The Best of the Rest: Film

  • The List
  • 20 August 2009
The Best of the Rest: Film

Paul Dale on the best of the rest out this autumn

There’s no more fitting tribute to the late, lamented John Hughes than Gregg Superbad Mottola and writer Jesse Eisenberg’s bittersweet tale of crappy fairgrounds, misplaced allegiances and crazy love in the late 1980s, an age seemingly before mobile phones and the ‘consume and complain’ culture. Great performances from a young cast which includes Eisenberg, the ridiculously hot Margarita Levieva and Kristen Stewart plus sublime support from older hands Ryan Reynolds and the hilarious Bill Hader (wonderfully nutty as the theme park manager) make Adventureland quite a ride. As a bonus the soundtrack featuring Lou Reed, The Replacements and Husker Dü is excellent. Out Fri 11 Sep.

Fish Tank
Andrea Arnold heads south after Red Road and brings her peculiar brand of magic realism to the kitchen sink estates of the south east of England. This withering and powerful tale of poverty, obsession and the need to dance edges Arnold in to the same league as Belgium’s much-heralded Dardenne brothers. Exceptionally fine performances from newcomer Katie Jarvis, the omnipresent Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglourious Basterds), Kierston Wareing and Harry Treadaway are key here but Arnold’s remarkably skewered eye for all things ugly and beautiful in juxtaposition is unrivalled. A rare achievement and undoubtedly one of the films of the year. Out Fri 11 Sep.

The September Issue
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour allows the cameras in to her rarefied kingdom for the first time in RJ Cutler’s illuminating and amusing documentary feature. In the lead up to the publication of the bumper Autumn 2008 fashion issue, Wintour gave Cutler and his small crew unlimited access to every level of the preparation. Part car crash and part corrective on the image of a cultural ogre, Cutler’s film is a must for fashionistas and fans of Ugly Betty. Out Fri 11 sep.

Three Miles North of Molkom

Let’s go New Age. Hardcore New Age. Robert Cannan and Corinna McFarlane’s fascinating documentary debut visits the Sweden’s annual Angsbacka No Mind Festival. Dynamic meditation, shamanism, tantric sex workshops and a whole lot of other things to make your average Brit blush are the order of the day here and we share this remarkable journey of inner discovery with the cynics and the believers. See feature in next issue. Out Fri 18 Sep.

The Soloist
Pride and Prejudice and Atonement director Joe Wright’s new film is an adaptation of LA journalist Steve Lopez’ semi autobiographical book about a story hungry journalist who befriends a homeless Julliard trained musician. Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx star (guess who plays who) and Erin Brokovich screenwriter Susannah Grant works hard to keep this thin tale just the right side of mawkish. This is the kind of film that sweeps the Academy Award for no particularly good reason other than Americans love a redemptive hard luck story. Out Fri 25 Sep.

The Invention of Lying

Ricky Gervais continues his ingenious if not particularly successful campaign to win the hearts and minds of our American friends with this clever and funny alternative universe comedy. Set in a world where no one has ever lied, a struggling writer realises he can use it for personal gain. Combining the charm of early Ealing comedies with the wordy frenetics of Preston Sturges’ wackier comedies, The Invention of Lying could well be a future family classic. Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Patrick Stewart, Tina Fey and Rob Lowe are amongst the high profile cast and clearly had a ball making the film. Out Fri 2 Oct.

Katalin Varga

Part classic revenge story, part road movie Peter Strickland’s directorial debut is poetic cinema at it’s most cultish and rich. The unsettling story explores what happens when single mum Katalin (Hilda Péter) moves in with her erstwhile rapist who now lives in quiet diligence to his wife. What unfolds is something both haunting and elementally shocking. Full of literary and mythical allusion and controlled atmospherics this excellent Romanian/Hungarian and British co-production marks the arrival of an intuitive and clearly gifted talent. Out Fri 9 Oct.

Pontypool Bruce
The Tracey Fragments McDonald’s unpredictable Canadian chiller has got to be one of the year’s best horrors. On one seemingly normal winter’s day Ontario shock-jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) goes on air to present his morning phone-in radio show from a studio in the basement of the town’s church. But amidst the minor news items he receives reports of local people committing acts of horrific violence. Is it true or is it a hoax? Mazzy and his crew must decide. Pontypool has been accurately described as like a cross between Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio and John Carpenter’s The Fog, McDonald refreshingly uses claustrophobia and implied threat in place of elaborate special effects. Out Fri 16 Oct.

The Fantastic Mr Fox

Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited) returns with a tale of the unexpected. His animated feature version of Roald Dahl’s much beloved children’s book reaches the screen courtesy of great voiceover work from Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman plus Hollywood hitters Meryl Streep and George Clooney. Funny, silly and faithful to the book this is fun in that way that only great caper movies can be. The stop frame animation is excellent too. Out Fri 23 Oct.


Erstwhile Scottish based filmmaker David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Hallam Foe) kicks off his US career with this fascinating update of Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo with Ashton Kutcher as a self-centred toyboy to the rich women of LA. Jason Dean Hall’s screenplay based on his own short story goes off the boil towards the end with Kutcher’s Nikki getting both his comeuppance and cheesy epiphany in a horrible montage sequence but there is plenty to enjoy along the way. Anne Heche as sugar mummy Samantha is fantastic. Give this lady a gong. Out Fri 27 Nov.

James Cameron’s Avatar (3D)
James Titanic Cameron’s long awaited super budgeted IMAX 3D sci-fi thriller finally arrives. Set in the future, Avatar is the story of paraplegic war veteran Jake (Sam Worthington) who finds himself among a group transported to the planet Pandora, home of a humanoid race the Na’vi who have their own language and culture. The trouble is Jake can’t work out who he hates more, the Earth people there or the locals. Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Roderiguez, CCH Pounder and a whole load of special effects also star. Less a film than a media event. Out Fri 18 Dec.

Sherlock Holmes
Want to see what Jude Law was doing when he wasn’t impregnating aspiring US actresses and models? Guy Ritchie’s take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s smartypants detective keeps things in period and has some very inventive casting, not least Robert Downey Jr as the titular character and James Fox as a knight of the realm. Rachel MacAdams provides the mystery and the love interest and Law, workaholic support actor Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly and Eddie Marsan busy themselves in support roles. The jury is still out but this could be a long overdue Christmas hit for the post ‘Madge’ Ritchie. Out Sat 26 Dec.

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