By Ashley Clark
From Johnny Depp in face paint to sieges in Norwich and lost love in Hong Kong, South London’s best cinema has it covered.
The big controversy in movie-land (well, critic-land) this week has arisen over accusations from the cast of Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger, in particular Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, that the critics have pursued a vicious agenda against the film. “I think the reviews were written seven to eight months before we released the film”, groused Depp, while Hammer complained “They’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time”, referring to its well-documented production problems. The big-budget action-comedy was a huge commercial and critical flop Stateside, but is gathering vociferous support in the UK among some prominent reviewers, who have praised its energy and personality. This particular critic has yet to see it, but, quite frankly, isn’t especially tempted by the prospect of spending two-and-a-half hours in the company of a furiously mugging Depp (he’s playing Tonto here).
Other than the above, it’s a fairly quiet week for new releases, which means you can catch up with the best of what’s still playing. This includes: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which finds Norfolk’s least self-aware DJ (played by Steve Coogan) embroiled in a comedic siege situation; Noah Baumbach’s glorious monochrome comedy Frances Ha, featuring a winning turn from Greta Gerwig as the titular late-20s dreamer; and James Wan’s terrifying paranormal shocker The Conjuring. In Monsters University, From Up On Poppy Hill, and Despicable Me 2, there’s a solid range of child-friendly feature animation up for grabs. However, I couldn’t possibly recommend the following: Pegg/Frost comedy The World’s End (which, after an intriguing opening, takes a thoroughly ill-advised turn into high-concept horror territory), the upsetting but shonkily-made anti-SeaWorld doc Blackfish, or Nicolas Winding Refn’s unashamedly pornographic, and pretty terrible Only God Forgives, which is less a car crash than a slow-motion monorail prang. Gosling needs to get out of that creative partnership sharpish.
Much of the real joy to be had at the Ritzy this week is to be found in the rep programming. There are Friday and Saturday lates of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai’s languorous, gorgeous meditation on frustrated romance, In The Mood For Love, and a Monday afternoon screening of Joseph Sargent’s ace, rough-hewn 70s thriller The Taking of Pelham 123 (it’s about a million times better than the remake). Look out for returns for currently sold-out exhibition live film David Bowie Is Happening Now. Finally, a top special event alert: a screening of moving Turkish drama, Kuma, is happening on Wednesday, along with a Q&A with director Umut Dag. Don’t miss!