5 to See: This Weekend

ASFF selects five films set for release in UK cinemas this Friday. Hailing from Korea, Britain and America, these movies span the gamut of genres, from social satire to science fiction/horror and historical drama. Among the rich array of themes explored: inequality, genocide and otherness.

Parasite (Curzon)

Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s multi award-winner, and six-time Oscar nominee, reaches these shores at last. Part social satire, part black comedy-thriller, this tale of the haves and have nots is a brilliantly constructed piece, loaded like a jack-in-the-box with surprises. Bong regular Song Kang-ho leads the cast, playing the patriarch of a poverty-stricken family that ingratiate themselves into the home of a wealthy tech CEO and his dependants. A hugely impressive work from the director of The Host and Okja.

Mr. Jones (Signature)

James Norton stars in this drama about a little-known Welsh journalist, Gareth Jones, who travelled to 1930s Stalin-era Russia to expose the shocking and harrowing man-made famine in the Ukraine. Directed by Polish veteran Agnieszka Holland, this stately tale features Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard in support, but the real star is Norton, who after his TV work in McMafia and the recent The Trial of Christine Keeler finally gets the movie lead that he deserves.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn (Warner Bros.)

Margot Robbie is back as the unhinged DC Comics creation Harley Quinn, last seen in Suicide Squad. Here, in this restless, batty tale from Cathy Yan, she strikes out on her own after splitting from her criminal lover, the Joker. Her crazed actions soon lead her into the orbit of a posse of gals, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s crossbow-firing Huntress, as well as Ewan McGregor’s evil nightclub owner. It’s got a Looney Tunes energy, led by Robbie’s mesmerising turn, even if the story doesn’t add up to much.

Dolittle (Universal)

In a post-Iron Man world, Robert Downey Jr. pitches up as Hugh Lofting’s creation, the doctor who can talk to the animals. That means lots of CGI critters, including a dog voiced by Spider-Man star Tom Holland, as the reclusive John Doolittle is brought out of his menagerie enclosure to help the ailing Queen of England (Jessie Buckley). With Michael Sheen and Jim Broadbent twirling their moustaches as the requisite villains, it’s a big, colourful and often chaotic jamboree.

Underwater (The Walt Disney Studios)

After her less-than-stellar Charlie’s Angels reboot, Kristen Stewart aims for another mainstream audience with this aquatic thriller from director William Eubank. As an earthquake causes water to seep through the walls of a drilling station seven miles below the ocean surface, the film morphs from survival thriller to science fiction/horror. Featuring T.J. Miller and Vincent Cassel in support.

All films released on 7 February.

James Mottram