In a blockbuster world of multi-million dollar effects and soulless scripts, the character driven drama sometimes looks to be floundering. Not here as a famous painter and an unscrupulous media man go head to head for film of the week (the painter wins but its close). If you can tear your eyes away, Harry Potter appears to have forsaken the side of good and Japan’s premier giant monster pops back up on DVD as well.
Who needs magic to bring paintings to life when you have Mike Leigh and Timothy Spall? Mr. Turner, released to much acclaim at Cannes earlier in the year, finally arrives across the country and proves the wait has been worth it. Following the latter half of J.M.W. Turner’s life, Leigh rolls through relationships with his family, the ruling classes and his colleagues, while managing to capture the world as Turner might have seen it. The real ace is Spall though, turning in a career best performance stuffed full of growling, guttural sounds and well-masked vulnerability.
If you look back over his career, it quickly becomes apparent that Jake Gyllenhaal has one of the most impressive CVs of any American actor over the last decade. There’s no sign of diminishment with Nightcrawler, the debut feature from writer/director Dan Gilroy – also a family affair with one brother (Tony) producing, another (John) editing, and his wife (Rene Russo) co-starring. Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is one of the most fascinatingly sinister characters to appear on screen in a long time as he embarks on a career filming accident and crime scenes and selling the footage to news stations. In no time, he’s orchestrating events to get the best possible footage. Sleek and seedy, it’s a dark-hearted delight.
What would you do if your loved one died mysteriously and you found strange protrusions sprouting from your forehead? The horns, for want of a better word, may give you startling new powers, but you’ll also quickly become the prime suspect in the aforementioned death. If this situation sounds familiar, and you’re looking for guidance, you could always watch Horns. Alexandre Aja’s Canadian fantasy horror arrives just in time for Halloween, complete with one Daniel Radcliffe in the unfortunate lead role. We’re a long way from Hogwarts now.
If the week’s cinema offerings are on too small a scale for you, city smashing action appears on DVD in the form of Godzilla. Gareth Edwards’ first foray into big budget filmmaking brought healthy profits and decent reviews as alpha predator Godzilla returns to take down an even greater threat. Doing what it can to banish the memories of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 misfire, Edwards holds back the star attraction just long enough to maximise the impact when the great beast finally arrives. If this is a new franchise, we’re off to a good start.
So that’s what Halloween has to offer. See you next week where there’s only one word you need to remember – Interstellar!