Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Critical Week: A winning couple

I'd been looking forward to seeing Andrew Haigh's new film 45 Years ever since it was announced, and even more so when lead actors Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay won the acting awards at the Berlin Film Festival (above). So it was an extra pleasure that it turns out to be my kind of film: a gentle, beautifully observed masterpiece. Rather less amazing but still entertaining: Survivor is a nicely human-scaled thriller starring Milla Jovovich as a security expert chased by Pierce Brosnan's icy killer; Gemma Bovery is a loose French comedy starring Fabrice Luchini as a bored guy in rural France whose imagination is sparked by a new English neighbour (Gemma Arterton); and the genuinely scary Belgian horror movie Cub is a scouting holiday with a nasty twist right out of a campfire story.

There were also three documentaries: That Sugar Film is a punchy, entertaining, seriously essential Super Size Me-style doc about the effects of the sugar in our diets, and it should change the way we think about food; the sensitive, eye-opening Czech doc Daniel's World is difficult to watch as it takes a bracingly honest, balanced approach to one of the biggest taboos, pedophilia; and Before the Last Curtain Falls is a lovely document about a group of seriously engaging Belgian transsexuals at the end of a triumphant stage tour. There was also a launch for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which takes place later this month. There's a very strong programme this year, and I'm sad that I won't be able to travel up to Scotland to enjoy it, but I'll cover it as much as possible from London.

I also caught up with Nightingale, an HBO movie starring David Oyelowo as an unhinged young man who kills his mother and then struggles to make a life for himself. Told through this young man's frazzled perspective, there isn't another actor on-screen, and Oyelowo is magnetic and more than a little terrifying. The film elusively swirls in all kinds of big issues, from post traumatic stress to religious fanaticism to the repression of sexuality. Written by Frederick Mensch and directed by Elliott Lester, it's the kind of movie that provokes a lot of thought, then wisely lets us work out what it means for each one of us.

This coming week, I have more horror with a screening of Insidious Chapter 3, plus the sequel/reboot blockbuster Jurassic World, the New York romance Those People, the Sao Paulo comedy Boys in Brazil, and the Vidal/Buckley doc The Best of Enemies. 

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