All films are showing at the Odeon Cinehall (piazza Strozzi). Dates are subject to change. Check for program changes on the Odeon website.
ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST **
Andrea di Stefano’s debut movie has Benicio del Toro as the world’s most notorious drug lord as one of its protagonists, and has all the makings of a useful insight into Escobar’s modus operandi and Colombia’s drug trade. Instead it is a routine unilluminating and somewhat unfocussed thriller. ‘It’s an impressive debut, an ambitious project pulled off with confidence’ (Hollywood Reporter). ‘Everyone in the theatre is thinking: Given that I paid good money to learn about the world’s most frightening cocaine king, why am I watching a movie about the world’s most stupid Canadian?’ (New Yorker). ‘Nick [the stupid Canadian] might usurp most of the screen time, but it’s Mr. Del Toro, face flickering from benevolent to vicious and body heaving with literal and symbolic weight, who seizes the film’ (New York Times). ‘Benicio Del Toro’s performance is showy, a great actor’s parade of indulgences that occasionally sets the deranged camp tone that should have been the narrative’s starting point’ (Slant).
JASON BOURNE ****
You know his name. Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass team up again for the latest instalment of the Bourne franchise, Damon having been lured back after declining the previous outing. ‘I remember. I remember everything…’ he says. And the CIA never forgets. ‘Made with a palpable sense of urgency, this tense, propulsive motion picture is a model of what mainstream entertainment can be like when everything goes right’ (Los Angeles Times). ‘Through it all, Damon keeps us glued to the war going on inside Bourne’s head. It’s a brilliantly implosive performance; he owns the role and the movie. It’s a tense, twisty mindbender anchored by something no computer can generate: soul’ (Rolling Stone). ‘This explosive reunion between Damon and director Paul Greengrass further reveals key secrets about Bourne’s origins, bringing its lethal protagonist as close as he’s ever likely to get to total recall’ (Variety).’ Greengrass is as dexterous as ever, yet the result, though abounding in thrills, seems oddly stifled by self-consciousness and, dare one say, superfluous. Come on, guys. There are so many wrongs in the world. If Bourne could tear himself away from the mirror for a moment, could he not be persuaded to go and right them?’ (New Yorker). ‘Simultaneously pretentious, mind-numbingly tedious, and dizzyingly incoherent from scene to scene, Jason Bourne is the definition of diminishing returns’ (The Film Stage).
THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS ***
The band you know. The story you don’t. For fans of the Fab Four Ron Howard delivers an exciting, if not very revelatory, compilation documentary of found footage featuring music, interviews and the stories of the Beatles’ 250 concerts from 1963 to 1966. ‘We get just enough about the rigors of meeting the public’s demand for new records to explain what a whirlwind of work the years 1964-1966 were for these young men, making their decision to retreat easy to understand’ (Hollywood Reporter). ‘It’s the touring, after all, that is the focus here. In addition to the customary wealth of excerpted concert footage — as pristinely presented here as technology will permit — and newsreel flashes of travels from Manila to San Francisco, the film offers a few thoughtful insights on the formerly club-playing band’s swift evolution into a trailblazing stadium act’ (Variety). ‘Award-winning editor Paul Crowder proves his mettle with a fluid assembly of footage which runs the gamut of quality and scope, providing multiple perspectives on some performances which prove thrilling’ (Screen International).
FINDING DORY ****
The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way. Pixar schmaltz sometimes hits the spot and this sequel almost reaches the brilliance of its predecessor, but not quite. ‘It’s a film that spills over with laughs (most of them good, a few of them shticky) and tears (all of them earned), supporting characters who are meant to slay us (and mostly do) with their irascible sharp tongues, and dizzyingly extended flights of physical comedy’ (Variety). ‘What “Dory” lacks in dazzling originality it more than makes up for in warmth, charm and good humor’ (New York Times). ‘The problem with Finding Dory is it doesn’t know when enough is enough. Its believe-in-yourself message is pounded with the subtlety of a hammerhead shark and the final action sequence is really too far-fetched to fathom’ (The Guardian). ‘While rambunctious and passably humorous, this offspring isn’t nearly as imaginative and nimble-minded as the forerunner that spawned it’ (Hollywood Reporter).
BRIDGET JONES’S BABY [not released at publication of this article]
September 29–October 2
So, who’s the father? Bridget’s forty-something post-Darcy life is rejuvenated and complicated with the arrival of new love. Not based on a novel but on Helen Fielding’s own screenplay.
LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD ****
September 29–October 2
Werner Herzog’s documentary exploring the world wide web trawls through the expected talking heads and introduces less high-profile thinkers and commentators. His own downbeat commentary, delivered in the customary and inimitable style, is incisive and stimulating. ‘Just the kind of percolating, wry probe we need into this fast-moving, digitally monopolizing age’ (Los Angeles Times).’ Mr. Herzog’s film may not be a model of organization, but I loved every meandering minute’ (Wall Street Journal). ‘For those looking for a ride through our modern technological world, or indeed a preview of what is to come, this is it’ (The Guardian). ‘Thoughtful, searching and wonderfully moving in its wistful final moments, Lo and Behold may not be Herzog’s most artistically ambitious film, but it’s an intriguing, even important one nonetheless’ (Washington Post). ‘The internet is an elusive quarry. It’s a marvel and a menace, a banal fact of life and a force for incalculable change. But it’s also less the subject of this captivating, uneven film than an excuse for its director to add to his collection of memorable faces and voices’ (New York Times).
CAFÉ SOCIETY ****
Bobby arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry. There, he falls in love with his uncle’s secretary, and finds himself swept up in the vibrant café society that defined the spirit of the age. Woody Allen’s latest comedy of manners is a glowing nostalgia trip to golden days long gone. ‘Romantic, bittersweet and funny as hell, Café Society turns Hollywood inside out, rooting through the superficial tinsel to find the real tinsel. You go away gobsmacked, beaming and happy to be both’ (New York Observer). ‘Café Society isn’t peak Allen, in the manner of such recent high points as “Midnight in Paris” (2011) and “Blue Jasmine” (2013), but the film — which could be helpfully subtitled Manhattan v Hollywood — feels lively, lived-in and fallibly human’ (Rolling Stone). ‘The whole film feels charmingly insubstantial, just as it’s meant to, with beautiful settings, amusing people and, for philosophical context, a classic Woody Allen one-liner: “Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living, but the examined life is no bargain.”’ (Wall Street Journal). ‘Its arresting visual design aside, Cafe Society is upper-middle-late-period Allen, a modestly diverting ditty that will never go down as one of his greats. (But, as most can agree, Allen at his most middling is still better than many hacks at their best.)’ (Washington Post).