Monday, 20 July 2015

Critical Week: The homecoming queen's got a gun!

It's been another eclectic week for London-based film critics. One of the more offbeat films was Barely Lethal, starring Hailee Steinfeld (above) as a teen who was raised to be a ruthless spy, then runs away to see what going to high school is like. It's a likeable pastiche of teen movies, although it oddly seems both too safe and too gun-happy. A much more anticipated family movie was a late screening of the already acclaimed new Pixar-Disney animation Inside Out, which had a gala Sunday morning screening introduced by director Pete Docter and cast members Amy Poehler and John Ratzenberger. The lovely film is both a comical adventure and a strikingly honest look at growing up. And it screens with the simply gorgeous short film Lava.

Other big-name films this week included the Ryan Reynolds thriller Self/Less, which starts well but opts to ignore its themes in lieu of a contrived action-thriller plot. And Michael Douglas hunts Jeremy Irvine in the New Mexico desert in Beyond the Reach, which is utterly preposterous but has its moments thanks to the actors and the landscapes.

A bit further afield, we had the indie mob drama 10 Cent Pistol, which is sharply made but waits too long before it lets the audience into the story; the clever, jaw-dropping reality TV romp Shooting the Warwicks, which is one of the blackest comedies you'll ever see; the floaty-whiny indie drama Buttercup Bill, which spends so much time being achingly cool that it forgets to properly tell its story; and the well-made eye-opening doc Bolshoi Babylon, which digs into the controversial workings of the world's top ballet theatre.

This coming week, we have the lean-mean Jake Gyllenhaal in a late screening of Southpaw, Tom Cruise back in action for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation,  Reese Witherspoon and Sofie Vergara in the action-comedy Hot Pursuit, Emily Blunt in the dark drama Sicario, Josh Hutcherson in the drug cartel drama Escobar: Paradise Lost, Danny Huston in the underwater thriller Pressure, and the military dog drama Max.

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