By Ashley Clark
Bloody, brutal slave revenge, a bloody, brutal horror anthology and miserable French people, again. A harrowing – but unmissable – week at south London’s best cinema.
Days after Quentin Tarantino vociferously shut down Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s butt on Channel 4 News comes the film that prompted such heated discussion. Yep, it’s the epically violent slave revenge drama Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s an enjoyable, shocking fantasy in the vein of Inglorious Basterds, but it’s divided critics and upset some. Director Spike Lee, for example, has flat-out refused to see it, claiming that it’s offensive to his ancestors. But why don’t you find out for yourselves? By the way, Tarantino’s script (“The ‘D’ is silent, hillbilly!”) also seems to have taken a leaf out of the book of 80’s Jersey-set cop show Bergerac (“The ‘g’ is the only thing that’s soft”). Bonus points from me.
Also new is horror anthology V/H/S, featuring a series of found-footage (the genre which The Blair Witch Project kicked off) shorts written and directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and the directing quartet known as Radio Silence. It’s gruesome, smart, scary and funny in places, but perhaps something of an acquired taste.
Wailing its way into a second week is Tom Hooper’s tragimusical Les Misérables. In dereliction of my duties as a film critic, I’ve decided I’m probably going to give this one a swerve, so I can’t give my opinion as to whether it’s any good or not. What I can do is tell you that it’s doing some serious cleaning up at the UK box office, and that it’s been the subject of an hilarious faux-news segment from the US satirists The Onion.
Other films continuing their runs include the stylish but disappointing Gangster Squad, Lenny Abrahamson’s haunting What Richard Did, Dustin Hoffman’s enjoyable grey pound-grabber Quartet; J.A. Bayona’s tsunami disasterpiece The Impossible; Ang Lee’s visually spectacular novel adaptation Life of Pi; Peter Jackson’s long-winded The Hobbit; and, still (still!) Martin McDonagh’s painfully self-involved postmodern thriller Seven Psychopaths.
There’s also – as ever – some top rep stuff going on down Ritzy way. Marking the release of Django Unchained, the Ritzy’s We Heart Tarantino season continues with a Saturday evening double-bill screening of the Kill Bill films – a particularly violent way to spend the best part of five hours. And you’d have to be crazy to miss the Friday-night late screening of Amy Heckerling’s wondrous teen flick Clueless.
Meanwhile, the Picturehouse’s Discover Tuesdays strand continues with False Trail, a tense, violent and fun Scandinavian thriller along the lines of Headhunters and Jackpot, which follows a veteran detective Erik (Lassgård) as he returns to his hometown in rural Sweden to investigate a brutal murder. There’s also another chance to see Lauren Greenfield’s astonishing stranger-than-fiction financial crash doc The Queen of Versailles… but this time with a special Q&A appearance by the inimitable “queen”, Jackie Siegel, herself! That’s on Thursday 22 and tickets are selling fast, so don’t hang about!