Nominations for BAFTA 2010 are in, and it’s a pretty mixed bag. Despite the much-hyped domination of James Cameron’s Avatar for a million trillion weeks running at the box office, the epic is sharing its lead position of eight nominations with two other films – acclaimed drama The Hurt Locker and 2009’s standout British work An Education.
It’s nice when documentary filmmakers come up with new angles to the ‘poor underdog’ theme. Since the genre first became commercial enough for cinema release, we’ve had our heartstrings pulled every which way, to the point where the concept’s getting old. But Joe Berlinger’s new release Crude, which centres around a class action by a group of Ecuadorian tribes against a US oil giant, manages to raise some unusually interesting points about the nature of the environmentalist movement and just who is right and wrong in a case like this.
The British talent for satire is brilliantly displayed in In the Loop. This film spin-off from the BBC series The Thick of It chronicles the life and times of several US and UK government figureheads in the days before the invasion of Iraq. The cracking script and brilliant cast keep the laughs coming hard and fast, while director Armando Iannucci’s hand-held camera techniques create an almost uncomfortably close-to-the-bone sense of realism. If you missed this film at the cinema, it’s well worth grabbing on DVD for the best laughs you’ve had in ages and one-liners you’ll be repeating for weeks.
You could be forgiven for thinking this film was another brutal gangster flick. But despite the somewhat misleading title and dramatic black and white posters currently lining tube stations to promote its release, it’s actually as for from the shoot-em-up genre as you can get.
Paramount is going ahead with a Paranormal Activity sequel. Seemingly deaf to the film world’s exclamations that the only reason why the first one worked was because it had a 50 quid budget and wasn’t at all commercialised, the studio now has a definite director attached to the sequel, and plans to release it just before Halloween 2011.
Blur was responsible for our generation’s initiation into British rock music. That’s why many nostalgic Gen X’s and Y’s will go to see this new documentary that chronicles the band’s rise and fall and their temporary reunion for a series of tour dates in 2009. It’s a little hero-worshippy, but charmingly filled with ’90s Britpop nostalgia and the concert scenes are brilliantly shot. A worthy tribute to the band that began our musical education.
The last Monday in January is officially recognised as the most depressing day of the year. This year, the day psychologists have nicknamed “Blue Monday” falls on January 25th, which unfortunately is shuffling ever closer. There’s only one thing to do – take to the sofa with a carton of Ben and Jerry’s and some good old-fashioned escapism. Here we present you with the best fictional film characters to live vicariously through when the fateful day arrives.
We’re pleased to report that Up in the Air lives up to its press. This romance-comedy-drama from Juno director Jason Reitman is intelligent, soulful, keeps you laughing, keeps you guessing, and leaves you with that lump-in-your-throat feeling that you’ve experienced a truly lovely moment in cinema. Clooney’s emotionally detached jetsetter is perfectly (and surprisingly) matched by Twilight newcomer Anna Kendrick, and Reitman’s narrative expertly weaves witty comedy into beautiful moments of poignancy. If you only see one film this month, make it this one.
K. Selvaraghavan is Tamil cinema’s answer to James Cameron. His action-packed epic Aayirathil Oruvan (in English, ‘One Man in One Thousand’) generated a similar buzz to Avatar prior to release in its home country of India, and now after a record-breaking international rights deal, the film has landed in the UK. The over-the-top goings-on can be a bit exhausting, but visually, the film holds its own against any Hollywood adventure epic.