5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five films that peak into vastly different worlds across three continents (and even into the future). From sci-fi to romantic comedy, documentary to hard-hitting drama, the experiences of men and women taken out of their comfort zones – or refusing to leave them – are explored with tenacity and perspicacity.

Hotel Artemis (Warner Brothers) 

British-born screenwriter Drew Pearce has made his name in Hollywood on films like Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Here he makes his directorial debut with a future-set tale about a hospital exclusively for criminals. Jodie Foster leads a starry cast as ‘the Nurse’, the woman with healing hands who only treats the nefarious amongst us. Dave Bautista, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto and Jeff Goldblum co-star.

A Prayer Before Dawn (Altitude Films)

Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire follows his child soldiers drama Johnny Mad Dog with this equally tough-to-watch tale. Based on the autobiography of British heroin addict and convict Billy Moore, Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole stars as Moore during his stint inside the Thai prison known as the ‘Bangkok Hilton’. Surviving by joining the prison’s Thai boxing team, Moore’s story told with authenticity and compassion.

Exctinction (ICA)

Hypnotic and multi-layered, Extinction (Extinção), meditates on the troubled borders of Eastern Europe with melancholic lyricism. Shot in black and white, Salomé Lamas’s filmic essay follows Kolya, a young man loyal to Transnistria, the Communist state that broke away from the former Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, which is unrecognised by the international community today.

Madame (Studiocanal)

An all-star cast feature in Amanda Sthers’ comedy-romance, set in the upper echelons of Parisian society. Toni Collette is the well-to-do lady who forces her maid (Rossy De Palma) to join her dinner party in disguise, to help even out the numbers and avert social disaster. Bordering on farce, this comedy of (table) manners is like a contemporary twist on Upstairs Downstairs as love sparks unexpectedly.

The Receptionist (Munro Film Services)

Director and co-writer Jenny Lu conjures up an intriguing look at economic desperation in this London-set drama. Teresa Daley plays a Taiwanese graduate who reluctantly takes a job as a receptionist as a massage parlour near Heathrow Airport. Dealing frankly with the increasingly concerning trend of Asian migrants sucked into a life of prostitution, it’s a stark character study from Lu, enlivened by some strong female performances.

All films released 20 July.

James Mottram

1. Still from The Receptionist (Munro Film Services).
2. Still from Exctinction (ICA).
3. Still from Hotel Artemis (Warner Brothers).
4. Still from Madame (Studiocanal).
5. Still from The Receptionist (Munro Film Services).