Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Critical Week: Creatures of the night

Critics who missed the latest Jim Jarmusch movie Only Lovers Left Alive at the London Film Festival in October had a chance to catch up with this enjoyably offbeat, meandering vampire drama starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston (above). It certainly was a nice contrast to more crowd-pleasing fare like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, an entertaining but run-of-the-mill spy thriller with a beefy tone and no substance at all. Even more fun, Cuban Fury is a British comedy-drama starring Nick Frost as a now-(over)grown child dancer trying to get back into the salsa groove. It has a terrific supporting cast including Olivia Colman, Rashida Jones and Chris O'Dowd.

A little further afield were two American indies: the comedy-drama G.B.F., a gay spin on Mean Girls that tries to be colourful and silly but actually has some real depth, and the prison drama Jamesy Boy, a true story that can't resist the usual watered-down cliches. Even less commercial were the overwrought, sometimes histrionic low-budget British drama Celluloid and the indulgent art-installation piece Visitors, which at least looks pretty and has a lush Philip Glass score.

This coming week is a bit thin on screenings (at the moment). The only things in the diary are the Russian epic Stalingrad, the festival head-spinner The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears and the dark British drama The Fold. But that gives us more time to obsess about Oscar and Bafta nominations, and to prepare for the 34th London Critics' Circle Film Awards on Sunday 2nd February. I'm the chair of that event, so I certainly won't have spare time on my hands.

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