This weekend ASFF selects five films from around the globe that are ready for UK release. Two documentaries – about two very different men – and three features make up an intoxicating line-up of movies. Among the issues explored – climate change, marital dysfunction and man’s willingness to survive amid physical extremes.
Kursk: The Last Mission (Signature Entertainment)
Thomas Vinterberg delivers his biggest-scale film to date – a taut exploration of the Kursk submarine disaster in 2000. Featuring Matthias Schoenaerts as a Russian naval lieutenant trapped on the vessel after it sinks to the bottom of the Barents Sea, the film is part rescue-thriller, part political drama, as a race-against-time to save the men on the Kursk becomes a bureaucratic game of chess. Suspenseful and well-executed, the film also features some exemplary cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle.
The Dead Don’t Die (Universal)
After his 2013 vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch puts his own wry spin on another iconic horror character, the zombie, in this droll comedy. Set in the small American town of Centerville, Bill Murray and Adam Driver play the town sheriff and his deputy, left facing off with a plague of the undead brought about after an environmental disaster. With appearances by the likes of Tom Waits, Iggy Pop and RZA, as well as Selena Gomez and Steve Buscemi, the cast is – excuse the pun – to die for.
Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas returns with what might be seen as his most personal film yet. For the first time in his career, he steps before the camera to play Juan, a poet married to Esther (Reygadas’ own spouse, and sometime editor, Natalia López), who runs a ranch that rears fighting bulls. Offering up a potent portrait of this dysfunctional couple’s volatile union – jealousy, open relations and infidelity feature – the leisurely three-hour running time may be too demanding for some but there’s much to admire here.
Alison Klayman previously made Never Sorry, the excellent documentary about Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and his continual battles with his government. Here, she turns to another highly politicized subject, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist. Following him across thirteen months after his acrimonious departure from the White House, as Bannon further spreads his extreme right-wing message across America and Europe and establishes a group called the Movement, the film offers a fascinating window onto his world.
Following swiftly on from the recent documentary Apollo 11, another non-fiction film about the moon landing arrives just in time for the 50th anniversary of man’s lunar triumph. This time the focus is Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who made that giant leap for mankind (and was so intriguingly played by Ryan Gosling in last year’s First Man). Narrated by Harrison Ford, and featuring never-before-seen footage of Armstrong, at home and at work, it arrives directed by David Fairhead, who previously made WW2 doc Spitfire.
All films released by 12 July.
Lead Image: Still from The Brink.