FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master

By Ashley Clark

It’s a big week for new releases at the Ritzy, with two of the world’s most highly regarded auteurs unleashing new material upon the south London populace. The final Twilight film is also out.

One of this year’s most eagerly anticipated releases is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which comes to Brixton after a two-week limited run (on 70mm film) in Central London. Set largely in a post-World War II America, it’s an enigmatic, expansive drama which draws on familiar Andersonian themes of surrogate father figures, troubled young men, and chance. It’s beautifully shot, atmospheric, and marked by two fantastic central performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman as disturbed drifter Freddie Quell and pompously charismatic cult leader Lancaster Dodd respectively. However, after a promising start, it becomes rather stilted and repetitive, and disappears (at great, churning length) up its own obliquity in a puff of smoke. However, as Sight & Sound’s Nick Pinkerton astutely puts it: “It isn’t a great film … but it’s easily the best movie this year to talk about”. Go see it, and make up your own mind.

Altogether more satisfying is Michael Haneke’s brilliant study of dementia, Amour, which scooped the Palme d’Or award for best film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Starring Emanuelle Riva and Jean Louis-Trintignant as a pair of retired octogenarian music teachers living in a spacious-yet-oppressive Parisian flat, it’s a compassionate, rigorous and wrenching work about the pain that comes from staring mortality in the face. What’s more, it makes a mockery of tired accusations that Haneke is a chilly, heartless director. Bring your tissues. You will need them.

Also out this week is the final instalment of the wildly successful Twilight saga, Breaking Dawn Part II, starring R-Patz, K-Stew, T-Laut, D-Fak, M-She, P-Fac and the rest of the crew. The synopsis tells me that “the newly-vamped Bella and Edward must face the malign Volturi council, who threaten the well-being of their newborn child”, and you might know more about what that means than I do. I’ve yet to see it, but have heard through the grapevine that it’s actually the best one yet.

Films continuing their runs this week include fun Ben Affleck larky period beard-off Argo; box office conquering Bond bastard Skyfall; Jacques Audiard’s Rust & Bone – the end result of what happens when you chuck amputee sex, the B-52s, maverick whales and miserable French people into the cinematic blender; and fun kiddie fare Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.

There’s the usual diet of intriguing rep cinema on offer, too. The Master’s release is supported by a slightly optimistic late show of bizarro Joaquin Phoenix hoax-doc I’m Still Here (which nobody went to see first time round!). There’s also another chance to see Christian Petzold’s brilliant drama Barbara as part of the Picturehouses’ ongoing Discover Tuesdays strand, plus a one-off screening of Fred Zinnemann’s classic From Here To Eternity. Also noteworthy this week is Underwire Festival, a five-day jamboree dedicated to celebrating womens’ short film. It lasts from 20-24 November, and you can find out more about it here.

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.


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