FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

Top Gere

By Ashley Clark

Slick commodity traders and seedy families are all the rage at the Ritzy this week.

Nicholas Jarecki’s crafty thriller Arbitrage finds Richard Gere (on exceptionally good form) playing Robert Miller, a millionaire New York hedge fund manager whose carefully ordered life falls apart after a disastrous incident in his personal life. In something of a boom era for films with bombastically elephantine running times (Django, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty etc…) it’s hugely refreshing to see a tight, scaled-down potboiler with a fast pace and an tricky plot which keeps us constantly guessing as to what’s on the horizon. Yes, it’s a trifle trashy, and it runs out of gas a bit by the end, but it’s well worth catching.

Stoker, the long-awaited English-language debut from Oldboy director Park Chan-Wook, marks a radical change of thematic direction (if not a significant alteration in his trademark levels of violent kinkiness). It’s a salacious, enjoyable Gothic thriller which begins in the aftermath of the death of a family patriarch, and focuses on the emotionally uncompromising relationship between daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) and her chilly mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). The arrival of enigmatically seedy Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) only pushes this strained relationship further. Interestingly (or not, depending on your point of view), it’s written by Wentworth Miller, star of TV’s Prison Break.

Accompanying Stoker are a couple of late-night weekend screenings of Park’s viciously entertaining 2009 vampire flick Thirst. Also on a horror tip, you can find a couple of lates of Barry (Diner) Levinson’s brisk, enjoyable found-footage frightener The Bay.

Films continuing their runs include Rich Moore’s ace animation Wreck-It Ralph; Terrence Malick’s moving and rather beautiful To The Wonder; the wildly ambitious but only partially successful novel adaptation Cloud Atlas; Cate Shortland’s intelligent and disquieting Nazi-themed drama Lore; and Pablo Larrain’s superb No.  You can also still catch Oscar-snafflers Argo, Lincoln, Django Unchained and Life Of Pi. (Apropos of nothing, here’s a picture of Pi director Ang Lee with an In-N-Out burger in one hand, Oscar in the other.) Plus, in case you missed it first time round, Alex Gibney’s multiple Pope-skewerer Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God – about child abuse in the Catholic Church – is playing as this week’s Discover Tuesdays film.

All films showing at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton Oval. Book tickets here.

Ashley Clark runs the film blogPermanent Plastic Helmet. You can follow it on Twitter@PPlasticHelmet and/or him @_ash_clark.