This weekend ASFF selects five new films that open in cinemas around the UK. A variable mix – documentary, biopic-musical, action-adventure – these movies take audiences into both fantastical realms and real-life scenarios. With themes ranging from sporting endeavor to sexuality to fighting for what you believe in, these are all films designed to entertain and illuminate.
Alongside Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning remains of the most important whistleblowers of our time. A trans woman soldier from the United States Army, she was sentenced to thirty-five years at an all-male prison after leaking information about America’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tim Travers Hawkins’ film gets full-on access to Manning, who recently went behind bars again after refusing to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
A study of one of tennis’ greats, Julien Faraut’s film is no ordinary sports documentary. Akin to Douglas Gordon’s Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, this look at McEnroe at the 1984 French Open when he played Ivan Lendl in the final after a remarkable season where he won virtually every game is more like an art installation. Narrated with hushed reverence by Mathieu Amalric, it’s an absorbing look at the temperamental genius that was John McEnroe.
Too Late To Die Young
Dominga Sotomayor’s latest film is a beguiling coming-of-age drama. Set in the aftermath of the Pinochet regime in Chile, it follows an isolated community in the foothills of the Andes coming to terms with new opportunities and freedoms. Through the lens of youth, the film evokes the endless and hazy feeling of a teenage summer.
Dexter Fletcher, fresh off his rescue job on Bohemian Rhapsody, returns with another 1970s music bio – this time telling the story of the artist formerly known as Reginald Dwight. Taron Egerton plays Elton John with just the right panache, in this story of his early days, his rise to fame, his relationship with lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) and the drug-taking lifestyle that almost killed him. Sound-tracked with a boat-load of Elton John music, this is a rocket-fueled ride of a movie.
After Beauty and the Beast and arriving just before The Lion King, Disney continues its trend of taking some of its animated classics and rebooting them as live-action films. Here, Guy Ritchie – an unusual choice – takes on Aladdin, with Mena Massoud playing the title character and Will Smith taking on the role of the Genie, so brilliantly voiced in the cartoon by the late Robin Williams. Naomi Scott co-stars as the Princess Jasmine.
All films released by 24 May.