Monday 21 March 2016

Carol v Krampus: Dawn Of Justice (Your Week In Film March 21-27)

Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman team up in Dawn Of Justice

TV, Radio, DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and cinema picks for the next seven days...

Monday 21st: Carol (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD) is so classy and graceful it makes Breakfast At Tiffany's look like The Toxic Avenger. Todd Haynes' adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price Of Salt is set in 1950s New York and tells the story of a forbidden love affair between unhappy socialite Cate Blanchett (the titular Carol) and Rooney Mara's Therese, a department-store clerk with dreams of being a photographer. The plot is minimal and Haynes takes his time exploring his main characters' lives, the evolution of their feelings for each other and how that impacts upon their other relationships (Carol is married to Kyle Chandler's boorish drunk Harge). Blanchett is even more magnetic than usual and Sarah Paulson excels in a supporting role, while Haynes once again proves himself a consummate storyteller and an absolute demon when it comes to period detail. Also out today and deserving of your attention is riotous transgender comedy Tangerine (DVD, VOD), Jean-Luc Godard's influential crime flick Bande à Part (BR), and Nic Roeg's unsung masterpiece Eureka (dual format). The latter pair are high-definition transfers packed with extras.

Cate Blanchett is magnetic in Todd Haynes' Carol

Tuesday 22nd: Krampus (Netflix) is an enjoyable Christmas horror/comedy about a demonic Santa Claus, starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette. I'm not sure it's exactly what you'd call a perfect fit for the early days of spring though. Rather more serious is twisty romantic thriller The Two Faces Of January (23:35, Film4) which boasts a strong cast in Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac.  

Krampus: Probably best to stay off his naughty list

Wednesday 23rd: Catch Me Daddy (23:15, Film4) is an oppressive and brutal British 'honour killing' drama about a young couple on the run on the Yorkshire Moors from the girl's vengeful father. First-time director Matthew Wolfe blends elements of social realism, thriller and the western (The Searchers has been mentioned as an influence) to great effect while newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed is a revelation as Laila. The great Woody Allen still pops up with the occasional humdinger (Blue Jasmine) but, sad to say, Midnight In Paris (Amazon Prime Video) isn't one of them. This tale of a frustrated writer (Owen Wilson) swept back in time to hang out with his literary heroes (including Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald) is amiable, romantic and steeped in nostalgia but never really sharp enough. MUBI’s John Cassavetes retrospective continues with crime thriller Gloria, starring Gena Rowlands as a showgirl who becomes the reluctant guardian of a young boy after his family are killed by the mob. 

Catch Me Daddy is oppressive, brutal and British

Thursday 24th: Antonia Quirke talks to Ben Affleck on The Film Programme (16:00, BBC Radio Four) about stepping into the Dark Knight's cape and cowl for Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which opens on Friday. After the charmless festival of shonky CGI that was Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel, I don't have particularly high hopes, to be honest.

Dawn Of Justice: Don't fuck it up this time, Snyder!

Friday 25th: Zootropolis was previewed in cinemas last week but officially opens today. Disney's animated tale of a rabbit cop (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her sly fox of a partner (Jason Bateman) is a breathless romp packed with gags, thrills and some surprisingly heavy themes (prejudice and intolerance). Me and my kids loved it. Also hitting your local multiplex today is Welcome To Me (Kristen Wiig as a mentally ill woman who wins $23million on the lottery), Disorder (Matthias Schoenaerts as a soldier-tuned-bodyguard with PTSD), and Speed Sisters (documentary about an all-woman street-car racing team in Palestine). Meanwhile, Curzon Home Cinema continues its fine tradition of showing new films at the same time as they are released in theatres with Iona. Ruth Negga - soon to be seen in HBO's adaptation of the Preacher comic-book - stars as a young woman fleeing Glasgow with her son after a brutal crime. Elsewhere, Ian McKellen is quite superb as an ageing Sherlock in Mr. Holmes (Amazon Prime Video).

Zootropolis: Great gags and surprisingly adult themes
Saturday 26th: The Heat (21:00, Channel 4) is a foul-mouthed cop comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock as mismatched law enforcement officers stepping on each other's toes as they try to bring down a Boston drug lord. In some hands it would be a disaster but Katie Dippold's sharp script and director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) bring the best out of McCarthy and Bullock, who have genuine chemistry. Oscar-winning Pixar animation Inside Out hits Sky Movies Premiere today (16:30 and 20:00), while psychic super-beings go to war in David Cronenberg's Scanners (00:45, Horror Channel). Still head-explodingly great. 

Bullock and McCarthy tear it up in The Heat

Sunday 27th:
Nothing says Easter quite like Quentin Tarantino's riotous WWII action-adventure Inglourious Basterds (23:00, Channel 4). The director's career was certainly in need of resurrection after the disappointing grindhouse dead-end of Death Proof. Here, Brad Pitt is the leader of the titular Basterds, a crack team of Nazi hunters out to destroy Hitler and his high command. Funny, violent and a bit too long - typical of recent Tarantino in other words.

Hitler's high command is the target in Inglourious Basterds

The last 5 films I saw (from great to... actually, they're all pretty great this week)
1. The Witch (2015): Writer/director Robert Eggers' masterful exercise in slow-burn horror sees a 17th century Puritan family battling demons within and without. Utterly unsettling and filled to the brim with palpable dread, it's probably my favourite film of the year so far.
2. Divorce Iranian Style (1998): Eye-opening documentary about a Tehran divorce court focusing on several real-life cases. The British film crew are afforded extensive access to proceedings, some of which will make your jaw drop.
3. Down Terrace (2009): Ben Wheatley's debut feature is a bitterly comic subversion of the crime family drama. These cut-price Corleones are based in Brighton and, in between smoking endless weed and bickering, spend their time steeped in blood-thirsty paranoia.
4. Run Lola Run (1998): Time-warping thriller featuring Franka Potente as the titular Lola, desperately trying to get her hands on 100,000 German marks to save the life of her boyfriend. Three different scenarios play out at a frantic pace as director Tom Tykwer merges animation and live action to winning effect.
5. Anomalisa (2015): Ennui-filled but fascinating adult stop-motion puppet animation from co-directors Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York) and Duke Johnson. David Thewlis (Macbeth) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight) provide the voices. 

Run Lola Run: Let's do the time warp again

UK box office top 10 
1. Kung Fu Panda 3
2. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
3. London Has Fallen
4. Deadpool R
5. Hail, Caesar! R
6. Grimsby R
7. The Witch R
8. How To Be Single
9. Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
10. Anomalisa R

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