This weekend ASFF selects five films from around the world that open in UK cinemas. Hailing from Russia, Germany and America, it’s a case of something for everyone – with teenage explorers, Soviet rock stars, and fake American authors on show. Themes explored include political oppression, literary impersonation and sexual awakenings.
Kirill Serebrennikov’s rock’n’roll saga takes us back in the U.S.S.R – to Leningrad in the early Eighties – for a portrait of the underground music scene. With political oppression the norm, the story focuses on two musicians, Mike (Roman Bilyk) and Viktor (Teo Yoo), who lusts after his mentor’s wife Natasha (Irina Starshenbaum). Serebrennikov, who was under house arrest during post-production after being charged with embezzling $2 million in government funds, shoots in moody monochrome.
James Bobin, the British filmmaker behind the recent Muppets movies and Alice Through The Looking Glass, returns with Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Dubbed an ‘Indiana Jones for teens’, and adapted from a long-running Nickelodeon animated series, it stars Isabele Moner as Dora, a teenage adventurer who must save her parents and solve the mystery behind the lost city of gold. Michael Peña and Eva Longoria co-star in a film with songs aplenty and buckets of charm.
German director Christian Petzold adapts Anna Seghers’ 1942 book about a fugitive German in Paris who flees to Marseille after escaping from a concentration camp. Updating the settings to 21st Century, and modern dress, the film stars Franz Rogowski as Georg, who takes on the identity of an author when he finds his personal items in the hotel room where he was driven to suicide. Looking for a way out of Marseille, along with many others, it’s an entangled existential thriller from Petzold (Phoenix, Barbara).
Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill are credited as producers on this tween comedy, in what feels like a bad taste nod to their own classic Superbad. Jacob Tremblay (from Room) stars with Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams as a trio of pre-teens who call themselves the Beanbag Boys. They get invited to a spin-the-bottle party – where there may be kissing! – but before that, there’s a lot of sexual confusion, some angry teenage girls and a Stephen Merchant cameo to get through.
One of the 21st century’s great literary hoaxes plays out in this tale of how one Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart) masqueraded as the in-the-flesh persona of JT LeRoy, hot new author of Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, at the behest of Laura Alpert (Laura Dern), her brother’s girlfriend, who was responsible for the writing. Jim Sturgess, Courtney Love and Diane Kruger co-star, with the script co-written by Knoop and directed by Justin Kelly.
All films released by 16 August.
1. Still from Leto.