First off, I owe Matthew McConaughey an apology, having scoffed at his body transforming antics in Dallas Buyers Club last month. Having since viewed the film, I can honestly say he carries all before him without compromising what remains an impressive film drama. Clearly Mr Woodruff was a highly charismatic personality, and McConaughey marshals his native Texan drawl to great effect as he maps this character’s growth from homophobic hellraiser to philanthropic campaigner. Like other good Hollywood issue films (Erin Brockovich, say), this is one that knows when to raise a laugh as well as draw a tear, and without appearing phoney or unduly manipulative. Still not my number one for the top spot, but it deserved the Best Actor Oscar alright.
The month ahead holds many pleasures for adherents of the Ipswich Film Theatre. In the first place we have had The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s typically wry look at the denizens of a 1930s hotel, with the kind of dream cast only Woody Allen otherwise seems able to attract. Cineworld are still running it once a day for the time being, so there is a chance to catch some rarefied pleasures if you haven’t seen it yet. Talking of which, there is also Lars von Trier’s latest cause célèbre, namely Nymph()maniac (Vols.1 and 2). This story of the sexual mania of a young woman (played by Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg) courts controversy as wilfully as The Idiots, Antichrist and Melancholia, and is likely to be the same mix of bold, even meretricious, imagery and an undeniably assured personal vision.
Look lively, though: IFT are only showing each film once, so blink, and you’ll miss them. Later in the month there will be the long awaited Jonathan Glazer film, Under the Skin, in which Scarlett Johansson plays an alien preying on young men in Glaswegian nightclubs; Richard Ayoade’s Dostoevsky adaptation, The Double, with Jesse Eisenberg as a corporate clerk who sees his doppelgänger climb the corporate ladder and woo his own secret crush (Mia Wasikowska); and Calvary, John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to The Guard, with the indispensable Brendan Gleeson as a catholic priest who becomes the innocent target of a victim of institutional child abuse.
A bumper month, then, for cinephiles, with new movies from five arthouse auteurs, to tire a well-worn phrase, not necessarily noted for being prolific. Glazer, in particular, has really only done Sexy Beast and Birth in the last fourteen years, both arresting works in their differing ways, and has spent five years putting Under the Skin together. None of which guarantees a masterpiece, of course, but with the superhero season already underway with Captain America, the results cannot fail to be cerebral by comparison.