Much like last time out, there’s fairly slim pickens out this weekend as the studios undoubtedly see the danger of releasing any of their movies during TDKR’s first few weeks. Their blockbusters would have to share the market with a more powerful rival, and their mid-range major movies would simply be buried. As such, there are a fair number of smaller movies hoping to capture a decent market share from the art house crowd but there’s only the one major release this week and that’s family friendly animated comedy The Lorax. Dr Seuss’s childhood story is a bright, colourful and zaney as one might expect and it should fair pretty well at the box office as families who have already seen Ice Age 4 seek another viable cinematic outing.
Also out this week is music documentary Searching for Sugar Man, cooking documentary Eli Bulli: Cooking in Progress and crime thriller The Man Inside.
If you want to check to see if any of these films are playing near you, you can visit Find Any Film and they’ll be able to help.
Searching for Sugar man *Pick of the Week*
This fascinating documentary charting the true story of forgotten ’70s rock star Rodriquez, has been released to rave reviews. Rodriguez was discovered in a Detroit bar by two music producers who touted him as the next big thing and hyped his debut album, tipping him as the next Bob Dylan. However when the album unexpectedly tanked and Rodriguez failed to become the icon they expected him to become, he faded into obscurity and rumours were abound that he had committed suicide. A bootleg copy of his album found its way into apartheid era South Africa and Rodriguez became an unlikely phenomenon in the country. The film follows two South African fans who seek to discover what became of their musical hero and the truth would appear to be even stranger than many of the myths which built up over time.
Critics have praised not only the relatively little known music of Rodriguez which plays throughout the doc, but also the films fascinating subject matter which can’t help but lure you in. The story of what really happened to Rodriguez is apparently incredible to watch and whether you’re a music fan or not it would appear to be a genuinely warm and intriguing tale.
You can read Stefan Pape’s interview with the film’s director and indeed Rodriguez himself, here.
For those unfamiliar with Dr Seuss’ story of The Lorax the plot is thus, a young boy called Ted lives in a town where everything, including the grass and plants, is made of plastic. In order to impress a girl called Audrey who dreams of one day seeing a real life tree, he sets off on an adventure to find what happened to the flora and fauna. Along the way he runs into a pint-sized and moustachioed defender of nature called The Lorax who doesn’t take kindly to humans intruding on his turf. Ted soon comes to learn that The Lorax is perhaps wise to distrust mankind over its treatment of nature.
Reviews have been fairly mixed for The Lorax thus far with the majority of critics arguing it is un-engaging and struggles to hammer home the environment message of Seuss’ original story, while others are slightly more kind and suggest there is a degree of charm and warmth in there. Several have made the point that for a film which is based on a story of anti-capitalism and the dangers of consumerism, its remarkably guilty of being shamelessly generic and watered down to ensure mass appeal.
Historically Dr Seuss’ whimsical stories haven’t always translated well into feature-length movies with both How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat being critically panned, while Horton Hears a Hoo faired marginally better. The Lorax would seemingly be set to continue this trend but at the same time there may be enough colour and silly humour there to entertain younger kids and as flawed as it may be it is a fairly inoffensive option for a family cinema visit.
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
A second documentary hitting screens this week focuses on legendary Spanish chef Ferran Adria. His world-famous El Bulli restaurant is often touted as one of the best in the world and for 6 months of the year, the chef closes the restaurant’s doors and works with his team to develop the upcoming menu for its much anticipated open season. This documentary covers 15 months of behind the scenes footage and is an absolute must-see for any foodies out there giving as it does unprecedented coverage of the restaurants culinary master at work. For the rest of us it may prove a little testing as it is low on interviews and explanation and high on footage of cooking in action. Observational rather than educational, it’s possibly one for enthusiasts only and thus is this week’s Marmite movie of the week.
Woman in a Dressing gown
This relatively little known British drama from 1957 has received plenty of critical acclaim and would appear to be a forgotten classic of sorts. The story revolves around the sexual politics of the 1950’s, a different time and place where a woman’s place was in the home. Amy and Jim Preston have been married for twenty years but in Jim’s eyes, Amy has become sloppy around the home and has let her appearance go. He decides to take up with a younger and prettier girl from his work but soon has a crisis of conscience and isn’t sure he can leave his wife and teenage son behind. It’s a film very much of its time but nonetheless offers an intriguing glimpse at a very different age and is above all a hard-hitting emotional drama.
Another re-release this week is Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 drama. The film follows Guiliana, a housewife married to the manager of a nearby factory plant which pollutes the local water supply. Guiliana suffers from a mental illness but hides her affliction from her husband just like those around her turn their heads and ignore that she has a problem. She begins a heated affair with Zeller (Richard Harris) an engineer visiting the area who seems to understand what Guiilian wants from her life. While Guiliana appears to be dealing with her inner pain and torment, she also appears to be as alienated and alone as ever as events unfold. It’s renowned for being a beautiful and visually stunning piece of work and critics have been fairly unanimous in praising Antonioni’s masterpiece. Dripping in melancholy and sorrow and laced with a great intensity, it’s well worth seeking out for all cinephiles.
The Man Inside
This UK crime drama follows a young boxer called Clayton Murdoch whose father introduced him to a life of gang culture and who struggles to escape the everyday violence and crime which surrounds him. Clayton tries to channel his aggression into his boxing but when his family becomes threatened by the life of violence which engulfs their neighbourhood, Clayton finds it difficult to not let the darkness overcome him and his intense inner fury seems set to tear his life apart. It’s certainly a hard-hitting and uncompromising story but the majority of critics haven’t been too kind towards it thus far. Nevertheless, there is a small number who have praised its ambition and impact and it has the great Peter Mullan involved who is always good value for money. Perhaps one worth seeing and making up your own mind.
Jon Lyus says:
It would be good to see The Man Inside get a look in here in the UK, I’ve only heard good things about it and there’s a real wealth of talent involved. Fingers crossed this one gets a decent audience.