It's a busy week at the cinema and indeed across Birmingham with the launch of the ninth Flatpack Festival, one of the best festivals 'anywhere' to do with film (and many other related things) with a packed schedule of stuff. Be sure to check out my preview blog on this year's event by clicking here.
Elsewhere, in the more traditional confines of the cinema screen, there are a number of other releases to get stuck into. Let's have a ganders ...
The Voices (15)
We open this week with a black comedy starring Ryan Reynolds afforded an opportunity to deliver an off-kilter performance in an equally off-kilter dark comedy about a likeable guy pursuing his office crush with the help of his evil talking pets. Things turn sinister when she stands him up for a date. The regular guy's thoughts become altogether more homicidal.
Director Marjane Satrapi clearly has a very warped sense of humour - not often do we get 'mainstream' films that dare to tackle make dark comedy about serial killing involving talking animals - a sort of Patrick Bateman/Dexter meets The League of Gentleman meets (an evil) Dr. Doolittle.
Reynolds clearly has fun and contributes to the film's animal voices too proving that, on screen, he is certainly not a mild mannered Canadian.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (3D) (12A)
One of the big challenges for the latest YP focussed franchise is to distinguish itself from the other 'youth' orientated franchises like The Hunger Games, the Twiglet saga, The Maze Runner and even Harry Potter. The competition, and the precedents, are numerous!
Much like its predecessors it is a trilogy in four parts and there's a lot of kids running around in woods! It seems that Hollywood producers are dialling in the "if it ain't broke" mantra.
To be fair, the first film was directed with an appropriate seriousness and the casting is strong. Shailene Woodley who stars as the heroine Tris Prior is a very talented actress. It garnered good reviews and had decent box office takings, in turn warranting its follow up.
One would hope that there's enough originality in the follow up to justify its future to four films, but sadly all I see are pop-culture and film references to things that have been done, and maybe even done better before.
The Gunman (15)
Never did I think that Sean Penn would be the next actor to enter the over 50s action genre. The plot simplified follows an international spy (Sean Penn) who must clear his name in order to save himself from the organization that he used to work for.
The premise of seeing Penn with his shirt off kicking lots of ass belies quite a lot of perceptions one might have for this usually serious actor. In playing against type, you'd hope it would be, at worse, just a couple of hours of 'fun'.
Furthermore, there's an impressive cast including the geezer Idris Elba and Javier (extra H in the J remember!) Bardem. Furthermore, directed by Pierre Morel, him of the first Taken film, he knows how to craft something which is taut, tense and free of filler. I fear that's where the pedigree might end, because sadly, reviews have not been good, critics pointing out failings in plot and script.
Perhaps though we should not be surprised. This over 50s action genre misfires more than not, remember last year, we saw Kevin Costner doing a flawed return to action in 3 Days to Kill. It perhaps goes to show that Liam is still the man, and he's had a few clunkers too!
Dreamworks Animation's latest feature is about an alien misfit called Oh who finds himself on Earth on the run from his own people and forms an unlikely friendship (isn't it always) with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Oh soon becomes aware of what it is to become human and joins on Tip's quest to change the world and the meaning of the word Home.
Sadly though, judging from the film's reviews, this is not up there in the Dreamworks pantheon. Much like Insurgent this week, this is a film that looks like it is influenced from animations that are better than it is. This is sad because if there's one genre where creativity and risk taking are often a given, it is the mainstream animation efforts from the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks.
Elsewhere, The Electric are showing Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (12A), starring Rinko Kikuchi as an office worker who undertakes an adventure based on an obsession with a altered VHS tape of a popular film she's mistaken for a documentary, fixating on a scene where a suitcase of stolen cash is buried in the desolate, frozen landscape of North Dakota.
Apart from that, this next week is all about Flatpack, so be sure to check out their website for all that's going on. That's it from me this week, any queries, quibbles or comments, you can find me at @timmy666 on twitter. Have fun!