The Week In Screenings Part LIV
From screening room, to multiplex and back again, our regular screening correspondent has seen another batch of current and forthcoming releases and here’s his latest missive from the front line…
This week was a really busy one, five films over five nights, which always makes the week go very quickly, though two of the films I’m embargoed from talking about, which is a shame as one of them was the best thing I’d seen for a while, you’ll hear more of that closer to the film’s release date.
First up this week was Red Lights, a supernatural tinged mystery thriller from director Rodrigo Cortes (Buried) starring Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy. I’d deliberately avoid finding out too much about this one, I’ve always had a fascination with science investigating the supernatural so hearing that this was the direction taken her made want to see it as cold as I could.
Weaver and Murphy star as two paranormal investigators who specialise in debunking everything they look into. Scientists to the core they don’t believe in any element of the supernatural and volunteer their time to investigate supposed supernatural events, always being able to explain and discover what’s actually happening. When they cross paths with a mysterious psychic, who’s vanished from public eye for 30 years, they begin to delve into their most dangerous case yet.
The first third of Red Lights is actually really good, it’s very measured and downplays all its scares, with Weaver on top form as the scientist who manages to dismiss and disprove everything that’s put in front of her. The tone of the film is very cool and calm and does a good job of reflecting the tone of its protagonists, unfortunately thing don’t stay like that and we’re then thrust into a world of histrionics and some overacting on the part of Murphy, which is a shame as he’s normally really good and the film showed real promise at the start. De Niro is solid in the role of the mysterious psychic who claims to have unlimited powers, but he’s not really stretched by the material, which never quite becomes as clever as it should have been. The script never quite decides if it wants to be an out and out horror, or if it wants to sit in the world of psychological thriller, which is a shame as there’s real potential here for something interesting, a clinical look into the world of the psychic with science encountering something it can’t explain is a great theme, just here it descends into an overplayed drama which never lives up to its intriguing opening.
Next up was the Judd Apatow-produced comedy The Five-Year Engagement, which stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple who fall in love, become engaged and then discover life doesn’t always work out how you planned when their engagement goes on much longer than expected. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, who’s worked with Segel on Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is on familiar territory here and this feels very similar to the other Apatow produced films we’ve been seeing over the years, and sadly also suffers from one of the traits all these films have in common: they’re too long. Here it feels like a 90-minute film is being stretched into a 120-minute running time as we’re treated to all sorts of asides that don’t really help things along. Segel and Blunt form an interesting couple and there’s various attempts through the film to make them appear as a real couple, with fights and breaks ups included along the way. There’s also a lack of jokes and it never really produces any great belly laughs, which is what you really expect from this style of film. More of a missed-opportunity than actually bad, The Five-Year Engagement should find its audience simply through the people involved.
Last film of the week was the eagerly-awaited new David Cronenberg feature Cosmopolis, eagerly awaited by me that is, as Cronenberg is always interesting and always brings a unique and original tone to his films. Here Robert Pattinson stars as billionaire banker Eric Packer who sets off across town in this chauffeured limo in search of a haircut, only to find himself crossing paths with a series of acquaintances, all of whom slowly start to unpeel the cracks in his life. I really enjoyed Cosmopolis, its slightly futuristic setting feels instantly Cronenberg and there’s a strange off-kilter feel to the entire film which feels very similar to his other work. It can be a hard watch, as it’sd very dialogue heavy and the extended conversations the characters have threw me at first, in fact I’m tempted to see it again as towards the end I was losing track of what was happening, but I really enjoyed its level of intelligence that was on display. Also Pattinson is excellent in the lead role, he really carrys the film and does a great job of portraying Packer’s fall from in control business man to someone who questions his every reason for being. There’s also a brilliant cast of supporting actors who all help guide the film along, all of whom seem to revel in the chance to get to work on the heavy dialogue featured in all their sections. It might not be a film for everyone, it’s at times a lot to take in, but stick with it and Cosmopolis is a rewarding and intelligent feature from a director who never seems to lose his stride.Tags: screenings
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