By Ashley Clark
An Indian epic to give you a numb bum, suburban family traumas, and a talking robot. What more could you possibly want? It’s another week at South London’s best cinema.
To begin with this week, I wanted to devote some proper space to something a little left-field. The Ritzy deserve a bundle of credit for programming both parts of Indian director Anurag Kashyap’s epic (and at times astonishingly violent) crime thriller Gangs of Wasseypur back-to-back, clocking in at 5 hours and 20 minutes. From its pointed opening shot – a close-up on a TV playing upbeat sitcom Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi which slowly pulls back to reveal a cowering family hiding from a gunfight – Gangs is palpably concerned with notions of departure from safe, family-friendly traditions that you might expect from song-and-dance Bollywood fare.
Though it quotes explicitly from Western crime cinema (specifically Goodfellas and Brian de Palma’s Scarface), and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns, it successfully carves its own distinct identity by underpinning the action with a deeply-felt historical relevance (colonial independence, trade unionism, intra-Muslim warfare) and ingenious musical commentaries. It also comments reflexively and extensively on the history of Hindi cinema. Don’t be put off by the running time. Do yourself a favour, and get down to the Ritzy on Saturday afternoon for a truly one-off experience.
There are a handful of new films opening this week, all of which deserve some of your attention, including utterly charming comedy-with-an-edge Robot and Frank, starring Frank Langella as a grumpy old fella opposite a child-sized robot voiced by Peter Sarsgaard; Brit director Rufus Norris’ tough, gripping suburban family drama Broken, starring Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and hugely impressive newcomer Eloise Lawrence; and finally Sam Raimi’s colourful big budget blockbuster Oz: The Great and Powerful 3D.
Films continuing their runs include Park Chan-Wook’s English-language debut Stoker, a salacious Gothic family drama that’s all build-up and no climax; slick thriller Arbitrage, which boasts a fine turn from Richard Gere; Ben Affleck’s entertaining, Oscar-gobbling caper Argo; Quentin Tarantino’s flabby, slavery-era buddy jaunt Django Unchained; Rich Moore’s ace animation Wreck-It Ralph; Cate Shortland’s creepy and thought-provoking girl-Nazi drama Lore; and Cloud Atlas, a novel adaptation that’s colourful, long and wildly ambitious. There are also a few early afternoon screenings of Malik Bendjelloul’s captiavting Oscar-winning documentary Searching For Sugarman, about a pair of South African men’s search for a ‘lost’ rocker.
The Ritzy’s Discover Tuesdays strand, focusing on left-field and arthouse fare, continues with A Liar’s Autobiography, a wacky, animated account of the life of enigmatic, late Monty Python member Graham Chapman. On a further Python tip, you can also catch one of two weekend late screenings of blasphemous classic Monty Python’s Life Of Brian.
All films showing at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton Oval. Book tickets here.