Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Critical Week: Take a back seat

London critics had a chance to see Anton Corbijn's new film Life this week, recounting the series of meetings between freelance photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) and actor James Dean (Dane DeHaan), just before the release of his first film. It's beautifully shot (of course) and a cleverly written exploration of pre-stardom, but despite a strong performance DeHaan is simply never James Dean. Also rather uneven, Everest tells the true story of a fateful day in 1996 when an unusually large number of people climbed the world's tallest mountain and were caught in a surprise storm. It's efficiently made and well acted, but oddly uninvolving.

My best film of the week, hands down, was Tangerine, a micro-budget American indie shot on iPhones. As it follows a couple of tranny hookers on the streets of Hollywood, it's hilarious, moving and thrilling filmmaking. Welsh treasures Rhys Ifans and Charlotte Church appear in Under Milk Wood, an experimental and eerily cold adaptation of Dylan Thomas' poetic drama. Michael Pena and Dougray Scott star in the exorcism thriller The Vatican Tapes, which is edgy and earthy but a bit slow. And the superb, unmissable He Named Me Malala is an involving documentary about feisty Pakistani teen-turned-activist Malala Yousafzai, who is inspirational simply because she is so normal.

This coming week we have Hugh Jackman in Pan, Kurt Russell in Bone Tomahawk, Agyness Dean in Sunset Song, the festival favourite The Club and Kate Dickie in Couple in a Hole. Also, press screenings for the London Film Festival start on Monday with two or three films per day. The festival itself runs 7-18 October.

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