ASFF selects five films for release on demand. These features arrive from France, America, and China – chronicling wild, weird and sometimes absurdist stories about obsession, friendship and sexuality.
A film with real resonance in the post-#MeToo world, Slalom is the impressive work of first-time writer-director Charlène Favier. Set at an elite ski-school in the French Alps, it follows the uneasy relationship between budding ski star Lyz (Noée Abita) and her coach Fred (Jérémie Renier) who oversteps professional boundaries with his young charge. Queasily played out, it’s a disturbing drama that benefits from some exhilarating ski sequences – perhaps the only time with this vulnerable teenager can feel free.
This film easily wins the prize for best title of the year. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who famously co-wrote Bridesmaids, are back together for this garish comedy. Again, they have co-written and this time they take the leads. Wiig is Star and Mumolo is Barb, two best friends from a Midwestern town who head to Florida on holiday and get tangled up in all sorts of adventures. Josh Greenbaum directs, and Jamie Dornan (in a role a million miles from Fifty Shades‘ Christian Grey) and Damon Wayans Jr. co-star.
PVT Chat (Vertigo Releasing)
Ben Hozie writes and drects this erotic drama that, as the title suggests, is all about internet (dis)connections. Peter Vack plays Jack, an internet gambler hooked on Blackjack from New York who becomes obsessed with a web-cam girl named Scarlett (Julia Fox, who burst onto the scene in last year’s Uncut Gems). The film explores fantasy and reality, and what happens when the two collide, after Jack spots Scarlett – despite their 3000 mile distance – on a rainy street in Chinatown.
Willy’s Wonderland (Signature Entertainment)
You can always rely on Nicolas Cage to unearth the most bizarro scripts. After Mandy and Colour Out of Space, he’s back in this action-thriller in which he plays a drifter-type who, after his car breaks down, must spend the night in an abandoned amusement park. So what happens? When night falls, the animatronic mascots come alive and get violent. It may not quite have the cult appeal of classic Cage, but for those looking for some midnight movie madness, this fits the bill nicely.
Dead Pigs (MUBI)
Coming to MUBI is the first film by Cathy Yan, Dead Pigs, which was made in 2018 but only now getting a UK release. Yan, of course, went on to make DC’s Birds of Prey in 2020 with Margot Robbie reprising her Harley Quinn role, but this Chinese-set drama is a world away from that comic book fare. Here, several lives collide – including a very unlucky pig farmer – when thousands of dead pigs are found floating down the Huangpu River towards Shanghai.
All films released on 12 February.