ASFF selects five films set for release in UK cinemas this Friday. Hailing from America, Australia and France, the directors here are taking on a wide variety of genres, from chilling science fiction to feminist period love story to corporate whistleblower drama. Mining such themes as trust, loyalty and greed, these are all – for very different reasons – not to be missed.
Todd Haynes delivers a very un-Todd Haynes film, with this methodical tale of a lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) who spends years taking on manufacturing giant DuPont after he discovers they’ve been dumping chemicals in a West Virginia creek. Featuring Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins as dedicated co-stars, this is an engrossing story, handled with Haynes’ assured touch. If you don’t already know the DuPont story, you will be shocked be the revelations within.
The fourth film of her career, Céline Sciamma delivers what might be considered a near-perfect work. An 18th century lesbian romance between a painter and her subject, it features exquisite performances from Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel in the two main roles. Beautifully scripted, Sciamma subverts the male gaze here in a smart and telling way that feels utterly relevant to contemporary society. The French coastal setting also adds to a hugely accomplished drama.
Downhill (The Walt Disney Company)
Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, who previously directed 2013’s The Way Back, return with this snow capped marital comedy-drama, inspired by Ruben Östlund’s debut Force Majeure. Starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it is all set around a family on a skiing holiday at an Austrian resort. After Ferrell’s father-of-two reacts timidly when an avalanche almost causes carnage , the cracks begin to show. Funny, though not a patch on the original.
How cool is this? Cult director Richard Stanley is back, finally. The director of Dust Devil and Hardware, who was famously fired from the disaster that was The Island of Dr. Moreau, returns with this ghoulish H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. It features Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson as parents of a family whose farmstead gets invaded by an alien entity. Gets very weird very quickly, with some wonderful physical effects to boot. This just what Stanley fans have been waiting for.
Ned Kelly, the iconic Australian outlaw, has already been immortalised numerous times on film, with the likes of Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger playing the role. Now it’s the turn of 1917’s George MacKay, who takes the lead in this adaptation of Peter Carey’s book by Australian director Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed). With an impressive support cast, including Russell Crowe, Charlie Hunnam and Nicholas Hoult, it’s a stylised but gripping account of the myth and the man.
All films released on 28 February.