When the film he was meant to be reviewing today has its release date pushed back by a couple of weeks, Spank The Monkey is forced to burble spacefillingly about the nature of truth.
It’s a weekend of lies and deception at the cinema, for some reason.
Additionally, it’s another ridiculously packed weekend, with 23 new releases scheduled to come out in the UK. How many of those you get to see is another matter, of course. This time last week, cineastes from Marv Marsh to Mark Cousins were complaining about the near-impossibility of finding anything non-Ultronic at your local multiplex. There’s no guarantee that this week will be any better. But even if they do make it into more than a dozen or so cinemas nationwide, there’s a curious air of mendacity hanging over quite a few of the films on the slate for the May Day holiday weekend. Maybe it’s a consequence of the upcoming election. Who knows?
There are a couple of decent re-releases in there, for sure: we’ve already discussed 8½ here, and there’s also the chance to catch Orson Welles’ Chimes At Midnight on the big screen. Meanwhile, over the weekend, Picturehouse Cinemas are hosting one-day engagements of a couple of Asian movies I’ve previously reviewed at festivals: the delightful Japanese anime A Letter To Momo, and the ropey Hong Kong horror Rigor Mortis. But what about properly new films? Well, that’s where the deception starts.
The fancy new release in the UK is Thomas Vinterberg’s Far From The Madding Crowd, and Europe’s Best Website will be roadtesting it against the 1967 model later this month. But the film that’s most likely to pull in the Saturday night punters is the social media-based horror flick Unfriended, presumably called that because It Unfollows was kind of already bagsied. Cheekily, it’s being plugged as From The Visionary Director Of Wanted, even though Timur Bekmambetov is only on board as producer. (I’d really like to see someone self-deprecatingly abuse that cliché on their poster some time. From The Visionary Director Of Keith Lemon: The Film, that sort of thing.)
You can accuse Bekmambetov of past crimes against cinema if you like, but you’d still expect a film that uses his name in the publicity to be a lot more visually ambitious than that. Still, it was probably only a matter of time before a horror movie was constructed around the abuse of social media, and you may wonder why nobody’s thought of that as an idea before. In which case, Justin Cole, director of 2013’s The Upper Footage, would like to have a quick word.
Here’s another film coming out this week, with a decent pedigree attached: Michael Shannon stars, Jake Paltrow directs. Unfortunately, when this sci-fi Western hybrid came out in the US last year, it was called Young Ones. That title isn’t going to work in the UK – depending on your age, it’s going to conjure up visions of Cliff Richard, Rik Mayall, or a Teesside folk trio whose new album coincidentally came out this week. So retitling was inevitable.
Bad Land: Road To Fury? That’s a bit of a mouthful for a film that’s not part of an ongoing series, surely? Presumably it’s just a coincidence that Nicholas Hoult has third billing in this film, and in just two weeks he’ll have third billing in another film, the slightly-more-eagerly-awaited Mad Max: Fury Road. There’s been a long-standing tradition in the home video market of films being misleadingly titled to fool inattentive punters: it therefore comes as no surprise to learn that Bad Land: WTF?’s microscopic theatrical run is merely a prelude to its Blu-ray release the following Monday.
Across the Atlantic, it’s time for the Avengers, one week after the rest of the world (except for parts of Germany). The international opening weekend for Avengers: Age Of Ultron effortlessly coasted past $200 million, thus giving Joss Whedon the chance to focus on a more personal project next time round. Much More Ado About Nothing, perhaps, or Serenity 2: Sod It, Let’s Just Say He’s Alive Again, It’s What I Do Now. The gap between the UK and US releases has led to discussion about whether there’ll be some re-editing between the two: the first Avengers film, after all, picked up a bonus post-credits scene in the American version, featuring the cast glumly eating a kebab. Joss says there won’t be a new post-credits bit: but Joss lies, of course. What we do know is that an extended version with a retooled ending will be available on Blu-ray before the year’s out, leading to heated fanboy arguments throughout 2016 about whether the new ending is canon or not.
But again, other films will be out there for American audiences. And the most extraordinary-sounding one of them has to be Little Boy, which was released last weekend. It’s one of those faith-based movies that the US seems to be big on at the moment, so its chances of making it to the UK are fairly slim – and that’s before you even discover what it’s about. Rather than risk contaminating your eyes with the actual film, I’d suggest reading the AV Club review, and continuing through the comments as it slowly dawns on readers what the spoiler is that they’ve been trying to conceal. It’s all about the journey rather than the discovery: but once you’ve made the discovery, even the anodyne-looking poster has a queasy tinge to it.
So, check out one of those at your local cinema tonight. Or, as it’s May 1st, why not go out and trash a McDonalds as a protest against capitalism, like people used to back in the nineties? To get you fired up for that, here’s the best ever use of The Internationale in a Hollywood movie. Play loud.
Tokyo Tribe opens in UK cinemas on May 22nd.