Thursday, 7 February 2019

Critical Week: Cold shoulder

It was Liam Neeson's turn this week to bear the full brunt of self-righteous internet rage, as he told a too-candid story from his distant past, which was then wrenched horribly out of context. He wasn't racist back then; he was just stupid. He said so before telling the story in ill-chosen words as an explanation of how he could identify with the irrational urge for revenge, which he had to play in his new film Cold Pursuit. The film was screened for the press this week, an odd remake made by the original Norwegian director. It's watchable, but lacks the nuance that made the original, 2014's In Order of Disappearance, so memorable.

Asghar Farhadi got Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Ricardo Darin to headline his Spanish drama Everybody Knows, which is a bit overwrought but still finely observes human behaviour in extraordinary situations. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World wraps up the trilogy with an involving, often exhilarating adventure fans of the franchise will love. And Christopher Abbot and Mia Wasikowska star in the bonkers horror Piercing, which seems more interested in effects than creating a coherent story. But it's properly freaky.

A little further afield, Christophe Honore's personal French drama Sorry Angel is involving and moving, and bracingly honest. A pair of documentaries are notable for their willingness to embrace conflicting viewpoints: The Sunday Sessions follows a young man as he tries to eliminate his homosexuality, while The Gospel of Eureka profiles a town where a Christian pageant and a lively LGBTQ community coexist and thrive together. I also saw Desire, a collection of six shorts by Thai photographer Ohm Phanphiroj: half are evocative narrative films, while the other three are bracingly honest docs about his work and connections.

Coming up this week, we have Florence Pugh and Dwayne Johnson in Fighting With My Family, Willem Dafoe's Venice-winning/Oscar-nominated turn in At Eternity's Gate, Andrew Garfield in Under the Silver Lake, Dev Patel in The Wedding Guest and Carlos Acosta in Yuli.

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