Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Critical Week: The right stuff

I caught up this week with HBO's movie All the Way, recounting how, in the wake of Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr (Bryan Cranston and Anthony Mackie, above) begrudgingly cooperated to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, standing up to opposition because it was the right thing to do. Reteaming Cranston with Trumbo director Jay Roach, the film has a bristling sense of humour that brings the situation to life. And the performances are full of punchy emotional undercurrents, from Cranston and Mackie to ace supporting players like Bradley Whitford, Melissa Leo, Frank Langella, Stephen Root, Ray Wise and Joe Morton. While the plot and themes are important and strongly relevant, the film feels oddly muted in tone, contained within rooms rather than encompassing the bigger picture. This is perhaps due to the script's stage origins, so thankfully it doesn't water down the story's powerful kick.

My only proper screening this past week was The Conjuring 2, the London-set sequel featuring real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). Like the 2013 original, the film is genuinely terrifying, even though director James Wan can't resist using every cliche available. I also caught three films in the upcoming East End Film Festival: Desire Will Set You Free is a freeform drama with documentary elements set in Berlin's sexually ambiguous club scene; Uncle Howard is a moving documentary about filmmaker Howard Brookner (Burroughs) by his nephew Aaron; and Transit Havana is a beautifully shot doc following transgendered men and women as they navigate Cuba's health care system. I'll have more on these and others when the festival kicks off on 23rd June.

Screenings this coming week include Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence, the animated adventure The Secret Life of Pets, the cat-kidnapping comedy Keanu and the acclaimed doc Notes on Blindness. I've also got several more EEFF movies to watch.

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