This weekend ASFF selects five new films from around the world. One documentary and four narrative films, stories range from true tales of politicians, drug mules and film directors, to fictional dramas set in the world of crime and sex trafficking. Amongst the themes explored: the lure of power, money, sex and revenge.
Adam McKay follows The Big Shortwith another sensational comedy-drama. Telling of the rise of Dick Cheney, it stars Christian Bale is full-on transformation mode as the former Vice President in the George B. Bush administration. Brilliantly cast – Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Tyler Perry all feature – it’s also brilliantly executed. Fully deserving of the eight Oscar nominations it has just bagged, this is one of the best movies of the past twelve months.
The Mule(Warner Bros.)
Directing his second movie inside a year, the 88 year-old Clint Eastwood also returns to the screen for the first time since 2012’s Trouble With The Curve. Here, he plays Earl Stone, a horticulturalist who starts running drugs for a Mexican cartel. Based on a true story, it co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Bradley Cooper as the DEA agents trying to track Earl down, but the real draw here is watching the octogenarian Eastwood killing it on screen once more.
Bergman – A Year In A Life(BFI Distribution)
The Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman is at the centre of this documentary by Jane Magnusson, which returns to 1957 – a prolific year when he directed two films (The Seventh Seal,Wild Strawberries) and four plays. Exploring not only his output but his turbulent personal life, it mixes archive material with fresh interviews including Liv Ullmann, Roy Andersson and Lars von Trier. Essential viewing for any admirer of Bergman.
In the same week that Christian Bale does another one of his famous disappearing acts, Nicole Kidman matches him blow for blow in Karyn Kusama’s LA cop drama Destroyer. A film that borrows from Dirty Harry, Heatand even Memento, Kidman is sensational as Erin Bell, a world-weary forty-something LAPD detective on the hunt for a gang leader (Toby Kebbell) who has re-emerged from hiding. A tough-as-nails drama that keeps you guessing right until the final frames.
Love Sonia(Modern Films)
Tabrez Noorani makes his feature debut with this harrowing tale of sex trafficking in India. Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) is a naïve rural girl who heads to Mumbai to look for her sister, only to wind up in a brothel under the watchful eye of Manoj Bajpayee’s seedy owner. Co-starring Freida Pinto, as a strung-out girl working alongside Sonia, as well as cameo performances from Demi Moore and Mark Duplass, the script is somewhat careless but its heart is in the right place.
All films released on 25 January.
Lead Image: Still from Love Sonia.