Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Critical Week: A song for Frank

London critics got a chance to catch up with this year's Sundance sensation, Lenny Abrahamson's Frank, starring Michael Fassbender wearing a giant papier-mache head. Yes, it's as offbeat and arty as it sounds, but also surprisingly warm and endearing, with terrific performances from Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy. The other big movie was Hossein Amini's subtly involving and very twisty thriller  The Two Faces of January, starring Viggo Mortensen, Kristin Dunst and Oscar Isaac, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel.

Only slightly further afield, C.O.G. is a dark, introspective drama starring Looking's Jonathan Goff as a guy trying to run from his own shadow. Khumba is an engaging, colourfully animated South African feature, with a somewhat compromised plot about a geeky zebra. Cheap Thrills is an escalating exercise in finding the audience's breaking point - a very clever, hard-to-watch black comedy. Awful Nice is an awkwardly written comedy with some telling observations. And The Punk Singer is a lively, insightful doc about feminist punk, centring on the iconic Kathleen Hanna.

The big films screening this coming week are the Marvel sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the TV show reunion Veronica Mars and the black comedy A Long Way Down. There are two Irish films - Brendan Gleeson in Calvary and Andrew Scott in The Stag; the Indonesian action-sequel The Raid 2; Chiwetel Ejiofor in Half of a Yellow Sun; the black comedy How to Be a Man; the animated adventure Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return; and something called Patema Inverted.

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