Out on Friday 1 July
An action-comedy that uses its Hart and Johnson. Elisabeth Moss astounds in a psychological thriller. A doc that uses audio to visualise blindness.
Yes, here's this week's new releases. Click on for our reviews of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Central Intelligence, Queen of Earth, Notes on Blindness, From Afar, and Colonia.
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As fizzy as Eddy and Patsy’s Bollinger tipple, this long-awaited big-screen outing for the bungling fashion victims is a brash, flash and jolly romp. Writer/star Jennifer Saunders nimbly steers the dissipated duo into a slapstick set-up, where a desperate Eddy is charged with accidentally killing Kate Moss, and flees to Cannes with fellow outlaw Patsy.
Deft at mocking the Twitterati, as Ab Fab was at nailing the ’90s, the film mercilessly pillories today’s media mourning frenzies, while letting its heroines bitch, booze and blunder their way in search of the Riviera high life. Crammed with celeb-cameos, from Jon Hamm (telling Patsy, “You took my virginity, leave me my sanity!”) to Rebel Wilson’s Taser-wielding air stewardess, the film’s healthy cynicism and director Mandie Fletcher’s rollicking pace help it dodge Zoolander 2 self-parody.
Though it feels obliged to insert Big Issues (fear of ageing, a chain of mother-daughter clashes), it’s the scrappy, sarcastic set pieces (and a nifty Some Like It Hot lift) that give it a fun feel. Since the plot is thinner than any of the many supermodels draped around it, give thanks for Joanna Lumley’s coke-snorting, gold-digging Patsy, whose heartless antics and peerless comic timing keep it all aloft.
Director: Mandie Fletcher; Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha; Theatrical release: July 1, 2016
Kevin Hart is Calvin, an out-of-his-depth accountant swept up in a CIA conspiracy with nerdy school pal turned secret agent Bob (Dwayne Johnson). Rawson Marshall Thurber’s comedy is harmless stuff, peaking early with a young, obese and presumably digital Johnson dancing in the shower. The leads have chemistry, but there’s only so far they can elevate such obvious material.
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber; Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet; Theatrical release: July 1, 2016
QUEEN OF EARTH
The latest from writer/director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip (opens in new tab)) is a psychological piece that often runs at fever pitch. Elisabeth Moss plays the newly jilted Catherine, who retreats to a lake house with friend Ginny (Katherine Waterston), where flashbacks recur, nerves fray and Catherine unravels. Both actresses are fantastic, yet the film suffocates, over-egging the pudding in the final act.
Director: Alex Ross Perry; Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston; Theatrical release: July 1, 2016
NOTES ON BLINDNESS
Blindness can be a difficult experience to capture in a visual medium such as cinema – despite this documentary’s attempts (blurred shots, close-ups of hands touching objects, fades to black), it never quite gets inside the head of its subject, writer/theologian John Hull. Thankfully, Hull’s observations – an audio diary – provide plenty of insight and engagement.
Directors: Pete Middleton, James Spinney; Theatrical release: July 1, 2016
That title’s apt for this evasive debut from Venezuela’s Lorenzo Vigas. There’s plenty to commend it, not least the magnetic Alfredo Castro as Armando, an ageing dental pro who begins a tense affair with young hustler Elder (Luis Silva). As they bond, father/ son themes emerge. But Vigas leaves the details overly opaque, resulting in a slow-burner that’s restrained at best, maddeningly remote at worst.
Director: Lorenzo Vigas; Starring: Alfredo Castro, Luis Silva, Jericó Montilla; Theatrical release: July 1, 2016
Set during the 1973 Chilean coup, this truth-based ‘historical romantic thriller’ follows Daniel Brühl’s German expat-cum-activist as he’s captured and consigned to bizarre cult Colonia Dignidad. Emma Watson co-stars as his girlfriend who tries to infiltrate the cult only to end up in a work camp. This is a well-meaning effort that never really convinces – not helped by underpowered performances.
Director: Florian Gallenberger; Starring: Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist; Theatrical release: July 1, 2016