FILM: Brixton Blog’s Thursday round-up

James Gandolfini 1961-2013
James Gandolfini 1961-2013

By Ashley Clark

Love, loss and zombies this week at south London’s best cinema.

Firstly this week, I’d like to break protocol to use a little of this space to pay tribute to James Gandolfini, the actor best known for his work in The Sopranos, who died yesterday at the terribly young age of 51. His tragic passing has inspired some beautiful writing in very short turnaround, including this, by Vice magazine’s Clive Martin, and this, by Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz. Gandolfini was a great actor and, by all accounts, a great bloke. He will be sorely missed.

Moving onto happier tidings, the best new film at the Ritzy starting Friday is Richard Linklater’s laidback, languorous Before Midnight, the third instalment in his series of films tracking the courtship of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), following Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Here we find the pair – tickling their 40s and parents to adorable twin girls – on a Greek island where they’ve spent the summer holidaying away from their home in Paris. Jesse is struggling to maintain his relationship with his 13-year-old son, while Celine finds herself at a career crossroads, and is tempted by the offer of a government job. From this starting point, we’re treated to a beautifully observed series of conversations touching on companionship, commitment and mortality. When the credits roll, it’s likely you’ll be left feeling profoundly moved and wanting more.

Also new is big budget blockbuster World War Z, which stars Brad Pitt as a UN employee bouncing around the globe doing his bit to stop an epidemic that’s threatening to precipitate a zombie apocalypse. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have read the fascinating Vanity Fair article which details the film’s deeply troubled production – sample line: “the wrap-up crew found a stack of purchase orders related to the cast and extras that had been casually tossed into a desk drawer and forgotten; the amount totaled in the millions of dollars.” Seems there was more to worry about than zombies. Anyhow, the trailer suggests a VFX extravaganza, and Pitt’s usually worth a watch. So maybe see it? I dunno.

Fresh from its savage panning by the critics at the Cannes film festival (where consensuses can form at an alarming rate), on Monday the Ritzy presents a special preview (+ director Q&A) of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Thailand-set thriller Only God Forgives, the director’s second outing with R-Gos. It is currently sold out, but keep an eye out for returns. Fans of extreme violence shouldn’t be disheartened though, for there are a pair of late night weekend screenings of Paul Hyett’s grisly brothel horror The Seasoning House.

There’s plenty of stuff you can still catch, including Zack Snyder’s lugubrious Superman reboot Man of Steel; Joss Whedon’s monochrome, low-key and witty modern-day revamp of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, starring Alexis Denisov and Amy Acker; Steven Soderbergh’s excellent Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra; and Shane Meadows’ enjoyable Stone Roses documentary Made of Stone. There’s some great rep on too, including Bob Rafelson’s 1972 slow-burner The King of Marvin Gardens, Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist classic Journey To Italy, and an MGM special screening of Blake Edwards’ The Pink Panther.

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.