5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five new films on release this week that range from comforting Christmas fare to astounding documentary to hardcore arthouse. Dealing with serial killers, murder and suicide, these films also find the good in humanity – from athletic achievement to exploring the true meaning of life. 

The House That Jack Built (Curzon Artificial Eye)

Lars Von Trier’s latest is a disturbing account of the life of a serial killer. Spanning twelve years, Matt Dillon plays Jack, who takes us through five key murders. Full of typical Von Trier digressions into everything from art and architecture to concentration camps, it’s as erudite as it is stomach-churning. The Danish provocateur leaves few taboos unbroken here, in a film that even his most ardent admirers will find hard to take.  

Lizzie (Bulldog Film Distribution)

The case of Lizzie Borden, the New England woman who was acquitted for murdering her father and stepmother with an axe in 1892, is given another cinematic study. Craig Macneill’s spare drama stars Chloë Sevigny as Borden and Kristen Stewart as Bridget, the maid who becomes intimately involved in this dysfunctional household. In full control of her performance, Sevigny roars on screen in a role she was born to play. 

It’s a Wonderful Life (Park Circus)

It’s Christmas, in case you hadn’t noticed. Last week saw the re-release of Die Hard – a modern-day festive classic – and now it’s the turn of the daddy of all Christmas movies. Frank Capra’s masterful story stars Jimmy Stewart as the suicidal George Bailey, a man who tries to take his life on Christmas Eve only to find a guardian angel who shows him just how many people’s lives he’s touched. Warmer than a fireplace hearth.

Free Solo (Dogwoof)

Definitely not for those who suffer from vertigo, this National Geographic Documentary movie from E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, a world-renowned mountaineer, depicts climber Alex Honnold as he prepares to take on his lifelong dream – ascending the 3000 foot face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, all without a rope. Sheer madness meets human endeavour, it will leave you swooning with fright. 

Mortal Engines (Universal)

Lord of the Rings’ Peter Jackson is behind this adaptation of Philip Reeve’s book, producing and co-writing the screenplay. With Jackson’s regular collaborator Christian Rivers in the director’s chair, the film is a fantasy tale that sees what’s left of humanity following a brutal war stalk the world in giant “predator’ cities. Hugo Weaving stars, alongside Misfits’ Robert Sheehan and Icelandic newcomer Hera Hilmar. 

All films released on 14 December. 

James Mottram

1. Still from Free Solo.
2. Still from The House that Jack Built.
3. Still from Lizzie.
4. Still from It’s a Wonderful Life.
5. Still from Free Solo.
6. Still from Mortal Engines.