odyssey through nighttime Los Angeles starring Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good. And Lost Child tells a creepy story from the backwoods of the Ozarks, cleverly weaving folklore with current social issues.

A little further afield, José had its world premiere in Venice, and I got to see it in London: it's a powerful drama from Guatemala about a young gay man who finally begins to think he might be able to have a happy life. Complex and beautifully made, it won the Queer Lion. Another gay-themed drama, Sodom is a contained British drama set in Berlin about two strangers whose lives cross momentously. From Palestine, Wajib is a quietly involving look at an estranged father and son going about their family duty before a wedding. And Bisbee '17 is a strikingly original doc that explores events in the Arizona mining town a century ago.

This coming week is a little slower than usual - no idea why that might be, as there are plenty of films on the horizon that I need to see. Anyway, I'll be catching up with Willem Dafoe in Padre, Mischa Barton in The Basement, Sam Sheperd in Never Here and Rory Culkin in The Song of Sway Lake, among other things, no doubt.

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