Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Critical Week: Groovy baby

One of the more anticipated films of the year is Jimi: All Is By My Side, a biopic about Jimi Hendrix written and directed by 12 Years a Slave writer John Ridley. The film actually premiered in Toronto last year (alongside 12 Years a Slave), but it was only shown to the UK press this past week. It's bold approach is bound to get an intriguing response when it opens, and not just because the then-25 Hendrix is played by 40-year-old Andre Benjamin.

The other big-name film screened this week was A Walk Among the Tombstones, a gritty mystery thriller starring Liam Neeson an Dan Stevens (comments are embargoed for now). We also caught up with two more festival films: Mr Turner is Mike Leigh's astonishingly fresh and inventive painter biopic starring the Cannes-winner Timothy Spall, and '71 is an episodic but riveting Northern Ireland thriller that's also the latest in Jack O'Connell's full-on assault on cinema, following Starred Up and preceding Angelina Jolie's Unbroken.

With London's FrightFest coming this weekend, there have also been a few horror movies to watch. Life After Beth is a superb comical twist on the zombie genre starring Aubrey Plaza as a teen who doesn't know that she's come back from the dead. Allelulia is a chillingly involving take on the Lonely Hearts Killers from Belgian filmmaker Fabrice Du Welz starring Lola Duenas and Laurent Lucas. And Found is an unnerving and oddly moving hybrid between the coming-of-age and slasher horror genres. Finally, as part of the terrific Dennis Hopper photographic exhibition at the Royal Academy, we had a chance to catch one of his films on the big screen. So I of course chose his lesser-known The Last Movie (1971), a crazed collage set among a film crew shooting a Western in Peru. It's challenging and seriously worth a look for cinephiles.

This coming week we have a very late screening of Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Marion Cotillard in the Dardenne brothers' Two Days One Night, Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey, the British football movie United We Fall and more horror in The Mirror, among other things.

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