FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Willem Dafoe as The Hunter

Whether you’re interested in existential thrillers, brave political gestures, perverse acts with chicken drumsticks, or ladies with three breasts (I think that should cover all of you), south London’s best cinema has got it taped.

By Ashley Clark

The best new film opening at the Ritzy this week is The Hunter,  a haunting, effective thriller with an unusual ecological theme. It’s marked by an intense turn from the excellent Willem Dafoe, who shines in a rare leading role as a mercenary tasked by a shadowy corporation to find a rare tiger in the Australian wild. When he arrives, posing as a scientist, he must face the wrath of the local woodsmen who suspect his motivations. Though it’s hardly a wild ride, Daniel Nettheim’s film burns slowly, and emerges as a sobering, evocative work which provokes thought on a number of issues. Oh, and if you ever wanted to find out what a grown-up Drazic from Heartbreak High looks like, this is the film for you.

Also new (though with a limited number of screenings) is the rousing Salute. At the 1968 Mexico Olympic games, African-American US runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos celebrated their respective gold and bronze medals by giving a Black Power salute; a deeply political gesture which had serious repercussions on their lives and careers. The subject of this moving, low-key doc, however, is the third man on the dais: Australian Peter Norman – a committed Christian and family man who also stood up for his beliefs. A labour of love directed by Norman’s nephew, this film is a tale of courage, belief and self-sacrifice that’s well worth seeing.

As if I didn’t eulogize about it enough last week, I’d like to take the opportunity to again proclaim Killer Joe, starring a revelatory Matthew McConaughey as a charismatically psychotic cop/hitman, the best thriller of the year. It’s taut, bleak and as black as comedy gets, with a selection of moments precision tooled to test your gag reflex. Don’t miss it, but – be warned – it’s not a date movie by any stretch (unless you’re into *that* sort of thing).

In terms of repertory, you’d be barking mad to miss the chance to see Paul Verhoeven’s cracking, violent 1990 sci-fi romp Total Recall on Tuesday, which captured Arnie Schwarzenegger at the peak of his powers, and contains the great line, “CONSIDER THIS A DIVORCE!” Watch out also for a pair of late-night screenings of Killer Joe director William Friedkin’s ace 1971 thriller The French Connection.

Films continuing their runs this week include the fun The Amazing Spider-Man (which screens in revolutionary 3D – no chance of overkill there), the pretty smug Friends With Kids, touching mumblecore Your Sister’s Sisterand STILL Wes Anderson’s cavalcade of fey, Moonrise Kingdom (you’ll know by now that I didn’t care for it).

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.