Friday, 26 August 2016

Critical Week: Hit the road...

It's been a very busy week, screening-wise. Easily the best film, and one of my favourites of the year so far, was Kubo and the Two Strings, the animated adventure set in a mythical Japan. It's a stunning mix of stop-motion and live action, but the story and characters make it unmissable. The week's other animated offering was Seth Rogen's rude comedy Sausage Party, but the cinema had a power cut 10 minutes into the press screening, so I'll be unable to review it (some might say I had a lucky escape).

Back in live action, we had the all-star ensemble adult comedy Bad Moms, which is better than it looks. The story is silly, but the cast and script are hilarious. Anthropoid is a true story from WWII Prague told with a bracing attention to realistic detail, anchored by solid turns from Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan. Daniel Radcliffe plays a corpse in Swiss Army Man, a survivalist comedy also starring Paul Dano. It's perhap of the oddest movies of the year, but has a certain charm. Andy Samberg brings his ex-boyband sketch character to the big screen for the constantly funny pastiche doc Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. And the doc The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years takes a somewhat easy approach to the subject matter, but holds the audience with unseen footage, big personalities and great music.

But there was more! Genre films included Blair Witch, a 17-years-later sequel to the game-changing found footage hit. The rather nutty action thriller Kickboxer: Vengeance shifts Jean-Claude Van Damme to the mentor role for new Muay Thai expert Alain Moussi. The gentle British comedy ChickLit has some fun with the mummy porn phenomenon. The skilfully madeAustralian drama Downriver is deeply haunting, as is Pablo Trapero's stunning drama The Clan, about a real-life 1980s crime family in Buenos Aires. And then there's the Mexican shocker We Are the Flesh, an outrageously in-your-face post-apocalyptic freak-out. And Hell Town goes for more comical chills with its witty pastiche horror-soap TV format.

This coming week I'm heading to Italy for the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. It's my first time at the festival, and in Venice for that matter. So I'm looking forward to exploring the city as well as seeing some amazing movies. Films on the programme include new work from Denis Villeneuve, Tom Ford, Terrence Malick, Damien Chazelle, Derek Cianfrance, Wim Wenders, Pablo Larrain, Francois Ozon, Paolo Sorrentino, Antoine Fuqua and Ana Lily Amirpour. Stars expected on the red carpet include Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Alicia Vikander, Chris Pratt, Michael Fassbender, Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, Denzel Washington, Diane Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Jude Law, Mel Gibson, Keanu Reeves, JK Simmons and Dakota Fanning. Of course, I'll be covering it all right here...

No comments: