FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Take This Waltz

By Ashley Clark

Although quiet on the new releases front, it’s another great, varied week at South London’s best cinema.

It’s a fairly quiet week for new releases at the Ritzy, with only Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz fitting into this bracket. The second feature from the promising young Canadian actor-director focuses on married 28 year-old Margot (Michelle Williams), who falls head-over-heels for a struggling artist slash rickshaw driver (bloody hipsters). Less corrosive and, frankly, massively upsetting than 2010’s Blue Valentine, it’s nevertheless an interesting, sensitive look at relationships (and how they can stagnate), which may prove divisive along gender lines. Williams, as ever, is fantastic.

Still screening is Alison Klayman’s excellent – if uncritical – portrait of the controversial Chinese artist in Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. The director enjoyed unrestricted access to the artist from 2008 through to his eventual 2011 arrest by Chinese authorities on the grounds of dissident activity, and she captures some staggering footage along the way. Weiwei’s steadfast dedication to Twitter as a political tool is intriguing, while a highlight is the section devoted to Weiwei’s artistically formative period in New York in the 1980s.  Never Sorry was the winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not hard to see why this moving, enlightening doc was garlanded.

Both franchise reboot The Bourne Legacy and new Pixar effort Brave came out (rather oddly) on Monday, and neither quite capture the magic of their immediate predecessors. Though Jeremy Renner does a solid job as the muscled Matt Damon replacement, the film is action by numbers; a corollary of the first films’ in the series parsing of the action genre to sinewy formula – where is there left to go? Likewise, Brave is watchable, but does very little new, and has nothing on the innovative studio’s former glories. That said, it’s technically hugely impressive, and it’s nice to see a female heroine in a Pixar tale; it was about time to be honest, after a fish, a depressed metal bin, and a cooking rat had got there first.

Sunday afternoon sees a special preview of Bart Layton’s thought-provoking, troublesome and extraordinarily creepy doc The Imposter, about a man who showed up at the house of a Texan family claiming to be the son who had disappeared three years earlier. The screening is followed by a satellite Q&A with Jon Ronson, a journalist and author who, with his excellent record of investigation into strange circumstances, seems perfectly suited to this improbable tale. This one’ll probably be busy, so snap up tickets quick.

Films continuing their runs include Malik Bedjelloul’s superb, surprising music doc, Searching for Sugarman; puerile, pseudo-bestial bromance Ted, the debut feature film from Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane; and Christopher Nolan’s portentous Batman trilogy closer The Dark Knight Rises. There’s also a special Discover Tuesdays screening of Bouli Lanner’s The Giants, a charming, low-budget Belgian tale of friendship and growing up. Like Stand By Me with waffles or something.

In terms of rep cinema, there are late night screenings of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist on Friday and Saturday night. Neither time, nor endless parodies, have done anything to diminish the sheer terror evinced by this disturbing classic of demonic possession.

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 @PPlasticHelmetand/or him @_ash_clark.