The weekly round up of film reviews continues, courtesy of James Bryan...
As Bond mania dies down some more interesting films get a look in this week. We’ve got the universally praised Waltz With Bashir, the interesting flawed Blindness and the predictably loud Body of Lies.
Without question, the film of the week is Waltz With Bashir. The Guardian (4-star) describes is as an “extraordinary animated documentary by Israeli film-maker Ari Folman – a kind of fictionalised docu-autobiograpy” following him as pieces together his memories of the First Lebanon War in 1982. The Independent (4-stars) says that “it’s not only the film's animated format that sets it apart, though the graphic precision is a key to its originality. Waltz With Bashir is a lesson in the persistence of memory, a particular memory Folman believed he had lost but was actually lying in wait, like a corpse in a frozen pond.” The Times (4-star) calls it the “most striking, unnervingly beautiful films to explore the horrors of war since Apocalypse Now.” Empire’s 5-star review says that this is “astonishing, unforgettable: you have to see it.”
Blindness tells the story of a contagious global outbreak of sightlessness. Adapted from José Saramago book and directed by Fernando Meirelles who made the phenomenal City of God, the critics’ opinions are split. The Independent is in the haters camp (1-star) saying that “the film purports to examine the outer limits of humanity – the one or the many, the self or the greater good? – but presses the allegory so hard as to choke the life out of it”. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian disagrees completely (4-stars) finding this an “intelligent, tightly constructed, supremely confident adaptation.” The Times (3-star) says it’s a “heavy handed metaphor, and it's not a whole lot of fun, but the technical accomplishment of this film is remarkable.”
Body of Lies is Ridley Scott by-the-numbers; stunning visuals, paper thin characters, an air of self-importance and very little substance. The Guardian (2-star) thinks it is “big and bombastic, confused and irritable – a 20th-century blockbuster struggling to adapt (too little, too late) to a 21st-century terrain.” The film stars Russell Crowe as a CIA boss, “looking more like the manager of a call-centre than a master of the dark arts” and his agent Leonardo Di Caprio as “an arrogant little turd” (as both described in The Independent's 1-star review). The Times (3-star) finds that “the film limps along in the story department… the romance is weak, and when the plot finally kicks in – well over the halfway mark – the promising conceit doesn't go anywhere interesting.” The Independent reckons it is “just another opportunity for Scott and co to blow stuff up.”
Choke gets generally rubbish reviews. It wants to be a satirically clever sex comedy (and is based on the book by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk). The Times (1-star) calls it “bottom shelf nonsense”; The Guardian (3-star) is kinder saying that “for all its flaws and fumbles there is a certain guilty pleasure”.
Next week Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-baiting Changeling with Angelina Jolie.
By James Bryan