Adventures In Cinema: January 2014
Welcome to Kinnemaniac’s new regular monthly column, offering short reviews of every new film seen at the cinema during any given month. This will be updated after every cinema visit for an ongoing summary of what’s worth seeing on the big-screen.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Ferrell and co. jump from cult original to blockbuster sequel by doing the same as always: throw everything at the screen and hope it sticks. The result is noticeably bigger, undoubtedly messier and rewards Steve Carell’s breakout turn in the original at the expense of his co-stars, but it’s no less funnier when it hits the mark. HIGHLIGHT: Champ Kind’s fast food restaurant, where the house speciality is ‘chicken-in-a-cave.’
David O. Russell is fast becoming Hollywood’s most interesting director: half-Cassevetes, half-Capra. Like Cassavetes, he encourages freewheeling, improvised performances from an amazing repertory company (Christan Bale, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are all on fire); yet like Capra, the end result delivers a satisfying high of feelgood entertainment. HIGHLIGHT: The running battle between Bradley Cooper’s FBI agent and his boss (Louis C.K); the kind of superfluous subplot most directors would cut, but which enhances this film’s manic intensity.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Jennifer Lawrence again, proving she’s still just as adept playing with a bow and arrow as lining her shelves with awards. Surer in its storytelling and surprisingly strident in its revolutionary politics, this is not only a superior sequel but a modern blockbuster with guts, intelligence and real-world resonance. HIGHLIGHT: Lawrence’s eminently GIF-able moue of disapproval when Katniss is upstaged by a naked Johanna Mason (Jenna Malone).
12 Years A Slave
Too cold and brutal, and this would be yet another under-seen masterpiece; too showy and sentimental, then McQueen himself could be accused of selling out to the mainstream. The miracle is that McQueen steers his film with smartness and surety to achieve an awful, sober clarity about the awful realities of slavery. HIGHLIGHT: Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is left hanging – and so are we, in an agonisingly protracted long take that makes you feel every second.
The Wolf Of Wall Street
At once another of Martin Scorsese’s anthropological studies of a New York subculture and one of his dark-hearted character studies about a crazy, dangerous guy trying to prove that if he can make it there, he’ll make it anywhere. Hilarious stuff – until you realise it’s true. HIGHLIGHT: A never-better Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a masterclass in slapstick charting the kind of drug high that would have knocked the stuffing even out of Hunter S. Thompson.
Thanks to Showcase Cinemas.
Tagged 2014 films