The week's new films reviewed and rated
There's everything this week, from eyepopping Palestinian strife to intense New York insularity to, well, a man with a stick of celery up his bum
It’s hard to remember a week that presented as many diverse cinematic experiences as this one: everything from eyepopping Palestinian strife to intense New York insularity, from cheery, challenging French farce to, well, a man with a stick of celery up his bum.
Our film of the week is ‘Ajami’, a riveting, microcosmic study of one Israeli neighbourhood where Jews and Arabs live in uneasy partnership, and where gang warfare, drug abuse and street violence are rife.
Equally satisfying, but from the opposite end of the world cinema spectrum, ‘Wild Grass’ is 88-year-old French legend Alain Resnais’s inscrutable but very entertaining take on the romantic comedy. But the week’s third foreign language effort doesn’t match up: ‘Hierro’ is a Polanski-esque thriller which can’t quite deliver on an intriguing setup.
The American options are an equally scattershot bunch: best of the lot has to be ‘Please Give’, a chatty, pleasingly Woody Allen-ish female-fronted New York drama. Similarly familial, but not nearly as smart, ‘Our Family Wedding’ is a drab culture-clash romcom which tries to make a movie star out of ‘Ugly Betty’’s America Ferrara.
And, as if the sight of Forest Whitaker being humped by a goat wasn’t enough, our cousins across the pond have sent us three more would-be comedies, each of which sets out to blend violence and laughter, and falls flat on its face. Harmony Korine’s ‘Trash Humpers’ is an irritatingly self-conscious attempt to shock complacent modern audiences with smut and yelling, ‘MacGruber’ is a tired action pastiche with a decent line in ’80s mullet gags, and the simply dreadful ‘Killers’ features Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl as a married couple hunted by an army of hitmen.
But the Americans aren’t the only ones trying to blend comedy and thrills with precious little success: ‘Wild Target’ is British director Jonathan Lynn’s substandard take on the genre, with Bill Nighy as a lonely assassin charged with keeping an eye on two wayward youngsters.
The week’s big reissue is ‘Rashomon’, Akira Kurosawa’s unmissable time-scrambling samurai masterpiece, tying in with an anniversary season at the BFI. And in the Institute’s IMAX screen you can find ‘Journey to Mecca’, a visually dazzling but narratively drab look at a key figure in Islamic history.
Trevor Johnston on 'Ajami'‘Everything begins and ends in gunfire, but between times there’s a steady build-up in anxiety and understanding.’
David Jenkins on 'Wild Grass'‘It feels like Resnais’s ode to something like ‘Twin Peaks’ – a work which is inviting and gentle on the surface but inscrutable and strange the more you look at it.’
Nigel Floyd on 'Hierro'‘The film’s uneven tone, alternating between dream-like atmospherics and melodramatic suspense, distracts us.’
Cath Clarke on 'Please Give'‘Writer/director Nicole Holofcener’s sharp talky comedies can seem too Woody Allen for chick flick, too earthy for arthouse.’
Nick Schager on 'Our Family Wedding'‘A cursed union of slushy sentimentality and dim humour.’
David Jenkins on 'Trash Humpers'‘Imagine if you salvaged a grubby VHS tape off the roadside only to discover it contained outtakes from an amateur ‘Jackass’ knock-off.’
Tom Huddleston on 'MacGruber'‘After ‘Hot Shots!’, ‘Austin Powers’ and ‘Team America’, is there still mileage in the slapstick action-movie pastiche?’
Tom Huddleston on 'Killers''Built on marital strife, knockabout violence and shouting.’
David Jenkins on 'Wild Target'‘An extremely ropey remake of Pierre Salvadori’s jocular 1993 French hit ‘Cible Emouvante’.’
Trevor Johnston on 'Rashomon'‘What’s still staggering is the vigour, fluidity and sheer invention of Kurosawa’s direction.’
Derek Adams on 'Journey to Mecca'‘As an enlightening illustration of one of Islam’s most fascinating rituals, this just about succeeds.’
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Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
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The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
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The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
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Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
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What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
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From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
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The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
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Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
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The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
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We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
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Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
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The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
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