By Ashley Clark
Nights in Bangkok that’d make Murray Head blush, paranormal scares, and Japanese animation. Why, it must be another superb week at south London’s greatest cinema.
The highest profile new film at the Ritzy this week is the portentously-titled revenge flick Only God Forgives, the second collaboration between Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and the increasingly stacked blonde bombshell Ryan Gosling, following 2011’s electro-neon head-staving festival Drive. This exceptionally violent Bangkok-set thriller is a further exercise in bloody-minded (and fisted) style-over-substance, and seems precision-tooled to further alienate viewers who found Drive pretentiously husk-ish, or, conversely, further bolster the view of those who see Refn as a visual craftsman nonpareil. Look out for a vampishly against type Kristin Scott Thomas as Gosling’s criminally-minded mother.
Also new is Saw maestro James Wan’s old-school horror film The Conjuring, which stars the dependable duo of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigator couple Ed and Lorraine Warren, who work to assist a family being terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Needless to say, events are promised to take more than one turn for the terrifying. I’ve yet to catch it, but the trailer alone was scary enough to convince me that were I to see it, I’d need to do so with a bunch of people to make me feel safe.
There’s a belated run for superb 2011 Studio Ghibli animation From Up On Poppy Hill, and that’s pretty much it for new releases. However, there’s a bunch of great stuff still playing, the pick of which is Noah Baumbach’s delicious monochrome comedy Frances Ha, about a young woman (Greta Gerwig) facing an uncertain future in Brooklyn. Also recommended is Wadjda, the inspirational first ever film to be made in Saudi Arabia, Monsters University, which is bags of fun, and The Wolverine, which is less so, but nonetheless features some gripping fight scenes and ace Japanese locations. This particular reviewer didn’t get on at all with Pegg/Frost effort The World’s End, and was even less taken with killer whale eco-doc Blackfish (about which I fear people are being affected by the story and forgiving/ignoring the shoddy filmmaking). But, you pays your money etc…
If you’ve got 763 hours spare on Sunday, you could take in the gleaming restoration of ‘60s Taylor/Burton epic Cleopatra, but the real rep treat this week lies in the two weekend late screenings of Martin Scorsese’s haunting NYC-set character study Taxi Driver (1976), starring Robert de Niro as a Vietnam vet on the precipice of a haircut and a rampage. If that’s not disturbing enough, the Picturehouse’s Discover Tuesdays strand continues with Joshua Oppenheimer’s endlessly troubling doc The Act Of Killing, which picks up with the Indonesian perpetrators of unspeakable crimes half-a-decade on, and asks them to reconstruct their actions for the cameras. It’s unmissable stuff, so, um, don’t miss it!