Well, it had to happen eventually: for the first time since we've been doing this Friday Film News thing one film has scored 5 stars from all three national broadsheet reviewers (Times, Guardian and Independent).
Of course that film is Alexander Payne's, five times Oscar nominated film Sideways. So of course we're excited about going to see it, but we're just as excited about reading Peter Bradshaw's review in the Guardian. Because, as you should know by now, when Pete hates a film he really really hates it, but when he loves a film...well there's no telling what he'll do (although we're not ruling out attempted molestation of the projectionist).
In this instance Pete gets pretty biblical, suggesting that Sideways is "An occasion for the singing of hosannas from the roof of every cinema..." (we should say that parental supervision is suggested for very young children singing hosannas from roofs of large multiplexes) and that the film is "paced and constructed with such understated mastery that it is a sort of miracle."
You see that's a trick that Jesus missed: he turned the water into wine but didn't get as far as making a feature film about middle aged blokes who drink the stuff.
But Pete's most poetic and overblown statement has to be:
"Audiences at the screenings where I have been present may have heard something like a fusillade of gunshots from the auditorium; it was the sound of my heart breaking into a thousand pieces."
Beautiful Pete. Just beautiful.
In the slightly less emotional Independent Anthony Quinn can't resist a few wine tasting analogies to sum up the brilliance of the film: "Sideways shows the hallmarks of a great vintage but should really be gulped down straight away." (what? No hosannas?) while in The Times James Christopher compares the film to the work of Thomas Vinterber ("I haven’t seen a screen comedy mint so much agony from crushed expectations since Festen.") before claiming that Sideways is "one of the few Oscar nominees I could happily sit through again. And again."
Now we couldn't look at this weeks' releases without taking a glance at Christopher Smith horror flick Creep.You see Creep is set in the London Underground and we're a website about London so we have to mention it even though it looks pretty naff and the critics seem to dislike it quite a bit.
In the Independent Quinn calls the film " the worst advert for London Underground since Death Line uncovered grisly goings-on beneath Russell Square in 1972.". Death Line eh? We might have to look that one up. It's only two stars from Quinn though and Creep gets the same score from Bradshaw in the Guardian who likes the idea of the film but not necessarily the execution (and also manages to sneak in a dig at the Northern Line for good measure):
"The unending horror-show that is the London Underground tube system is still an under-used resource for splatter pictures, which is why this strange Anglo-German co-production grabs the attention - for a while at any rate. It implies - if I have got this right - that there is a direct connection between the London tube's justly notorious Northern line and the stinkiest sewer tunnels and also a secret but semi-disused subterranean hospital lab for experimenting on children. Eeeeuuuwww. Those of us who have to travel on the Northern line have suspected as much for years.
In the Times James Christopher is a little more generous, awarding Creep three stars because it "opens an unusual and fascinating window on the sewers and bizarre landscape lurking under London."
Do you think maybe James thought the film was real...It's not real is it? Maybe we'll get the bus from now on, just to be safe.
Finally for this week, one of the films Londonist was most looking forward to for 2005: Meet The Fockers. Unfortunately, if you believe the critics it seems Ben Stiller may have caught a touch of sequel-itis...
Peter Bradshaw only has two stars for the film and seems to think the only highlight is a swift appearance by Owen Wilson: "Owen Wilson's brief cameo return as the ex-boyfriend-turned-interfaith-priest only reminds us of what we have been missing when he hasn't been around."
Interfaith Priest? Damn, now we're going to have to go and see it just for that bit.
And it gets worse, Anthony Quinn thinks that the film only merits one star in his review, which can be summed up with the opening sentence: "You'll wish you hadn't."
Finally, there's a glimmer of hope with James Christopher over at the Times. Christopher awards Meet The Fockers three stars but then unnerves us slightly by calling Dustin Hoffman "48 inches of vintage dance-floor groove".
To quote Peter Bradshaw: "Eeeeuuuwww."
In films news this week, the the 'opening crawl' (the back-story text which floats away into space) form Revenge of the Sith has been released. Lots of talk about 'separatist droids' and 'leaders of the galactic senate'...it's all beyond us.
And staying with Sci-Fi, it looks like the action figures to accompany the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide film have been released. We especially like the plush Marvin one.
Evidence that film studios are getting increasingly paranoid about 'spoilers': Bobby De Niro's latest flick is being sent out to theatres without the final reel.
And, in slightly more highbrow territory, it looks like Robert 'Polar Express' Zemeckis is going to helm the adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. If Tom Hanks is in it we'll cry.
Trailer of the week: Tim Burtons' Corpse Bride.