This weekend ASFF selects five new films from around the globe that will be hitting UK cinemas this Friday. A documentary, two remakes, a biopic and a social realist drama, sourced from America, Britain and Lebanon, these tackle such pertinent topics as gender equality and child poverty, along with the more age-old staples like revenge and romance.
After the hit documentary RBG, the further anointing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg continues with this biopic from Mimi Leder. Very much about Ginsberg’s early years, from Harvard law student to taking on her first breakthrough case in fighting against gender discrimination, the film stars British actress Felicity Jones in the lead. She’s paired with Armie Hammer, who plays Ruth’s beloved husband Marty, for what is a well-intentioned drama that feels very appropriate in the current climate.
The superb young British actor Alex Lawther (Freak Show, Ghost Stories) takes the lead in this comic re-working of the Cyrano de Bergerac story from feature debut director Toby MacDonald. Set in an English boarding school, Lawther plays Amberson, a student who helps his fellow pupil – the alpha male Winchester (Jonah Hauer-King) – romance a new French girl by writing romantic musings. Drawing from the likes of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, it also features the fine Gallic star Denis Ménochet.
Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland remakes his own 2014 film In Order of Disappearance in English, with Liam Neeson taking over from original star Stellan Skarsgårdas a snowplow driver who takes revenge on drug dealers he believes killed his son. While the film has been overshadowed by Neeson’s controversial race-related comments, made in an interview during his promotional duties, those seeking out a cold, bloody thriller need look no further. Laura Dern and Michael Eklund co-star.
An Oscar-nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, and winner of the Jury Prize in Cannes last year, Nadine Labaki’s Lebanon-set drama is a hugely emotive experience. Zain Al Rafeea plays a 12 year-old boy, who takes his parents to court to sue them for the life of devastating poverty he’s living. Criticized unfairly by some for wallowing in squalor, Labaki’s film is in fact a heart-wrenching tale of the forgotten children living in unbelievably harsh conditions.
R&B and soul legend Teddy Pendergrass gets the documentary he deserves, with Olivia Lichtenstein’s film addressing his tumultuous life story. Famed for the song If You Don’t Know Me By Now, Pendergrass died in 2010, aged 59, though Lichtenstein manages to seek out fresh interviews with friends and colleagues, as well as unearth some rare archive footage, including tapes recorded by the singer himself.
All films released on 22 February.
1. Still from Capernaum.