RENEE ZELLWEGER hogs the limelight in Judy, the sad-sack tale of a screen icon’s celebrity gloaming.
Bait is a mesmerising exploration of class war in a Cornish fishing town, while Liam Hemsworth gets his hands dirty in the silly but brutal Killerman.
DVD Of The Week: Judy
(12A) 118mins, out Monday
RENEE ZELLWEGER is a clear frontrunner to scoop the Best Actress Oscar next month — not surprisingly, given her dominant performance here and Hollywood’s limitless capacity for self-mythologising.
She brings a brittle, bruised charisma to this sad-sack portrait of Judy Garland’s celebrity gloaming, which explores some of the same themes as the superior Stan & Ollie.
Zellweger is by turns waspish and vulnerable, delivering with verve the script’s handful of real zingers. Like her performance, the drama is rarely subtle — especially when it comes to Garland’s traumatic youth. The hits are there but the heart isn’t. Too often it feels like biopic box-ticking.
Even so, Zellweger keeps things moving. Just don’t call this performance “career defining”. That will always be Bridget Jones in her giant granny pants.
(15) 89mins, out now
RUGGED, rough-and-ready drama with the little-known Edward Rowe an eye-catching presence as Martin, the Cornish fisherman struggling to adapt to the gentrification of his unnamed town and effective exile from his own life.
The disdain with which Rowe spits the word “modernised” is worth the watch in itself.
TV’s Simon Shepherd plays Tim, the middle-class invader Rowe memorably derides as “chairman of the pretty committee”, a wine-slurping, guacamole-mashing avatar for everything Rowe despises.
Director Mark Jenkin cobbles together a hypnotic tale of irreconcilable conflict, lingering patiently on tiny telling details — tattooed fingers; the unblinking eyes of suffocating fish; the shriek of a kettle hinting at violence to come.
Somber and bruising but bursting with humanity, with bonus points for not mentioning Brexit. Proper job, as Rowe’s fisherman would say.
(15) 107mins, out Monday
LIAM HEMSWORTH is the killer, man, in this daft but committed memory-loss thriller, set in a seedy world of bent cops and gravelly voiced drug dealers.
The script is a confused, thudding mess and the film is 15 minutes longer than it needs to be — yet executed far better than it might have been too.
The grainy dash-cam aesthetic is probably due to budgetary constraints but is increasingly effective the grimmer the action gets.
Hemsworth brings a low-key intensity to his role as underworld money-man Moe Diamond (really), plunged into a spiral of bloody intrigue following a bump on the head.
Behind the beard and garish shirt he radiates a sincerity the silly plot doesn’t deserve. It’s a refreshing change from his brother Chris’ permanent ironic twinkle.
The jangling electro soundtrack has echoes of the Safdies’ Uncut Gems, the outlook is similarly bleak and both got exactly the same number of Oscar nominations. Though in this case it’s easier to understand why.
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(18) 94mins, out Monday
GARY OLDMAN sure does like to slum it.
Tepid on the heels of last year’s terrible Killers Anonymous comes this nonsensical actioner, which looks like any one of a dozen different video games but is less fun than all of them.
Oldman is the criminal mastermind with the eye-patch who spends his early scenes with his good eye shut listening to classical music. Probably a good move.
Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) is the euphemistic “courier” tasked with protecting Amit Shah’s geeky witness.
The performances range from wooden to plastic. Even a screen giant like Oldman struggles to sound interested.
It is glossy and the action functional but it’s just so generic. Still much better than Killers Anonymous, mind.