This is the morning after the night before. After binging on high-quality cinema last week, we now awake feeling somewhat the worse for wear, facing a much less impressive slate of releases. Still, being able to lead off with the return of one of Britain’s most accomplished filmmakers suggests there’s enough out there to warrant a watch.
Terence Davies’ films are an infrequent treat. There have been three this millennium before he decided to adapt Scottish author Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic novel Sunset Song. Agyness Deyn, establishing her position in the front group of emerging British actors, takes on the lead as a turn of the twentieth century farmer who has to overcome a violent father and devastating World War while managing to eke a living off hard earth. The film, cast in golden colours, is overpoweringly beautiful, and while it falls down on pacing, it’s still an impressive achievement.
Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum, James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in Victor Frankenstein, a mid-budget journey into the infamous scientist’s life told through the eyes of trusty servant Igor. McAvoy plays the titular anti-hero, creator of everyone’s favourite monster, while Radcliffe steps into Igor’s odd-sized shoes. It’s fair to say Paul McGuigan’s film has not received much love from the critics but if you want a break from awards fare and Xmas themed films, there isn’t much else available.
Rounding off cinema releases comes a new Seth Rogen film. Christmas starts in earnest in The Night Before, a broad comedy about a trio of friends – Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie – who meet every Christmas Eve for a blow-out party. This time is the last time so it has to be a big one. Mixed reviews suggest a tepid end to a not particularly strong year for Rogen. At least the small number of people who watched Steve Jobs seemed to like it.
Everything about the build-up to Ant-Man suggested Marvel had a colossal mess on their hands. With Edgar Wright shown the door, replaced by Peyton Reed, excitement began to ebb. The end result, out now on DVD, is a mess, mostly in a good way. It’s chaotic fun as Paul Rudd, an inspired piece of casting, steps up from a career of petty crime to don a magical shrinking suit. It gets painfully conventional in the final third, but there’s not so much damage it undoes all the good before.
That brings a quieter week to a close. See you next time when Angelina and Brad keep it in the family.