A surefire hit for the hungry

A brief look at the other films on offer this week

Hunger Games:

Catching Fire (11)

Following her victory in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death, teenage heroine Katniss Everdeen embarks on a ‘Victor’s Tour’ of the districts, where a rebellion is simmering. As you would expect with any hugely-anticipated sequel, opinions are mixed. While many reviewers have lauded Catching Fire, others are more sombre. The Guardian, for example, says: “There’s never quite the sense of satisfaction that the first film provided. You can feel the franchise dynamic chugging beneath, with the result that Catching Fire is not quite a full course, more of an amuse bouche.”

Dir: Francis Lawrence, US sci-fi/adventure, 2013, 146 mins; Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hensworth

Battle of the Year (7)

Based on the documentary Planet B-Boy, this film reflects Benson Lee’s love and knowledge of break dancing, but it is predictable and clichéd. On Lee’s direction Entertainment Weekly says: “He seems to have pored over every sports underdog movie of the last 20 years, boiled away all the interesting particulars, and kept whatever dross was left.” If Chris Brown’s star quality is enough to keep you in your seat long enough, there are however some electrifying dance scenes.

Dir: Benson Lee; US music, 2013, 110 mins; Anis Cheurfa, Caity Lotz, Chris Brown

The Spirit of ‘45

This nostalgic documentary directed by Ken Loach is based on  the post-war Labour government that introduced the welfare state and nationalised the NHS following the Second World War. It is comprised of archival footage and present-day interviews with ordinary people who were affected by the government’s actions including candid accounts of the era by doctors, lawyers and the trade unionists who were subsequently vilified by the media. According to Time Out, “the film works all at once as a lament, a celebration and a wake-up call to modern politicians and voters.”

Dir: Ken Loach; UK doc, 2013, 94 mins


Red Obsession

Bordeaux’s status in the wine world is unquestioned. However, the UK and US wine markets have fallen by the wayside and  China has become  the leading importer of fine wine from the region. This documentary asks what effect this will have on Bordeaux’s reputation and questions whether or not the region’s winemakers will be able to embrace their new clientele.  According to the New York Times, Loach and Ross’s fast-paced documentary (narrated by Russell Crowe) can feel stuffy at times but  does raise “legitimate concerns about the cultural and economic implications of status-minded overconsumption.”

Dir: David Roach, Warwick Ross; HK/UK doc, 2013, 75 mins

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