FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Smug horror, Reggae legends, Austrian young offenders and South American film festivals. Where else but south London’s best cinema?

By Ashley Clark

Before I launch into this week’s releases, I thought I’d dedicate a few words to Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s much vaunted horror Cabin In The Woods, which I hadn’t seen last week, but now have. The verdict? Well, despite all the hype and positive press, I found the whole affair a bit underwhelming, frankly. Without wanting to give too much away (the purported ‘twist’ is actually more of a high-concept premise which is actually revealed in the first few minutes), there’s a decent concept there that’s fairly well realised, but ultimately it’s never funny, scary or clever enough. Worse still, there’s a pervasive tone of smugness throughout, meaning you’re never allowed to enjoy the film without the filmmakers telling you how clever they are. So, while it’s not without reasons to recommend it (there’s a few laughs and jumps along the way), it’s hardly a must-see.

The big new release this week is Kevin McDonald’s documentary Marley, about the eponymous reggae legend. It marks the first time that the Marley family have approved, or been involved in, any major film work on Bob’s life, and it shows. A rich, dense combination of rare footage, testimony and insight, it casts a rare spell. At two-and-a-half hours, it’s exhaustive and pretty much definitive. It’s extraordinary documentary filmmaking from the returning McDonald, and unmissable stuff, even if you’re not a huge fan of the man’s music.

Karl Markovics’ Breathing (Atmen) also opens, and is a tender coming-of-age tale about a young Austrian man (Thomas Schubert) serving out time in an offenders institute for an earlier crime. It’s beautifully composed, engrossing stuff which is full of subtle questions about mortality and ethics, and especially impressive when you consider it’s the director’s debut film.

The other new release is charming if stolid Brit dramedy Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt), while the likes of Headhunters, Le Havre and The Hunger Games continue their runs.

In terms of rep cinema this week, you’d be mad to turn down the opportunity to settle in on Sunday afternoon to watch Sidney Lumet’s 1975 masterpiece Dog Day Afternoon, in which Al Pacino stars as a hapless New York bank robber attempting to raise funds for a very surprising reason. Based on a true story, it’s simply one of the very best films of the 1970s. There’s also some tickets left for a late night screening (Friday) of Hard Boiled, John Woo’s cracking 1992 Hong Kong thriller.

The Ritzy is also the home this week of the inaugural Argentine Film Festival in London. Highlights include Pablo Giorgelli’s warm-hearted road movie Las Acacias, the brilliant Ricardo Darin (whom you’ll recognise from the likes of Nine Queens and The Secret In Their Eyes) in immigration drama-comedy Chinese Takeaway, and The Last Summer of la Boyita, Julia Solomonoff’s beautifully shot feature which explores burgeoning sexuality against the stunning backdrop of the Argentine countryside.

All films showing at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton Oval. Book tickets here.

Ashley Clark runs the film blog Permanent Plastic Helmet. You can follow it on Twitter @PPlasticHelmet and/or him @_ash_clark.