Sunday, 20 April 2008

Recent films

Thanks to a 3-month free trial of Lovefilm via Tesco (our “principles” mean that we are happy to get something free from Tesco, we’d just rather not have to pay them anything!) we are enjoying quite a cinematic time at the moment. So far, no duds, thankfully. Here are some highlights…

Inside I’m Dancing (*****)
New man of the moment James McAvoy plays a young man with muscular dystrophy but an overactive mouth who encourages a fellow resident of a home (an outstanding Shetlander, Steven Robertson) for the disabled to make a break for independence. That guy has cerebral palsy and McAvoy is the only character who can properly understand his speech. They gain some real independence in a little flat, make a touching ‘team’ and the film manages to steer clear of sentimentality as it delivers some serious emotional and comic punches. Tremendous performance by Romola Garai (who seems at the moment to be someone to watch, though I have to confess that I found her performances in Amazing Grace and As you like it to be fairly anodyne) and I say that despite my well-publicised hostility to buxom blondes in film. [Minor rant: the use of young females as window-dressing really annoys me, because I think it’s demeaning to them and to women in general, and because it put men (including me, and it annoys me that I am in the way of temptation, bolstering a superficial visual discourse, etc. Why I am so opposed to blondeness is perhaps less justifiable! Maybe blonde hair is the epitome of that whole problem in this culture…]

Bridge to Terabithia (*****)
Again, sentimentality is avoided, and again both Kate and I cried quite a lot. One of the best kids’ films I’ve seen for ages. Childhood imagination and loss brought to life with great skill by writer and actors alike. Even raises the issues of faith in Christ, though in a slightly wet way. Overlooking that, say no more, just watch it.

Hot Fuzz (****)
Crude in places but superb. I saw it for the third time last week and I’m still cackling and speaking in a West Country accent. Films that work as films despite being spoofs and, in this case, being constructed entirely out of cliches are always a delight to me (Tremors being the top dog in that regard, though this one and its partner Shaun of the Dead come pretty close).

Man on Fire (***)
The imagergy of the decayed Americas is everywhere in this revenge drama - Catholic crap in the house of the rich family (pagan shrine to the household gods), main character Creasy walking, dying, in his blue, ill-fitting baseball jacket, big cars offering no protection on the grimy streets of Mexico. Rather vouyeuristic in its celebration of certain types of violence, and very slow at the start (though actually that is in its favour) so even three stars is generous. Nevertheless, a good performance by Denzel W, just a tall, distant North American, unable to connect to the adults in his world and the anticlimax of the film's final self-sacrifice is almost beautiful. Also notable for a rare performance by Christopher Walken on the side of the angels.