5 to See: This Weekend

ASFF selects five new films released on demand this week. Hailing from America, Canada, the Philippines and Holland, this mix spans historical drama and social realism. The movies tackle some really pertinent topics – from police brutality to domestic abuse to internal grief.

The Little Things (Warner Bros.)

Driven by a classy cast, John Lee Hancock’s crime saga wears its influences on its sleeve. A cousin to those grisly ’90s tales like The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, Denzel Washington stars as Sheriff Joe Deacon, a former L.A. cop who gets dragged back into a world he left as he investigates a killer on the loose. Co-starring Rami Malek and a sensational Jared Leto as the top suspect, this is a gritty tale of obsession and moral ambiguity.

Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)

Golden Globe winner Daniel Kaluuya knocks it way out the park as Fred Hampton, the Black Panther activist from Chicago who was assassinated by the FBI. Director Shaka King crafts a powerful rendering of this devastating tale, collating an impressive cast, including Jesse Plemons as FBI agent Roy Mitchell, LaKeith Stanfield, as William O’Neal, the petty criminal manipulated by the authorities to bring Hampton down, and Martin Sheen as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

Mouthpiece (Bulldog Film Distribution)

Patricia Rozema, the Canadian director who worked on Mansfield Park, In Treatment and the HBO movie Grey Gardens, is behind Mouthpiece, a highly unusual drama based on the play by Amy Nostbakken. Norah Sadava and Nostbakken both play two sides of the same woman, Cassandra, as she comes to terms with the death of her mother. Spanning 48 hours during the funeral preparations, it’s a unique way at peering inside the mind of one character.

The Columnist (Vertigo Releasing)

This Dutch horror-satire stars Katya Herbers (The Leftovers, Westworld) as Femke, an outspoken columnist and author who faces daily online abuse. Then, one day, she snaps and decides to take revenge on the trolls in the bloodiest of fashion. Directed by Ivo Van Aart, this is a gory horror that attempts to ask some pertinent questions of the day. Do online bullies deserve their comeuppance? According to this film, at least, the answer is a resounding yes.

Verdict (Sovereign Film Distribution)

A tough watch, Verdict is a domestic abuse drama from the Philippines. Directed by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez, Max Eigenmann plays Joy, a battered wife who decides to stand up against her alcoholic, abusive petty criminal husband Dante (Kristoffer King). But when she goes to the police with her six-year-old daughter, she comes up against a wall of corruption and indifference. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Venice’s Horizons section back in 2019, this is a hugely important work.

All films released by 12 March.

James Mottram