5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five new feature films from around the globe, from India to France and all over America. Ranging from remakes and romantic comedies to dance movies, themes of family, friendship and freedom flow through these latest cinematic offerings.

Mary Poppins Returns (Disney)

Chicago director Rob Marshall brings back P.L. Travers’ magical creation for this follow-up to the 1964 children’s classic. A perfectly cast Emily Blunt takes over from Julie Andrews, as the no-nonsense nanny returns to look after the Banks family one more. Featuring some fab songs and Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer and Meryl Streep in support, Marshall pays deep respect to the original to create a wonderful family movie. They even manage to get through its entirety without saying: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

Polina (606 Distribution)

The evolution of a young Russian ballerina takes centre stage in this adaptation of Bastien Vives’ graphic novel. Co-directed by famed French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj and the film’s screenwriter Valerie Müller, Anastasia Shevtsova stars as the teenage Polina, who falls in love with a fellow dancer (Niels Schneider) and follows him to France. With an electric score by 79D, and Juliette Binoche as a dance teacher they audition for, there’s much to admire.

Papillon (Signature Entertainment)

Danish director Michael Noer retells the story told by one of the great prison movies of all time – Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1973 drama Papillon. Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek take on the roles previously played by Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman – wrongly convicted murderer Henri Charrière and counterfeiter Louis Degas, who wind up in a 1930s penal colony in French Guiana. Co-stars Eve Hewson and This Is England’s Michael Socha.  

1985 (Peccadillo Pictures)

Actor Cory Michael Smith makes another interesting choice in a career that’s seen him go from playing The Riddler in TV show Gotham to featuring in Todd Haynes’ Carol and Wonderstruck. In Yen Tan’s drama set in the first wave of the AIDS crisis in Reagan-era America, he throws down another marker as Adrian, a twentysomething returning home to his parents (Michael Chiklis, Virginia Madsen) for Christmas after a three-year absence. Suffice it to say, it won’t be a case of happy holidays.

Zero (Yash Rag Films)

One of India’s biggest movie stars, Shah Rukh Khan returns with the glossiest, highest-budget film of his career. He plays Bauua Singh, a wealthy 38 year-old singleton for a small town in India who can’t find a bride because of his height.  With Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma co-starring as the two women who take him a journey of self-discovery, the film is directed by Aanand L. Rai (Tanu Weds Manu).

All films released on 21 December.

James Mottram

1. Still from Polina.
2. Still from Mary Poppins Returns.
3. Still from Polina.
4. Still from Papillon.
5. Still from 1985.
6. Still from Zero.