By Ashley Clark
From Hugh Grant as a cannibal to Ben Affleck pondering life in a cornfield, it’s a huge and diverse week of new releases at South London’s best cinema.
The big (in all senses of the word) new release at the Ritzy this week is the Wachowski Bros. and Tom Tykwer’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s globe and time-spanning novel Cloud Atlas. Starring the likes of Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in a variety of roles, it takes six individual stories and melts them across the time-space continuum so that, as the film’s rather banal marketing tagline informs us, “everything is connected”. Cloud Atlas is wildly ambitious, very long (a shade under three hours), and will no doubt prove divisive; but it’s worth a shot for its sheer scope and visual quality. Plus, where else are you going to get the chance to see Hugh Grant as a full-body painted cannibal? Exactly.
Also new is Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder, a characteristically wispy and woozy meditation on love, live and other Big Themes from the contemplative director of The Tree of Life. It stars Ben Affleck as Neil, a construction engineer who tumbles head-over-heels for free-spirited Marina (Olga Kurylenko) on a trip to Paris. Back in America, Neil’s fling with a childhood friend (Rachel McAdams) threatens the bond between him and Parisian love. The always-great Javier Bardem also pops up as a ruminative priest. There’s plenty of visual beauty here, but little to change anyone’s mind if they’ve already decided Malick is either a stone-cold genius or a windy fraud.
Cate Shortland’s Lore is out this week, and worth a watch. The Australian director’s latest unravels the troubling story of the epnonymous 14-year-old German daughter of prominent Nazis, who is left to trek northwards across a ruined Germany in the weeks after the Nazi collapse with her infant siblings and a displaced Jewish boy in tow. It’s an intelligent, well-acted and thought-provoking effort.
Films continuing their runs include Rich Moore’s ace animation Wreck-It Ralph; Sacha Gervasi’s dodgy biopic Hitchcock, which features Anthony Hopkins playing Alfred Hitchcock playing Neil Kinnock; Bruce Willis’ painfully uninspired actioner A Good Day to Die Hard; and the return of elderly opera ensemble piece Quartet.
Also, the Oscars take place this weekend, and the Ritzy has helpfully programmed a bunch of the front-runners to jog your memory. There’s Steven Spielberg’s beautifully-acted, but too stately by half Lincoln; Quentin Tarantino’s flabby, slavery-era buddy jaunt Django Unchained; and Ben Affleck’s highly enjoyable period thriller Argo. The best of the lot is Pablo Larrain’s Chilean political drama No, which is up for the Best Film in a Foreign Language award.
In terms of other stuff, you can catch Friday and Saturday lates of Malick’s The Tree of Life, and a special screening (+ director Q&A) of Dylan Mohan Gray’s angry pharmaceutical doc Fire In The Blood. The Ritzy’s Discover Tuesdays arthouse strand continues with a screening of Lenny Abrahamson’s chilly but powerful Irish drama What Richard Did, which focuses on the aftermath of what someone called Richard did.
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.