Monday, 4 March 2013

Critical Week: Into the woods

The most anticipated press screening this past week was The Place Beyond the Pines, a moody three-part drama starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper that's beautifully filmed and acted. It certainly leaves us with more to think about than the colourful Disney adventure Oz the Great and Powerful, which has fantastic 3D and a strong cast led by James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis, but feels both too family friendly and over-reliant on digital flashiness. We also caught up with Fire With Fire, a contrived but watchable thriller with Bruce Willis and Josh Duhamel; the lushly photographed French double-biopic Renoir, an intriguing film about both the painter father and filmmaker son; and the Icelandic true-life adventure The Deep, an astonishing story of survival that's intriguingly (and slightly dully) told without any manipulative moviemaking.

I also continued to preview films from the upcoming 27th BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (14-24 March). There was more James Franco - both on-screen and as codirector this time - with the seriously clever arthouse oddity Interior. Leather Bar., recreating 40 censored minutes from Al Pacino's 1980 thriller Cruising; rising stars Juno Temple and Riley Keough in the mopey romance Jack & Diane; the powerfully moving Iranian drama Facing Mirrors (my best of the fest so far); the provocative, intense Israeli drama Out in the Dark; the engaging, startlingly honest retiree documentary Les Invisibles; an eye-opening doc about female-to-male transexual pornstar Mr Angel; the artful Swedish kaleidoscopic doc She Male Snails; and the intensely powerful activism doc United in Anger.

This coming week, I've got still more James Franco in the crime comedy Spring Breakers, Steve Coogan in the Soho property tycoon biopic The Look of Love, Steve Carell as The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, the animated prehistoric comedy-adventure The Croods and the Spanish drama The Sex of the Angels.

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