Monday, 23 June 2014
We also caught up with the British indie Love Me Till Monday, a charming and somewhat thin romantic comedy that's mainly notable for its clever refusal to indulge in any formulaic rom-com plotting. And there were also two docs: Children 404 is an eye-opening look at children in Russia who identify themselves with the LGBT community and hate the way their government is sidelining them while making it acceptable to be targets of homophobic hatred (it's the closing film at the Open City Docs Fest). And The Final Member documents the world's only penis museum, which is located in northern Iceland, and its founder's tenacious attempt to complete his collection of mammals with a human specimen. It's dryly hilarious and rather telling too.
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
We also saw Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys at a screening introduced by a few Four Seasons numbers from the West End stage show cast, including a couple of the film's stars. The movie is a bit too gritty and dry to really take off, but the songs are great. Meanwhile, Kevin Costner gives a wonderfully wheezy performance as a washed-up CIA hitman in 3 Days to Kill, which turns into a marvellously silly Taken-style thriller just as he's finally bonding with teen daughter Hailee Steinfeld. A nice guilty pleasure.
Further afield, the British horror-thriller Keeping Rosy stars the excellent Maxine Peake as a woman who does something unthinkable, then struggles to undo it. Cool, tense and involving. Laura Michelle Kelly stars in the musical-comedy Goddess, which is far too contrived to properly engage the audience, even with decent performances and ok songs. Wakolda is a superbly insinuating thriller from Argentina about a young teen girl in 1960s Patagonia who befriends a German doctor who just might be Josef Mengele. And The Man Whose Mind Exploded is a wonderful doc about Drako Zarharzar, a colourful eccentric in Brighton who's unable to form new memories and has a lot to say about ageing and memory.
Monday, 16 June 2014
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Further afield, we also caught Nicole Kidman and Mark Strong in the erratic Memento-meets-50 First Dates thriller Before I Go to Sleep Home, Emily Browning in the enjoyably offhanded Scottish musical God Help the Girl, Toby Jones in the urgent but uneven teen immigration drama Leave to Remain, Naya Rivera in the effectively creepy thriller Home, Diane Kruger in the too-wacky French rom-com A Perfect Plan, and the involving, fable-like Palestinian drama When I Saw You. But the most important film of the week was the finely crafted doc We Are Many, about how governments ignored the largest protest in human history in February 2003 and invaded Iraq anyway. But the lingering fallout from that day has changed the world.
I also was able to attend the launch event at the British Library for The Good Inn, a graphic novel created by Pixies frontman Black Francis, author Josh Frank and artist Stephen Appleby, all of whom were on hand to talk about their surreal story, which involves the early history of film in Paris. So at the event, they screened two early classics that inspired the project: Georges Melies' A Trip to the Moon and Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou. A terrific evening!
Sunday, 8 June 2014
Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Virtually every genre taste was catered to for London critics this past week. We caught up with the Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum sequel 22 Jump Street this week, a raucous comedy that has very little plot but keeps the audience in spasms of laughter all the way through, mainly as it pokes fun at sequels and franchises. There was a very late screening of Edge of Tomorrow, the time-loop alien invasion thriller with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. (No one quite knows why a sharply well-made film as entertaining as this was only screened the day before it opened in the UK, but word of mouth should build for this one.) And we only had one more day's notice for Seth MacFarlane's comedy-Western A Million Ways to Die in the West, a relatively amusing vanity project saved by Charlize Theron, superb supporting actors and cameo turns.
Nicole Kidman does what she can with Grace of Monaco, a corny and heavily fictionalised account of one year in the life of the actress-turned-princess. The stylish and intriguing dark thriller Anna stars Mark Strong as a memory detective tasked with investigating a very troubled teen (Taissa Farmiga). A bracingly original twist on the haunted house movie, Oculus stars Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites as siblings confronting an evil mirror. And the terrific Rosamund Pike and David Tennant are upstaged by three gifted child actors in the surprisingly solid British black comedy What We Did on Our Holiday.