5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five new films to hit UK cinemas this Friday, arriving from America, Spain, Sweden and Britain. Spanning the cinematic spectrum, from contemporary folklore to hard-hitting social realism, comic-book heroism to indie drama, these films deal with such pertinent issues as fear of the outsider, family ties and lies and the purpose of art.

Border (MUBI)

Based on the novella by John Ajvide Lindqvist, famed for writing vampire classic Let The Right One In, this Swedish-made film of a homely-looking customs worker named Tina (Eva Melander) draws from folklore to conjure a jaw-dropping story that touches on the fear of the Other. Directed by Ali Abbasi, the make-up – which was Oscar-nominated – is brilliant too, while performances from Melander and her co-star Eero Milonoff elevate this beyond typical genre fare.

Captain Marvel (The Walt Disney Studios)

Before she appears in next month’s Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel makes history as the first Marvel Comics female superhero to get her own stand-alone movie. Room Oscar-winner Brie Larson stars as the U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers who gains unimaginable powers after a collision with some alien tech. Set in the 1990s – Samuel L. Jackson features as a younger Nick Fury – it’s directed with panache by Half Nelson’s Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

The Kindergarten Teacher (Thunderbird Releasing)

Writer-director Sara Colangelo (Little Accidents) remakes Nadav Lapid’s 2014 Israeli film Haganenet, relocating it to Staten Island. Maggie Gyllenhaal is Lisa, the titular teacher with a stagnant home life as a wife and mother-of-two. When she discovers a 5 year-old pupil has a gift for poetry, she becomes unhealthily attached to her young charge. An unsettling drama that deals with art, plagiarism, obsession and mental illness, ably directed by Colangelo and performed by Gyllenhaal.

Everybody Knows (Universal)

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman, A Separation) returns to Europe after his French-set drama The Past for this Spanish family drama, starring Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. All set around a rural wedding, the happy occasion turns sour when a family member is kidnapped and revelations start falling like confetti. While this sends Farhadi towards unexpected genre territory, don’t expect Everybody Knows to turn into a run-of-the-mill thriller.

Ray & Liz (New Wave)

Photographer and artist Richard Billingham makes his feature debut with this unforgettable slice of Black Country-set social realism, inspired by his own parents. It’s a squalid existence he depicts – acutely realised but very tough to watch – made up of heavy drinking, violence and delinquency. Justin Salinger and Ella Smith are excellent as the title characters, while Billingham’s unsparing and uncompromising vision is to be admired if not exactly enjoyed.

All films released on 8 March.

James Mottram