At The Flix with @Timmy666

March 14, 2016

Film Faves

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Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix, a weekly trawl through the films out in Birmingham.

Anomalisa (15)

Charlie Kaufman is arguably cinema’s most daring and interesting screenwriter. Anomalisa is another example of why!

Only Kaufman, with the exception perhaps of Woody Allen in his pomp, can blend the metaphysical questions with a blend of surrealism and humour, all wrapped up in a extremely realistic stop motion animation.

This is film about loneliness, the mundane and the search for love. In the lead character Michael Stone’s search for love, you are reminded of the fragility of human existence that Kaufman has covered many times before, and yet such profound dark subject matter is dealt with incredible deftness and it always funny.

As Stone says, “our time is limited, we forget that!”. Be sure to catch this film while you can.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (12A)

Finding a niche somewhere between the Twiglet and Hunger Games franchises, The Divergent Series is proving itself a potent success in box office terms.

The film follows up from where Insurgent left off, getting outside the wall of Chicago, where Tris and Four get embroiled in a battle threatening all of humanity. Cue a bunch of universal themes including courage, love and, yes, allegiance.

Despite box office success, you do feel that the series is a bit of a second rate Hunger Games and sadly the critical response has borne this out.

Fifty Shades of Black (15)

A year after the ‘Gray’ adaptation got its big screen outing, Marlon Wayans turns his spoof antics to a film and book already much satirised and mocked.

Does it actually require parody? Well, Wayans thinks so. In a way, Wayans has effectively taken the Chevvy Chase mantle for the millennial generation, going for lampooning movie franchises steeped in cultural referencing.

The question arises, are the unintentional laughs greater in the film it is trying to send up? I think someone in Hollywood must start to realise the “cinema parody” genre isn’t really working.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (PG)

Po is back as everyone’s favourite furry action hero. Jack Black inhabits the role with the kind of joy and verve which brings a smile to kids of all ages.

Dreamworks Animation have seemingly struck a little gold here, focusing on the action adventure first rather than  fixation on it being a funny animal film.

If the film posits the mantra “Be the best you can be”, then it seems that this could be the film where this is the case for Po, bristling with exciting action set pieces, beautiful design and with the knowledge that pandas are, by their nature, free from criticism.

Add to this cast of big names bigger than Mongolia, and this little furry slab of awesome is realised.

The Witch (15)

This is a film to really pay attention to. Robert Eggers’ passionate study of 17th Century New England life, provides a focus on witches with the sort of sensibility and intensity that other directors in the horror genres would envy.

It’s about family, honour and the traditions of life turned upside down through witchery. It is a meticulously researched and honestly acted portrayal of superstition, religion and virtue.

As a historian, and one who studied witchcraft at University, I am excited for a director willing to allow the audience to embrace the life of a 17th Century family, and for us to feel the horrific world it inhabits.

This sense of the ‘other’ only serves to make the horror more terrifying. And as is made clear, the devil is within ‘us’.

Elsewhere this week, the mac have showings of Hou Hsaio-hsien’s comeback, The Assassin (12A), a 9th century martial arts inspired film highly regarded for its sheer visual beauty and poise.

At the mac, watch out for a showing of Meru (15) on Monday, a 2015 documentary film chronicling the first ascent of the “Shark’s Fin” route on the Meru Peak, a film that won the U.S. Audience Documentary Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

That’s it from me. As always, any queries or quibbles, please don’t hesitate to tweet me @timmy666.

Until next time, have a great week at the cinema.

#AtTheFlix

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