Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Critical Week: Pandaemonium

Surprisingly, one of the best films screened to London press in the past week is the animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 3, which takes the saga of reluctant hero Po to a satisfying climax with wit, action and real emotion. Other sequels this week include the visually impressive third Divergent adventure Allegiant, which reverts to explanatory dialog and essentially pointless action. And Gerard Butler's lively follow-up action romp London Has Fallen is absolutely preposterous but thinks it's edgy and real.

It was also a mixed bag for prestige dramas this week. Tom Hiddleston is superb as Hank Williams in the choppy biopic I Saw the Light. Michael Shannon reunites with Jeff Nichols for Midnight Special, a blockbuster story cleverly told as an arthouse drama. Reese Ritchie and Freida Pinto are solid in the uneven Iran-set British drama Desert Dancer. And the ambitious Italian mob drama Suburra beautifully brings its complex plot strands together.

Documentaries included a fascinating look at a corner of cinema history in Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn and the perhaps slightly too academic but harrowingly important The Brainwashing of My Dad. And I also caught up with Mexican Men, a collection of five visceral short films by Julian Hernandez and Roberto Fiesco.

Coming up this week, we have Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins, JJ Abrams' alien-attack spin-off 10 Cloverfield Lane, Russell Tovey in The Pass, Tom Sturridge in Remainder, the British gaming action thriller The Call Up, Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog and the photographer doc Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.

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