Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Critical Week: A dog's life

One of the quirkier press events critics face is the presentation of footage from an unfinished film. Sometimes this involves chatting with filmmakers and cast members while watching scenes that aren't quite complete, other times they show us essentially an extended trailer. Usually we don't want to see snippets and scenes before we have a chance to see the whole film, but Disney's upcoming animated adventure Big Hero 6 is rather interesting, and they lured us along with promises of a San Fransokyo breakfast (turns out that sushi is rather delicious at 10am) as well as a screening of the completed short film Feast (above), which will accompany the feature. Producer Roy Conli had so much energy that he easily whipped us into a frenzy of anticipation for the movie. The footage we saw (about 30 minutes total) was seriously impressive, and Feast is simply amazing. The film opens in November in the US and January in the UK, so who knows when UK critics will see the whole thing.

As for regular screenings, we were shown two big films just days before they opened in Britain: Magic in the Moonlight is a warm and funny rom-com from Woody Allen with Colin Firth and Emma Stone, while The Giver is yet another teen dystopia thriller with a potent cast including Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Brenton Thwaites. Kevin Costner is terrific in Draft Day, an NFL variation on Moneyball that's likely to struggle to find an audience outside America. The Babadook is a fiercely clever horror film from Australia, layering the terror with deeper meaning. Not Cool is a silly comedy that has a bit of unexpected substance. And there were two dreamy and ultimately rather cold freak-outs: The Scribbler dips into mental illness, while You and the Night touches on sex-obsession.

Press screenings are also underway for the 58th BFI London Film Festival (which runs 8-19 October). I've caught up with a few, including Jason Reitman's Men, Women and Children, Christophe Honore's Metamorphoses, the period Maori action movie The Dead Lands and a new documentary about Hockney. Comments will come during the festival.

Coming this week along with the LFF screenings: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, Dakota Fanning in Emma Thompson's Effie Gray, Susan Sarandon in The Calling, Ira Sachs' Love Is Strange, Peter Strickland's The Duke of Burgundy, Michael Bay's take on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more...

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