Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Critical Week: For the boys

One of the most enjoyable films screened to London critics this past week was the Aussie crowd-pleaser The Sapphires, anchored by a terrific performance from Chris O'Dowd. It's the true story of a quartet of aboriginal singers who sing for the troops in Vietnam in 1968, and it's shot and played with a lot of infectious energy. We also had a musical drama from America, the less enjoyable but still watchable Sparkle, featuring the last film role for Whitney Houston. And a lively audience of critics on Friday night laughed all the way through Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis' The Campaign, even though it loses its satirical edge along the way.

With press screenings underway for the London Film Festival (10-21 Oct) and the Raindance Festival (26 Sep-7 Oct) in full flow, the screening schedule is busier than normal. Other mainstream titles included Mike Newell's new version of Dickens' Great Expectations, Liam Neeson's return to the action-revenge genre in the preposterous Taken 2, the energetic and engaging animated monster romp Hotel Transylvania, and Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg in the nicely observed relationship comedy-drama Celeste & Jesse Forever.

Further off the beaten path were the British independent dramas Shell, an atmospheric film set in the Highlands, and Love Tomorrow, a downbeat London romance. There was also the cheesily low-budget American thriller Into the Lion's Den, the provocative and controversial Cannes-winning Danish drama The Hunt, and Poland's gritty and rather insular true rap-group drama You Are God.

This coming week we have the Irish musical drama Good Vibrations, the British wedding comedy The Knot, Stephen Dorff in Zaytoun, the acclaimed Swiss drama Sister, the horror film Excision, the indie drama Laurentie, clown horror in Stitches, the French animation Ernest & Celestine, and the documentaries Everything or Nothing (about James Bond) and West of Memphis (about a miscarriage of justice). Among other things...

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