5 to See: This Weekend

ASFF selects five films for release this week available in cinemas and on demand. With these films hailing from the U.S., South Korea and France, these directors set out to explore a diverse array of themes relating to the human condition, from isolation and marriage to the bonds of friendship and even death.

The Woman Who Ran (MUBI)

Short (at 77 minutes) and sweet, South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo’s latest tells of a wife who, for the first time in five years, is free of her husband after he leaves town for a business trip. Hong’s off-screen partner Kim Minhee plays the title character Gamhee, who spends each of her three days alone visiting female acquaintances and dealing with irritating men. Watching a woman come to re-assess the world around her, it is a deceptively sly but ambitious work.

The Midnight Sky (Netflix)

George Clooney directs and stars in this adaptation of the 2016 novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. He plays Augustine, a scientist isolated in an Arctic observatory just as an environmental catastrophe befalls the planet. Up in space, meanwhile, is an expedition to find a new planet to colonize, with Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo and Kyle Chandler all on board. It won’t touch Gravity and Solaris – two previous Clooney-in-space movies – but it certainly feels resonant for our times.

Freaky (Universal)

A comedy-horror released on Christmas Day? Well, that almost sums up 2020. Whatever, this body-swap tale sees Kathryn Newton star as 17-year-old high school girl Millie Kessler, who gets swapped into the body of a serial killer (Vince Vaughn) who has targeted her. While Millie is suddenly in his hulking frame, Vaughn’s killer is now in the body of a teenage girl – which is an ideal disguise for taking out some kids at the Homecoming dance. Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day) writes and directs.

Soul (Disney +)

Pixar genius Pete Docter (Inside Out) is back with his latest animation, an absolutely masterful tale of life, death, madness and the joy of jazz. Jamie Foxx voices Joe, a middle-school music teacher who dies from a street accident just on the very day he gets his shot at greatness. What follows is a stunning exploration of the world around us, as Joe desperately tries to get back in his body before being sent to “the Great Beyond”. Tina Fey, Richard Ayoade and Graham Norton co-star.

The Nutcracker – Bolshoi Ballet 2020 (Trafalgar Releasing)

With theatres shut this year due to Covid, many of you will be missing classic Christmas traditions – like watching The Nutcracker. So here’s a chance to see the Bolshoi Ballet’s stunning two-hour version, accompanied of course by Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, as the toys come to life on Christmas Eve and a wooden nutcracker transforms into a Prince. An unforgettable treasure for the holiday season

All films released by 25 December.

James Mottram