FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Midnight’s Children

By Ashley Clark

What better way to kick off your post-Christmas detox than by gawping at images on huge screens in a selection of big, dark rooms in deepest south London? Here’s a guide to what’s new this week at Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema.

“I am very proud of this film”, runs the most prominent quote on the poster for Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children. And who is the quote attributed to? That would be one Mr. Salman Rushdie, the author of the book from which the film has been adapted, the co-writer of its screenplay, and its narrator. Such shameless auto-congratulation is unusual, but it’s unlikely that too many critics were queueing up to sing the praises of this confused, unwieldy and generally uninspired adaptation of Rushdie’s 1981 Booker Prize winning novel about the lives of two brothers born at the stroke of midnight on the day of Indian independence from English rule.

Altogether more enjoyable is Colin Trevorrow’s low-key sci-fi/indie/dramedy Safety Not Guaranteed, which tells the story of three magazine employees who head out on an assignment to interview an oddball (Mark Duplass), who has placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel. It’s funny, strangely moving, and sits just on the right side of quirky.

Also out now is Jack Reacher, which sees Hollywood’s no. 1 little fella Tom Cruise return to full-on action superstar mode, playing the eponymous ex-military hardnut who’s called in to get to the bottom of a violent crime. As you might expect, it’s full of explosions and people getting shot. In fact, the only real surprise is the appearance of eccentric German director Werner Herzog as enigmatic villain Zec. Jack Reacher is unremarkable, turn-your-brain-off-at-the-entrance stuff, and only the second directorial effort of Christopher McQuarrie, who’s stepping behind the camera for the first time since 2000’s underwhelming thriller The Way of the Gun.

Films continuing their theatrical runs include Ang Lee’s absorbing, thought-provoking Life of Pi, a work that’s chiefly notable for its stunning visuals; Peter Jackson’s long-winded The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 3D; David O Russell’s touching, funny, mental illness-themed drama Silver Linings Playbook; Martin McDonagh’s masturbatory po-mo fiasco Seven Psychopaths; and top, family-friendly animation Rise of the Guardians. Also for the kids, there are a few showings of Tinkerbell and the Secret of the Wings.

In terms of rep at the Ritzy this week, there isn’t a great deal going on, but Cruise fans will be delighted to hear of two late-night screenings of Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe’s decent remake of excellent Spanish mystery/thriller Abre los Ojos.

Oh, and if I don’t see you beforehand, Happy New Year!!!