There are four releases scheduled for Thurday 26th January (Australia Day: a holiday that most Australians take ridiculously seriously, but one I don't care for) - J. Edgar, Underworld Awakening, A Few Best Men and Weekend. The latter is one of the best films I have seen recently, but overall (mostly due to the negative responses to Eastwood's latest film), I am expecting this to be pretty weak lineup. Luckily, great films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Descendants, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Muppets, Hugo and Young Adult are still playing in cinemas - plenty to check out. Here is a quick overview of this week's releases:
J. Edgar - Clint Eastwood's new film explores the public and private life of one of the most powerful, controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th Century. As the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life. DiCaprio, I believe, gives an excellent performance (and at the time of writing, is an Oscar candidate, and on revision missing out on a nomination) but the consensus is that the film is a mess with it's through-narrative, distracts with poor make-up and is generally mediocre.
Underworld Awakening - Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warriorness Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.
A Few Best Men - A 2011 Australian comedy written by Dean Craig (Death at a Funeral) and directed by Stephan Elliot (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert). While on holiday, David (Xavier Samuel) and Mia (Laura Brent) meet and fall in love. By the end of the week, David proposes to Mia and they will be married within a few days. David travels back to England and rounds up his three best friends, and they trek to Australia for the wedding. I haven't heard much feedback. Judging by the trailer, it might have its moments.
Weekend - Weekend follows Russell (Tom Cullen, Best Actor winner at Nashville), who, after randomly picking up Glen (Chris New), an artist, at a nightclub on a Friday night, unexpectedly spends most of the next 48 hours with him in bedrooms and bars, telling stories and having sex, while developing a connection that will resonate throughout their lives. This affecting and naturalistic romance is beautifully realised, earning comparisons to Richard Linklaters Before Sunrise in its exploration of how two people can come together only briefly, yet impact each other in a profound way.
Weekly Recommendation: Weekend is worth a look, if you can track it down. Fans of Clint Eastwood, DiCaprio or those history buffs interested in a portrayal of Hoover's life will be attracted to J. Edgar, and it might not be as bad as many have claimed. I'll be checking it out.