Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Critical Week: Everybody wants to be a star

Two high-profile press screenings in London this past week were for buzzy festival hits. Nightcrawler is the blackly comical thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as an ambitions crime-scene photographer. It's a stunner. And the crowd-pleasing St Vincent gives Bill Murray his best role ever as a grouchy old man who takes a young boy under his wing.

We also caught up with the next teen dystopia franchise launcher, the nicely made and well-acted but slightly thin thriller The Maze Runner; the wonderfully atmospheric and slightly undercooked 1970s British drama Northern Soul; the slick and unsettling drama A Good Marriage, starring Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia; and the documentary Corpus Christi: Playing With Redemption, about how the controversy surrounding the notorious play is largely misplaced.

I took it a bit easier on London Film Festival screenings this past week - just three: the searing British drama Bypass with George MacKay; the haunting American ghost story Jamie Marks Is Dead; and the Australian aboriginal drama Charlie's Country with David Gulpilil. And I got away from screening rooms for music (my first Kylie concert), theatre (a fringe comedy) and a set visit with Drew Barrymore. I was also elected vice chair of the London Film Critics' Circle, and had a power cut for 16 hours on Wednesday. Quite a week.

Films this coming week include the all-star ensemble comedy-drama This Is Where I Leave You and Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall in The Judge. As for London Film Festival, screenings in my diary over the first six days include: The Imitation Game, Rosewater, Wild, The Drop, My Old Lady, Kung Fu Jungle, The Falling, Return to Ithaca, Pasolini, The Salvation, Silent Storm, 1001 Grams, Second Chance and The Goob. Daily blog entries start on Thursday...

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