This week - A look into the murky London underworld (London to Brighton) and a hardcore sex comedy, (Shortbus).
Bradshaw gives London to Brighton a stonking 5/5, describing it as "cracking" with "enough clout to kick the door in". There are "outstanding performances" from the whole cast - the film is "a 120-degree proof thriller, with storytelling nous and technical flair: it's the best British film of the year."
Quinn at the Independent also gives it 5/5, calling it a "movie out of the top drawer". Quinn also applauds the performances, describing them as, "so intense they almost burst from the screen". He also appreciates the fact that its,
portrait of criminal-class London isn't the exaggerated one of colourful geezers and garrulous mockney dialogue; it's a resolutely downbeat world of poky caffs and boarded-up shopfronts.
What seems remarkable about this film is that it was made on a budget of £80,000, "roughly what a studio film would spend on the crew's tea and bacon sarnies." Apparently Williams "wrote his script over a weekend, borrowed the money from private investors and shot it over 19 days, using friends' houses and locations that mostly cost nothing."
Ide at the Times gives it 4/5, writing,
The opening sequence of London to Brighton tells you that the debut feature by the British writer/director Paul Andrew Williams is something pretty special.
She gives special praise to, "Lorraine Stanley, a formidable newcomer who, on the strength of this performance, should soon be on our screens non-stop."
It's a "lean, taut thriller" and "a blistering debut."
Next up, the most explicit movie to win a general release in the UK, Shortbus.
Bradshaw gives it 3/5
There is a theory that for every event in the universe, some other, equal-and-opposite event is taking place. For every oak tree chopped down, somewhere an acorn is planted. For every imploding planet, a shooting star. And at the very instant Richard Curtis completed the script for his cutesy romcom Love, Actually, film-maker John Cameron Mitchell was hunched over his MacBook Pro, cackling devilishly and hitting the final full-stop key on his outrageous hardcore sex comedy Shortbus.
Poetry! Without wanting to give away the plot we've handpicked a few tasters from the review to wet your whistle, so to speak -
A supple young man bending double and giving himself a blowjob
A trio of gay men have a three-way which involves the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner into an anus
A dominatrix eliciting a customer's splattering climax
Mitchell was obviously lurking somewhere inconspicuous with a notepad during last year's Londonist Staff Christmas party....
Comparing it to other sex films, Bradshaw writes that it is,
far wilder and cheekier than something like Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs or Patrice Chéreau's Intimacy, or Catherine Breillat's Anatomy of Hell, because it had what these estimable films did not - a sense of humour.
Christopher at the Times gives it 2/5 writing that "the surprise is not the spicy pornography, but the disconcerting sweetness of the script and cast." However,
The intimacy of the relationships puts a cold douche of reality on the screen voyeurism. Mitchell’s mostly gay cast are people who have lost or never found the confidence to “feel”. The undiluted whimsy is intolerable.
The Independent also gave it 2/5. Quinn begins with a joke,
Shortbus is just like a London bus: three come at once.
He describes the characters as, "the kind of self-absorbed urbanites Woody Allen used to satirise", unfortunately here they are "mostly naked and not as funny." Quinn could have "done with a lot less of the narcissists, navel-gazers and nincompoops that make up this libidinous babble-on."
Other films out this week - Big Nothing (A frustrated former teacher is driven to join forces with a friend in a blackmail scheme, only to see it backfire.), Flushed Away (A posh mouse gets flushed down into the sewers of London, where he meets an enterprising scavenger.), Stranger Than Fiction (A tax accountant discovers that he is actually the creation of a novelist, and worse still, that she wants to kill his character off.)
Trailer of the week - Curse of the Golden Flower