5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five new films that will be released in UK cinemas. Ranging from science fiction to concert movie, survival story to historical drama, these films dig deep into the wider human experience, exploring everything from the meaning of existence to cultural appropriation, our need to live and the terrors of racial prejudice. 

High Life (Thunderbird Releasing)

Veteran French filmmaker Claire Denis delivers one of her finest films, a philosophical science-fiction drama set in deep space. Her first English-language film too, though the dialogue is sparse at best, it stars Robert Pattinson as a convict named Monte, on a mission to harvest energy from black holes. Co-starring Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth and AndréBenjamin, and beautifully shot by Yorick Le Saux, this mysterious. meditative movie will keep film students pondering and cogitating for years to come. 

Amazing Grace (Studio Canal)

Singer Aretha Franklin is seen here in what really can be described as a lost concert film. Originally directed by the late Sydney Pollack, Franklin set out to record her gospel album Amazing Graceat the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972. The film capturing this was never released, in part due to technical problems. Now Alan Elliott completes it, showcasing just what a remarkable performer Franklin was. Even Rolling Stones singer and drummer Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts turn up to show their appreciation. 

Arctic (Signature Entertainment)

Mads Mikkelsen stars in this expertly-made survival movie, one that’s every bit as compelling as The Revenantand All Is Lost. The difference is this is the directorial debut of former YouTube sensation Joe Penna. The Danish actor Mikkelsen plays a pilot whose plane went down, leaving him stranded in the snowy wilderness until an unexpected arrival spurs him back towards humanity.  With some really remarkable set-pieces, including a very angry polar bear, this is a perfectly judged thriller, but with enough emotional substance to give it weight. 

Madeline’s Madeline (MUBI)

Actress-director Josephine Decker writes and directs her third feature, following Butter on the Latchand Thou Wast Mild and Lovely. Here, newcomer Helena Howard plays Madeline, a talented but mentally ill New York acting student whose is encouraged by Molly Parker’s director to weave her troubled history with her mother (Miranda July) into her work. An experimental yet accessible piece, exploring the boundary where life overlaps with art, it confirms Decker as a fearless artist to be watched. 

Where Hands Touch (Spirit Entertainment)

Written and directed by Amma Asante, who previously made BelleandA United Kingdom, this World War II drama stars Amandla Stenberg as Leyna, a mixed-race German girl who falls in love with Lutz (George McKay), a member of the Hitler Youth. Featuring Christopher Ecclestone as Lutz’s father and Abbie Cornish as Leyna’s mother, the film is made with Asante’s usual care and consideration. Stenberg, who came to prominence in last year’s The Hate U Give, gives her all in a touching performance. 

All films released on 10 May.

James Mottram

1. Still from
Where Hands Touch.