The Week In Screenings Part XXXVI

Tuesday, November 29 2011
The Week In Screenings Part XXXVI

In his latest report on a week’s worth of film watching, our correspondent Alex Kidd raves about a brace of wildly different films and tries to work out why the trailer for another gave away the first third of the film…

Not the busiest week for screenings this time around, but there’s plenty at the cinema to catch anyway, including one film I’ve been following and looking forward to for quite a while: Snowtown.

I’ve always had a great love of Australian cinema, there’s an inherent toughness to their films that seems to come across really well on the big screen, maybe that’s driven by the harsh conditions in parts of the country, the endless wilderness and the intense heat, although maybe that’s just the ones I’ve been watching. Snowtown tells the story of Austalia’s most notorious serial killer John Bunting, a deeply disturbed man who, in quite a unique situation, was able to recruit other people to help him in his murders. That’s where the films finds its heart as the main character is the tormented and abused teenage boy Jamie, who falls under the wing of Bunting as he slowly becomes the father figure he’s been missing.

It’s a very tough and harrowing watch, first time director Justin Kurzel does quite an amazing job helming this deeply disturbing story and manages to coax quite remarkable performances from his cast, including Daniel Henshall as the terrifying killer Bunting. Taking the decision to keep the film centred on the characters director Kurzel eschews any thoughts of this being a regular thriller, it’s all based around the characters and their controlling and abusive relationships, it’s a towering film, one that will really test the nerve of any audience, but ultimately one that really does deserve to be seen.

Then I went from one extreme to the other as my next film was the light comic drama My Week With Marilyn. Based on the memoir by Colin Clark, we’re thrust into the world of movies, Laurence Olivier and or course: Marilyn Monroe. Determined to make his way in the world of film young Colin manages to break into the world of showbiz by getting a job on the new Olivier film, one that he’s also directing. Everything looks like it’s going to go well, that is apart from the films co-star: Marilyn, whose unreliable at the best of times, that’s where Colin comes in, he’s assigned to look after Marilyn and quickly the two form a unique friendship, one that could end up making things worse for everyone involved.

What was quite unexpected was how much of a behind the scenes film this was, it falls into the great tradition of showbiz films, where directors clash with actors, agents clash with producers and somewhere in the middle a film gets made. Williams is simply outstanding as Marilyn, it’s really quite a remarkable performance she puts in and she genuinely captures some of the sizzle and spark that made Marilyn such a huge hit on the screen. While Kenneth Branagh does a great turn as Olivier, he seems to relish playing the acting giant and portrays him in a comic and sympathetic tone. Well worth a watch and highly enjoyable My Week With Marilyn is a great British comic drama and full recommended.

It’s really hard to review Dream House, Jim Sheridan’s supernatural tinged thriller has an interesting premise and a strong cast so it should have been an easy watch, but here’s the problem: the trailer gives away the entire first half of the film, including the mid-point plot twist! As I go to the cinema so often I’d seen the trailer several times already and wondered why it gave away such an important element as this and after having seen the film I’m even more confused as to why they would do this. Knowing what’s going to happen up until this point in the film really feels like you’re sitting there waiting for the film to begin, which was a very odd experience. All of which is a shame as there’s interesting material here and three great leads to carry it all: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts. Weisz in particular is very good as Craig’s wife Libby, her sympathetic performance works well against her husband’s deteriorating mental condition and she’s a highlight of the film. Dream House should find a good home on DVD and Blu-ray, its strong cast and spooky premise will really help it, just DON’t watch the trailer before you see it!