This weekend ASFF selects five films that are set to open in UK cinemas. One documentary and four features, including new movies from Sam Taylor-Johnson and Joanna Hogg, a strong theme emerges across a number of these titles: art, creation, memory and origin stories.
A Million Little Pieces (Entertainment One)
Sam Taylor-Johnson and her husband, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, reunite on film for their first feature since 2009’s Nowhere Boy. With both collaborating on the screenplay, it’s a stirring adaptation of James Frey’s 2003 memoir about addiction, rehab and recovery (which was controversially exposed as being partially fabricated). Taylor-Johnson largely chooses to ignore this, while her spouse brings his usual muscular energy to the role of Frey. Billy Bob Thornton, as a fellow addict, is the stand-out among a strong support cast.
Joanna Hogg, director of Unrelated and Exhibition, returns with the best film of her career. Delving into her own memories as a student filmmaker in the 1980s, she cast Honor Swinton Byrne as Julie, an aspiring director from a wealthy background who lives in a Mayfair flat at the time of the Harrods bombing. The real crux, though, is her relationship with the older, mysterious Anthony (Tom Burke), who hides as much as he reveals. Tilda Swinton – Honor’s real-life mother and Hogg’s old friend – also co-stars.
Adapted from the novel Three Seconds by Swedish crime-writing team Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström, The Informer is a lean thriller from Andrea Di Stefano, director of 2014’s Escobar: Paradise Lost. Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad) plays a former criminal forced to go undercover in a Polish gang for the FBI in exchange for a shorter sentence. Needless to say, it doesn’t go well. An impressive cast – Clive Owen, Rosamund Pike, Common – adds to the gritty authenticity conjured by Stefano.
Taken from the 2013 stage play by Martyn Hesford, Mrs Lowry & Son is a virtual two-hander, featuring two of the finest actors of their respective generations: Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall. Set in 1934, mostly in a terraced house in Pendelbury, it deals with the life of artist L.S. Lowry, played by Spall, and in particular his tumultuous relationship with his bed-bound mother (Redgrave), who tried to dissuade him from following his passion. Adrian Noble (The Importance of Being Earnest) directs.
Alexandre O. Philippe is one of the more original documentary directors working today, whether it’s examining Psycho’s shower scene from all angles or fan disenchantment with George Lucas. Here, he digs deep into Ridley Scott’s Alien, looking at the inspirations for one of the most influential sci-fi horror films of all time. While he doesn’t get Scott on the record, his mix of interviewees (including two of the stars, Veronica Cartwright and Tom Skerritt) is illuminating, enough to make you rethink a classic you thought you knew inside out.
All films released by 30 August.