Monday, 29 July 2013

Critical Week: How the other half lives

London critics got a chance to see one of the most anticipated films of the year: Elysium, by District 9 filmmaker Neill Blomkamp and starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. Sorry, comments are embargoed for two weeks. I'm also not allowed to talk about Jim Rash and Nat Faxon's The Way, Way Back, starring Toni Collette, Steve Carell and Allison Janney, or Roland Emmerich's White House Down, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. But there are lots of review online for both of those already. Guess what I thought.

Also screening in London this week were a handful of films that had their moments but ultimately didn't quite hold together: Brian DePalma's Love Crime remake Passion, the stylish British teen romp We Are the Freaks, the Brazilian melodramatic pastiche Prime Time Soap and Todd Verow's Maine-set gay thriller Tumbledown. On the other hand, Adam Sandler's Grown Ups 2 is aggressively unfunny and pointless.

Much better, the startlingly realistic Europa Report is a fiendishly clever approach to both sci-fi and horror that could have cult-hit value. The restored original cut of Michael Cimino's notorious1980 epic Heaven's Gate may be three and a half hours long, but this is magical filmmaking that shouldn't be missed. And finally, Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter took on iconic roles in the BBC biopic Burton and Taylor, which intriguingly limited its scope to the couple's final project acting together in 1983. Simple, but fascinating.

This coming week is bound to have as many surprises. I've got Julianne Moore in What Masie Knew, the teen-gods sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the final film in Ulrich Seidl's trilogy Paradise: Hope and the acclaimed festival film Foxfire. And I have several more review discs and online screeners calling my name as always.

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