Films of the week: Animated delight comes as manna from the heavens
Friday 18 October 2013
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
4.20pm Channel 5
(Phil Lord, Chris Miller, 2009) This riotous, action-packed, joke-stuffed and candy-coloured spectacle, expanded from a 1978 US children's book about a young inventor who makes food rain from the sky, is the only digitally animated feature of recent years with the wit, invention and richness of characterisation to rival the best of the Pixar studio's output. Hilarious. Featuring the voices of Bill Hader and Anna Faris. *****
Shall We Dance?
(Mark Sandrich, 1937) In their seventh and most lavish film together, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers play a ballet dancer and a tap-dancer who marry as a publicity stunt, long before falling in love for real. There are many distracting plot complications, but everything becomes effortless and simple when they dance. The Gershwins' future standards include "They Can't Take That Away from Me". ****
(James L Brooks, 1987) Holly Hunter's driven television news producer, William Hurt's telegenic presenter and Albert Brooks's aggrieved reporter form the three sides of a love triangle in this droll romantic comedy. Each of them is complicated but rounded; the film is convincing in all its behind-the-scenes detail, and takes a well-aimed swipe at what it perceives as declining journalistic standards. *****
A Simple Plan
(Sam Raimi, 1998) Three friends stumble across a big stash of money amid the snow of a Minnesotan winter, and make the understandable mistake of deciding to keep it for themselves. But, unlike these wholly believable characters, neither this thriller's director, Sam Raimi, nor the actors – Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda – make a single misstep. ****
(Richard Ayoade, 2010) A coming-of-age comedy about a 16-year-old Welsh schoolboy navigating his uncertainty about the future, the state of his parents' marriage, and his feelings for his first ever girlfriend, who has eczema and "enjoys bullying in moderation". It's got a deadpan manner, a richly detailed, highly organised visual style and all kinds of literary and cinematic flourishes. Craig Roberts stars. ****
Everything Must Go
(Dan Rush, 2010) Will Ferrell plays a recovering alcoholic who, on the same day that he loses his job, finds that his wife has changed the locks to their suburban home and dumped all of his possessions outside. No doubt having some kind of breakdown, he settles down to live on the lawn, amid the detritus of his life so far. Based on the Raymond Carver story "Why Don't You Dance". Laura Dern also stars. ***
1.05am Channel 4
(Scott Cooper, 2009) Bad Blake is an alcoholic, 59-year-old faded country-and-western star who continues to ply his trade in small bars in America's heartland, but knows he won't get many more chances at redemption after the one offered by his latest conquest (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Jeff Bridges deserved the Oscar he was finally given, for making him such a whole and credible character. ****
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