ASFF selects five films for release on demand. With these stories both fictional and factual arriving from around the globe – France, Australia and America – filmakers explore burning issues from obsession (sexual and otherwise) to virtual reality and familial estrangement.
Rodney Ascher, the man who brought us obsessives who can’t stop watching Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining in Room 237, is back with a new documentary. A Glitch in the Matrix deals with people who subscribe to the so-called ‘simulation theory’ – one famously peddled in 1999’s sci-fi classic The Matrix – in which we’re all trapped inside a sophisticated computer programme. Led by footage of author Philip K. Dick, who fully bought into this, it’s a wild movie.
As if by magic, the same week as Ascher’s film is released, we get Mike Cahill’s Bliss. The director of 2011’s Another Earth, Cahill is back with this oddity starring Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek that explores very similar themes to A Glitch in the Matrix. Wilson plays Greg, an office drone who, after an altercation with his boss, runs into Hayek’s shaman-like character, who tries to convince him they’re both trapped inside a simulation.
Simple Passion (Curzon)
Adapted from Annie Ernaux’s novella, Laetitia Dosch plays Hélène, a divorced university teacher who becomes obsessed with a married Russian (Sergei Polunin) working at his country’s embassy in Paris. Directed by Danielle Arbid, the film does a fine job of exploring sex and love at all costs, as Hélène can think of nothing else – not even her own child. As the title says, this is a tale of simple passion, but it’s elegantly told.
Malcolm & Marie (Netflix)
Euphoria creator Sam Levinson writes and directs this explosive two-hander starring John David Washington and Zendaya. He’s Malcom, a film director who has just premiered his latest movie to an ecstatic reception. She’s Marie, his long-term girlfriend and the inspiration for his work. When he forgets to thank her in his speech, it leads to a protracted argument when they return home. Brilliantly acted, it’s also draining to watch, but Levinson has conjured a drama laced with hot-button topics.
Rams (Signature Entertainment)
A remake of the 2015 Icelandic movie, this Australian version stars Sam Neill as a sheep farmer who hasn’t spoken to his brother in forty years, despite the fact his sibling lives next door to him. After an epidemic of the highly contagious bacterial infection known as Ovine Johne’s disease (OJD) causes his flock and others to be destroyed, it leads to a poignant story of reconciliation that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. A real treasure of a movie.
All films released on 5 February.
Words: James Mottram