This weekend ASFF selects five new movies that are released in cinemas this week. Three feature films and two documentaries, these works concentrate on themes ranging from friendship and betrayal to political activism and psychological breakdown.
One of cinema’s most divisive figures, Gaspar Noé returns with another decent into hell with this tale of a dance troupe that come together to rehearse in an abandoned school. When somebody spikes the punch with hallucinogenic drugs, it sends this diverse crew into a world of pain. Noé takes great delight in tormenting his characters – and us – in a film that, while superbly executed, is designed to make you feel uncomfortable.
Paul Feig has made a career of working with top-level actresses, notably in Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters. So he does here, with Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick taking the leads. But rather than out-and-out comedy, A Simple Favour is a Hitchcockian tale of murder and betrayal, as Kendrick’s vlogger sets out to discover what happened to her hip new friend – Lively’s fashion PR – after she disappears. A deliciously sharp and slickly-scripted story.
Lenny Abrahamson follows his Oscar-nominated drama Room with this adaptation of Sarah Waters’ gothic novel that – despite what the trailer may make you believe – is more character study than ghost story. Domhnall Gleeson plays the local doctor who returns to now-dilapidated mansion he once knew as a boy to discover a family in disarray. Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling co-star in this unsettling tale of despair.
The 90 year-old filmmaker Agnès Varda hits the road with visual artist JR for this unique travelogue across rural France, as the unlikely pairing hang out with everyday folk from cheese-makers to market-stall holders and produce some unforgettable photographic images of their times together. A fascinating look at the generation gap – and how to close it – this is also an intriguing study of the pleasures of friendship.
Shot over a number of years, with a wealth of self-filmed footage, Steve Loveridge’s documentary is an up-close look at the Grammy and Mercury-nominated British rapper M.I.A. Don’t expect a career overview, however; this is a highly personal look at her everything from her activist father to her own controversies (notably at the 2012 half-time Super Bowl performance with Madonna and Nicki Minaj). Like Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster, this is one of the great music docs of our time.
All films released on 21 September.
1. Still from Faces Places.
2. Still from Climax.
3. Still from The Little Stranger.
4. Still from A Simple Favour.
5. Still from Faces Places.
6. Still from Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.