This weekend ASFF selects five new films from around the world that open in cinemas in the UK. Ranging from broad comedy to sentimental drama, from contemporary satire to tragedy-fuelled biopic, these stimulating films explore such themes as deception, eco-activism, celebrity, violence, reincarnation and motherhood.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (Sky Cinema)
Fresh from his Netflix four-part documentary about notorious American serial killer Ted Bundy, director Joe Berlinger returns with this feature film, based on the book The Phantom Princeby Elizabeth Kloepfer, who spent seven years with Bundy blissfully unaware of his horrific crimes. Zac Efron is marvellous as Bundy, perfect casting as the handsome, charismatic killer who even defended himself at his own trial. Lily Collins, John Malkovich and Metallica’s James Hetfield co-star.
Brady Corbet follows his striking debut The Childhood of a Leaderwith this equally ambitious tale of pop diva-dom set to the backdrop of real tragedy. Natalie Portman excels as Celeste, a singer who has been through the wringer and is on the comeback trail when her work is connected to a mass shooting. Depicting what must surely be every artist’s nightmare, it’s an intriguing look at the way art and violence can intersect. Jude Law (on rakish form as her sleazy manager) and Willem Dafoe (as the narrator) also feature.
A droll Icelandic tale, Woman At Waris co-written, co-produced and directed by Benedikt Erlingsson, who received much critical acclaim for his 2013 film Of Horses and Men. Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir plays Halla, a choir conductor and covert environmental activist who is fighting against an aluminium plant by damaging pylons and cutting its power supply. Until, that is, Halla’s almost-forgotten adoption of a Ukrainian orphan gets approved, changing the game in this quirky tale scored with Icelandic folk music.
Written and directed by Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade is a coming-of-age introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school. Actress Elsie Fisher (13-year-old Kayla) was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, enduring the tidal wave of adolescence.E
Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen play a mismatched couple in this very appealing and very funny rom-com. Directed by Jonathan Levine, who previously made 50/50with Rogen, it’s got a political edge to it too and even a topical eco-message, as Theron plays a budding presidential candidate and Rogen is an outspoken journalist who gets brought on her campaign as a speech writer. Despite the rather bland title, this is one of those rare comedies that nudges a two-hour running time but doesn’t outstay its welcome.
All films released on 3 May.