Cinema Picks for Friday 5th January

The thing to see at cinemas this week (provided you can cope with the extreme levels of violence) is Mel Gibson’s latest historical epic Apocalypto. Whilst he may have have a few lessons to learn about alcohol and race relations, he sure knows how to film a sweeping historical drama. Since winning the Oscar with Braveheart in 1996 and making The Passion of the Christ in 2004 he has grown into an accomplished director.

The film depicts the experiences of one tribesman during the last days of the Maya civilization. After being captured and taken for human sacrifice he has to find a way to escape and get back to his village. It is a brutal and at times sadistic film but is also a gripping experience with a dazzling production design. It might not suit everyone’s tastes but credit to Gibson for using his money to make a film as startling and uncommerical as this.

Also out at cinemas this week is the last film from the late and great director Robert Altman. A Prairie Home Companion is adapted from the long running US radio show and features a terrific cast with the likes of Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, John C Reilly and Woody Harrelson. There is a nice bittersweet quality to the film and in retrospect it is a nice swan song to the maverick director. However, despite positive aspects to the film it isn’t in the same league as his best work like Nashville, MASH or The Player.

Miss Potter is a biopic of famed children’s writer Beatrix Potter, here played by Renee Zellwegger. Although Renee does a mean English accent the film is sloppy, sentimental and wastes Ewan MacGregor in a poorly written supporting role.

FILM OF THE WEEK: Apocalypto

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