Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Critical Week: Eek! A mouse!

London critics caught up this week with the clever black comedy Life of Crime, based on an Elmore Leonard novel and starring Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def). It's offbeat and very funny, but not quite as hilarious as the week's biggest movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, a riotously entertaining sidestep in the Marvel universe that may be the comic studio's best film yet.

Other high-profile films this week included Dwayne Johnson and Brett Ratner's new take on Hercules, a surprisingly enjoyable adventure that's a lot smarter than it looks. One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final performances lifts the slow-burning political thriller A Most Wanted Man into something rather amazing. And random cast members from a range of the previous four films are back for Step Up: All In, another corny story punctuated by great dance numbers.

Further afield, we had the terrific small-town drama Tiger Orange, about estranged brothers who both happen to be gay. The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden is a riveting documentary about a shocking event from the early 1930s. You'll want to read more about it, and hopefully someone will make a dramatic thriller. And Al Pacino offered two movies: Salome is his film of his recent staging of the scandalous Oscar Wilde play, while Wilde Salome documents the process of doing the play and film, as well as tracing Wilde's life. The mesmerising staging of Salome is oddly stilted and over-the-top at the same time, with Jessica Chastain riveting in the title role. The doc is even more interesting, a bit padded out but packed with remarkable observations.

This coming week we'll be subjected to Sylvester Stallone and crew in The Expendables III, Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in The Rover, Nat Wolff and Selena Gomez in Behaving Badly, the indie drama 4 Minute Mile, Leo Leigh's ping pong hustler doc Fact or Fiction, the episodic architectural doc Cathedrals of Culture, Agnes B's road movie My Name is Hmmm, and Secret Cinema's immersive Back to the Future event.

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