FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Life of Pi

By Ashley Clark

The long-awaited big-screen adaptation of a Booker Prize-winning novel is the big draw at South London’s best cinema in the run up to Christmas.

Taiwanese director Ang Lee returns for his first film since 2009’s low-key Taking Woodstock with a sumptuous, big screen adaptation of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Life of Pi (which is, like an increasing number of blockbusters these days, screening in both 3D and 2D versions). It’s the story of a zoo-owner’s son in 1970s India who becomes stranded aboard a boat alongside a CGI tiger named Richard Parker. We’ve all been there. It’s an absorbing, thought-provoking work that’s chiefly notable for its stunning visuals.

Still dividing critical opinion (though still marching its way to the top of the box office regardless) is Peter Jackson’s long-winded The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 3D, starring Martin Freeman as young Bilbo Baggins – it’s the first instalment of the New Zealand director’s second big budget Tolkien trilogy. Provoking almost as much debate as the suitability of chopping a fairly lean book into three gargantuan pieces is Jackson’s decision to shoot at 48fps (double the standard frame rate), resulting in a weirdly slick, hyperreal aesthetic. Oh, and there’s lots of walking in it.

In a week in which new releases are thin on the ground, there are plenty of opportunities to catch some recent fare that you might have missed. Films still showing include top animation Rise of the Guardians, hypnotic climate change doc Chasing Ice, David O Russell’s touching, funny mental illness-themed drama Silver Linings Playbook, Ben Wheatley’s excellent black comedy Sightseers (featuring an amazing use of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Christmas number. 2 ‘The Power of Love’), and hugely enjoyable Bond box office conqueror Skyfall (will it ever come out of cinemas?)

There’s also Martin McDonagh’s comedy-thriller Seven Psychopaths, which I’ve been equivocal about in recent weeks, but I’m going to come right out here and say it: it’s a load of rubbish. However, with Psychopaths, hopefully McDonagh has got something out of his system and he’ll be able to go back to making films that aren’t the cinematic equivalent of masturbating to a video of yourself masturbating. Food lovers (and/or lovers of gentle Danish comedies) can still catch the re-release of 1987‘s Babette’s Feast. It tells the story of a 19th-century political refugee and former chef who finds shelter with – and then proceeds to change the lives of – two pious, elderly sisters whose devotion to their preacher dad and his Protestant sect has denied them any chance of romance or adventure.

Never missing a trick, the Ritzy guys have programmed a whole bunch of Christmas related stuff, including a re-release of Joe Dante’s 1984 classic furry horror Gremlins, Macaulay Culkin-when-he-was-cute comedy Home Alone, and Vincente Minelli’s lovely Meet Me In St. Louis. But the best film in this week’s rep programme is David Lynch’s beautiful, disturbing Hollywood nightmare Mulholland Dr., which gets late-night screenings on Friday and Saturday.

Hardcore cinephiles should be aware that there is a limited programme on Christmas Eve, and the Ritzy Cinema is completely closed on Christmas Day.

Happy Holidays everyone!!