Mark Kermode gives his unique take on the best and worst of the week's film and DVD releases, with Gavin Esler.
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Now on BBC News, it's time for the Film Review.
Hello and welcome to The Film Review on BBC News.
To take us through this week's cinema releases is Mark Kermode.
We have the 20th Century Women, I new film starring Annette Bening. We
have the Lego Batman movie, which says what it does on the tin. And
Fences, a major awards contender. Let's start with 20th Century Women
from Mike Mills. It is an interesting film, set in California.
Young boy facing an uncertain adulthood, surrounded by strong
women of different ages, who both inspire and also confound, not least
his free-spirited mother, brilliantly played by Annette
Bening. Here is a clip. Thinking that you know
everything that's going on. No, I just think that, you know,
having your heart broken is a tremendous way to learn
about the world. ..as happy as you thought you'd be
when you were my age? You don't ask people
questions like that. Wondering if you're happy is a great
shortcut to just being depressed. I already love it, just from that. I
haven't seen it yet. You are right to do so. It is the horrific film.
It has terrific performances, partly because they had time to rehearse I
get to know the characters. These are characters you want to spend
time in the company. We want to show how their lives work-out. You want
to know about their lives. The film has texture, you feel like at any
point the camera could go out of the car, out of the house and into the
street and the world would be complete around it. It evokes a
world that is in many ways, lost. It is back to time that now seem so
distant, but the issues it deals with is contemporary. It is not plot
driven, it is to do with moments, conversations and relationships. The
narrative flips back and forward to some extent. I thought it was
terrific. I started watching it, I knew nothing of what to expect,
other than it had a great cast. I was drawn into their world and their
characters. I loved it, I can't wait to see it again, you will love it.
Will it be disparagingly called women's film? I don't know what that
means. It used to be a term that was use for popular movies. Because
females were the majority of the audiences. What they meant was
something would be successful and a blockbuster. I hope it is the case.
Anybody could see 20th-century women and get something out of it, it is
the rhetoric. Same is true of the Lego Batman
movie. Have you seen it? I am afraid I didn't. It was great. It sounded
like a stupid idea but it turned out to be very smart and inventive. What
age group? All age groups, I am in my 50s and I laughed all the way
through. It is about Lego Batman, a narcissist, and he has to learn to
have relationships with people, with Robin, his butler, and the Joker,
who is desperate for him to admit he is a special billing and they have a
special relationship. And what is great, the visuals are terrific, it
is incredibly kinetic. I wanted to hold the frame and say stop, there
are so many jokes in this one frame, they are going pass so fast. It is
great for all ages, it is funny. Loads of exciting stuff happening on
the screen. There are jokes about the 60s Batman and the Christopher
Nolan Batman. You need to see the Lego Movie, because that is terrific
and better than this. I have a busy weekend ahead of me. The Lego Batman
movie is tiptop stuff and doesn't let the side down. I am already
feeling overwhelmed. Let's talk about Fences. I have seen
the film and now I feel I want to see the play. Denzel Washington
stars and directs it. Troy is a blue-collar worker and brings home
his frustrations from his work, from his life. They all come out in the
home encounters. The film has got four Oscar nominations including
Best Supporting Actress and here is why.
You're not listening to me, I'm trying to explain it
It's not easy for me to admit I've been standing
I've had 18 years of my life just standing in the same spot as you.
Don't you think I've ever wanted other things?
Don't you think I had dreams and hopes?
Great performances. You have seen the play. So powerful, the play. The
film feels very staged. There are plays that have been adapted for the
screen and they feel cinematic. This feels like something that has taken
the stage play and filmed it. There are slight differences, but it never
felt like a cinematic endeavour. It felt like great writing, relevant
issues. The horrific, committed performances. But it didn't take
flight as a piece of film-making. That is a problem because if you
take a stage play away from the stage and put it somewhere else, you
have to to do something to it. You really feel you wish you were seeing
it live on stage, particularly with the larger speeches. It felt like a
theatrical production as opposed to a cinematic production. The
screenplay was written by August Wilson before he died, a great
playwright. It is different writing for the screen and it is a craft? It
is different directing that work for the screen. The classic screen
adaptation of plays, they understand the language of cinema. This is
clearly a huge reverence from the stage play, and understandably so. I
just don't think it is as cinematic as it needs to be. Despite the fact
it is great writing, solid performances and great individual
moments, but as a piece of cinema, doesn't fly. We are coming up to the
BAFTAs, so he might win awards for the acting? My feeling is that is
where its heart resides, they are terrific performances. It feels
theatrical to me. The best thing out in the cinema at the moment, is Toni
Erdman. He is terrific, it sounds unlikely, a three-hour German Black
comedy, written and directed and a standout performance about father,
daughter estrangement. A father turns up at his daughter's place of
work pretending to be a life coach, and she cannot get rid of him. It is
funny and poignant. It is about to be remade starring Jack Nicholson.
Why? It is perfect as it is, it doesn't need remaking, you will love
the original. I have seen the trailer and the trailer itself is
interminable. Does it need to be three hours? I am somebody who
believes in cutting to the bone, less is more, but in the case of
Toni Erdman, I would not take anything out. It is that good. Don't
be put off by the trailer. I was. Don't be, it is not a great trailer.
OK, only because you have told me. Tell us about the DVD. The Unknown
Girl. I young Doctor Who fails to open the door to a potential patient
is then found dead. She has a crisis of conscience and try to find out
who she is. It was a film, when it was in the cinema, got lukewarm
reviews. The best thing about DVDs, you can reassess things that was
overlooked the first time. It is a thriller, but it has a humanist
heart and is well worth seeing. I don't know it, but that is a good
recommendation. Mark, thank you very much indeed.
A quick reminder before we go that you'll find more film news
and reviews from across the BBC online at bbc.co.uk/markkermode.
And you can catch up with our previous programmes
And we mentioned the BAFTAs, let's find out who wins what on Sunday.
Full coverage from BBC News on the red carpet.
It is a perfect weekend for watching a movie because it is going to be
cold and miserable. This picture from Northumberland says it all,