This weekend ASFF selects five new films from around the world. A mix of fact, fiction and documentary, these titles draw from all frames of reference, including astrophysics, post-impressionist art and historical myth. The selection explores themes of greed, psychological trauma and creativity.
British filmmaker Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life, The Falling) returns with her first American-set feature, a loose adaptation of Martin Amis’ novella Night Train. Patricia Clarkson plays a New Orleans detective who gets embroiled in a grisly case when a leading astrophysicist (Mamie Gummer) is murdered. Jacki Weaver, James Caan and Toby Jones co-star in what is a real rarity, a female-led film noir and a Martin Amis adaptation that doesn’t implode.
Inspired by a true story – the Flannen Isles mystery of 1900 when three lighthouse keepers disappeared – this thriller from Kristoffer Nyholm posits what might’ve happened. Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan and Connor Swindells play the trio of Celtic ’keepers, who get involved in mix of violence and greed in a story that draws from such classics as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. A tense and taut tale, the queasy feeling it’ll leave you with doesn’t come from seasickness.
Steve Sullivan’s documentary tells of the man behind Frank Sidebottom, the novelty act from the 1980s who went from the music scene to being a staple on children’s television. With his nasal voice and papier-mâché head – previously referenced in Lenny Abrahamson’s film Frank – Sidebottom was always a curiosity. But Sievey was also something of a mystery figure, and this account unpicks quite brilliantly his restless spirit and homespun creativity.
Oscar-nominated Willem Dafoe plays Vincent van Gogh in this raw account on his final years by fellow artist-turned-filmmaker Julian Schnabel (Basquiat). Featuring an excellent support cast around him – Rupert Friend as Van Gogh’s brother Theo, Oscar Isaac as painter Paul Gauguin – this is a real heart-on-the-sleeve version of events, as the troubled Dutch artist heads to the south of France to begin a furious period of work.
Tim Burton’s latest “re-imagining” sees him take on the classic 1941 Disney cartoon about the titular baby elephant that can flap his ears and fly. Expanding the story, Danny DeVito plays the travelling circus owner who uses Dumbo to rescue his ailing business, while Michael Keaton is the showbiz entrepreneur who wants to exploit the blue-eyed pachyderm. Eva Green and Colin Farrell co-star in what is a colourful re-working of one of the all-time great animations.
All films released on 29 March.