ASFF selects five films set for release in UK cinemas this Friday. Coming from Britain, America and China, this selection of documentary, feature films and video collages offer a diverse array of artistic expression. From horror remakes to classic literary adaptations and – in one case a mix of both – the directors plunder such themes as memory, trauma and identity.
The Personal History of David Copperfield (Lionsgate)
Armando Iannucci directs his third feature, following In The Loop and The Death of Stalin. This is on the gentler end of the spectrum, a dreamy adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1850 novel starring Dev Patel in the title role. Featuring a superb all-star support cast – Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi among them – Iannucci’s take draws out the humour in this picaresque journey through Victorian London, as David goes from orphan to author. A real tonic compared to the usual stuffy period dramas from the BBC.
The Grudge (Sony Pictures)
The Ring, Dark Water, One Missed Call, Pulse…Hollywood has frequently borrowed from so-called J-Horror, those super-scary chillers coming out of Japan, for remakes. Now we have The Grudge, based on 2002’s Ju-On: The Grudge by Takashi Shimizu, who already remade his film in America in 2004, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. This time, they’ve let Nicolas Pesce (who last adapted Piercing for the screen) take a crack, in what is meant to be a story set around events of those earlier films. Andrea Riseborough and Demián Bichir star.
From The Innocents to The Nightcomers to The Others, Henry James’ classic ghost tale The Turn of the Screw has inspired numerous film and TV adaptations. This latest effort comes from Floria Sigismondi, the photographer and music video director who made the excellent biopic The Runaways with Kristen Stewart a decade ago. Starring Mackenzie Davis, who was just about the best thing in Terminator: Dark Fate, and Brooklynn Prince, who was so great in The Florida Project, this positively drips in Gothic grimness.
Directed by Shengze Zhu, this video essay explores a fascinating topic in modern-day China, the explosion of live-streaming platforms. Featuring content provided by twelve Chinese streamers, the film asks us to consider the ways in which new technology has allowed us to reach out for connection and seek out affirmation through the digital realm. Given the Chinese government’s continual crackdown on such personal expression, it’s an intriguing look at online rebellion.
A documentary guaranteed to have you singing, humming, tapping your toes and snapping your fingers, Simon Sheridan’s film explores the story of The Real Thing, the Liverpool-based soul and funk band. Dubbed ‘the black Beatles’ by the tabloids, back in the 1976, they became the first ever all-black British band to hit the top of the charts with the infernally catchy ‘You To Me Are Everything’. With plenty of archive footage and fresh interviews, expect this to be a real blast down memory lane.
All films released on 24 January.
Main Image: Still from The Turning.