FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Liberal Arts

By Ashley Clark

Troublesome age-gaps, rubbish titles, and unmissable French madness at South London’s greatest cinema.

The big new release at the Ritzy this week is Josh Radnor’s comedy-drama Liberal Arts. Radnor (whom you may recognise from complete Friends knock-off US sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’) himself stars as Jesse, a thirtysomething who returns to his alma mater for his former professor’s retirement party, and falls for 19-year-old college student Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen). There’s instant chemistry, and Jesse is sent into a tailspin. It’s occasionally a bit smug, but generally pretty funny and sweet, and features some great performances, not least from Richard Jenkins (who seems to be in everything at the moment) as Jesse’s former lecturer.

There are a couple of contenders this week for the award of Least Imaginative Title Of The Year™. The first is creepy chiller Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke as a true-crime writer who’s made a career out of exposing police mistakes. When he moves his family into a house where a shocking small-town killing took place (bad move, Ethan!), things start to go horribly wrong. It tips more than a cheeky wink toward Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, but it’s an effective little popcorn-spiller nonetheless. The second is low-budget US horror-comedy Some Guy Who Kills People. It’s about, yeah, you know…

It came out last Friday, but you absolutely must go and see Holy Motors; the bizarre, brilliant and unclassifiable new film from French director Leos Carax. Boasting a breathtaking performance from French actor Denis Lavant in at least nine separate roles, it’s a sad/funny/disturbing/utterly mental treatise on the changing role of cinema in our lives, and the parts we routinely, unconsciously play in everyday existence.

Other films continuing their runs include Rian Johnson’s excellent, original time-travel sci-fi Looper; Christian Petzold’s superb East-Germany-was-grim-in-the-1980s drama Barbara;  well acted and stylish, but pretentious pseudo-political thriller Killing Them Softly; uplifting, disability-themed French drama Untouchable; Joe Wright’s attractive-if-stodgy period drama Anna Karenina; creepily atmospheric drama/horror hybrid Berberian Sound Studio; and enjoyable animation Paranorman (in 3D).

In terms of repertory cinema, there are a few screenings of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic chiller The Birds. Coincidentally (or perhaps not, who knows?), the Picturehouse Discover Tuesdays strand continues with a screening of Yves Caumon’s introspective French drama The Bird – it’s a low-key art-house treat. Continuing on a French tip, there’s also a cheeky screening of silent Oscar conqueror The Artist.

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.