5 to See: This Weekend

ASFF selects five films set for release in UK cinemas this weekend. Arriving from Britain, America and Mexico, this diverse slate includes a biopic, a WW1 film and a surrealist epic, as the directors set out to explore such themes as heroism, radicalism, psychological trauma and addiction.

1917 (E1 Entertainment)

Sam Mendes’ World War I real-time thriller stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as two Lance Corporals entrusted to leave the trenches and deliver a vital message to save the lives of 1600 British troops. Filmed by the legendary Roger Deakins to give the illusion of one continuous tracking shot, this is a wartime movie like no other, plunging the viewer headfirst into the horrors of the Great War. Featuring a fine support cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and Mark Strong, this is a flat-out masterpiece from Mendes. 

Seberg (Universal)

Kristen Stewart delivers one of her best performances in years, as Jean Seberg – the American actress who found fame in Europe in the 1960s working with Jean-Luc Godard and then returned to her homeland, where her political support for the Black Panthers made her a target for the FBI. Benedict Andrews (Una) directs a sturdy biopic, with Anthony Mackie, Vince Vaughn and Jack O’Connell co-starring, alongside Joker’s Zazie Beetz and Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood’s Margaret Qualley. A tragic tale, elegantly told.

Uncut Gems (Netflix)

The Safdie Brothers, who gave Robert Pattinson the runaround in the superb Good Time return with another anxiety-riddled urban drama. Adam Sandler, in his best work since Punch-Drunk Love, rocks as a Jewish New York jeweler in the diamond district. Going on a hellish odyssey, involving NBA players, gangsters and his own family, it’s liable to leave you clutching your armrests, such is the tension, while the expletive-fuelled dialogue (422 f-bombs, apparently) put it on the all-time top 10 list of most sweary movies. Don’t miss.

The Runaways (Slackjaw)

Set in North Yorkshire, this British family adventure yarn written and directed by Richard Heap tells of three siblings – played by Molly Windsor, Macy Shackleton and Rhys Connah – who go on the run. Taking two donkeys with them from the family’s beach-side donkey-ride business owned by their single father (Mark Addy), the trio crosses the dramatic Yorkshire landscape in the hope of finding their estranged mother, played by Tara Fitzgerald.

El Topo (Arrow Films)

Three masterpieces from Chilean cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky are heading back to cinemas, restored and polished up, starting with his surrealist 1970 so-called “Mexican acid western.” Starring Jodorowsky himself as the eponymous gunfighter on a search for enlightenment, it’s laced with Christian and Eastern philosophy and comes packed with controversy (from its casting to its content). Unlike anything else you’ll ever see, just about everyone from David Lynch to Peter Gabriel from Genesis owes it a debt.

All films released on 10 January.

James Mottram

Lead Image: Still from Uncut Gems.