In Cinemas Now
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (12A.)
Directed by Tim Burton.
Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Terence Stamp and Judi Dench. 127 mins.
This is a film that is about people who are stuck in a time loop, a cosy little bubble, where they get to happily and successfully repeat the same party tricks and idiosyncrasies over and over again, untouched by the outside world. A mildly cynical person might suggest that this is a perfect subject for a Tim Burton film, a man who has been peddling much the same dark visions throughout a thirty-year directing career. A very cynical person might suggest that that would be to vastly over estimate the quality of his film making for the last decade and a half which have been dark shadows of the stuff that made him famous.
The Magnificent Seven (12A.)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-Hun, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard. 133 mins
The remake of the Magnificent Seven is a western made in the new old fashioned way. Although the western was pronounced dead at least three decades ago, they keep popping up from time to time, but not like this. Fuqua's take is not revisionist or deconstructionist or elegiac or horror hybrid or contemporary spaghetti or Tarantinoesque, it is a cowboy film as cowboy films used to be: a big mainstream entertainment. In those terms it succeeds better than most of the summer's blockbuster offerings.
The Girl With All The Gifts (15.)
Directed by Colm McCarthy.
Starring Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Fisayo Akinade and Anamaria Marinca. 111 mins
The zombie apocalypse remains the culture's preferred end-of-it-all fantasy, and one that the British have traditionally been rather good at: Shaun of the Dead, Dead Set, even, Cockneys vs Zombies. The most thoroughly British of British zombie films is Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, a film so PC it refused to label its packs flesh eating creatures Zombies: they may rip apart human flesh but there’s no need for them to be stigmatised. The Girl With is another rather fine and well-mannered zombie movie, and just as in 28 Days Later the menace isn't from the undead, but creatures who have become flesh eaters due to a virus.
The Lovers and the Despot (PG.)
Directed by Ross Adam, Robert Cannan.
Featuring Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok. 96 mins
Movie buffs are generally not the type of person one wants to associate with, on account of them of them being a bit nerdy and not comfortable in social situation. This principle is perfectly exemplify by history's most fanatical film buff, Kim Jong-il. The communist equivalent of Little Lord Fauntleroy, he grew up in seclusion, not allowed to play with other children as he was groomed for dictatorship and in such a bubble he instinctively turned to the movies for inspiration. So while he was still waiting to become the Dear Leader he kidnapped the south's most famous star and director to make film's for him.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (12A.)
Directed by Taika Waititi.
Starring Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne and Rhys Darby. 101 mins
A few weeks ago when a critic-selected list of the best films of the century so far, the one with Mulholland Drive at number one, was announced many real people complained that it was just full of obscure, boring films that critics liked and none that real people liked (except Mad Max: Fury Road and as it's on that list you're not so sure about that one now.) This week you are going to see lots of rave reviews from film critics about a New Zealand film with an odd title from a director with a hard to pronounce name and I'd just like to take this opportunity to reassure all you real people out there that this time, we know what are talking about: we speak for you all. You're going to love this - probably be one of your films of the year.
Bridget Jones's Baby (15.)
Directed by Sharon Maguire.
Starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Solemani, Jim Broadbent and Emma Thompson. 123 mins
Renee Zellwegger may no longer bear much resemblance to Renee Zellwegger but she still, more or less, looks and sounds like Bridget Jones. More importantly, after the misfiring second film, this third instalment looks and sounds just about as good as the first one, which is the really very good indeed.
Blair Witch (15.)
Directed by Adam Wingard.
Starring James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry and Brandon Scott. 89 mins
After 17 years in which the found footage/ shaky cam horror gimmick has been done to death, the director of the much admired The Guest, has decided to go back to the source. In doing so, he and scriptwriter Simon Barrett have tried to second guess the audience's answer to the question, “And how would you like your new Blair Witch film?” The answer they've come up with is, “Same again with bells on, please.”
Two Women (U.)
Directed by Vera Glagoleva.
Starring Anna Vartanyan, Ralph Fiennes, Sylvie Testud, Aleksandr Baluev, Larisa Malevannaya and Bernd Moss. In Russian with subtitles. 104 mins
The opening credits inform us that this is an adaptation of Turgenev's play A Month In The Country: the opening ten minutes tell us that the film intends to make us feel every second of it. Oh turgid, turgid, Turgenev. I suppose Asterix never made it to Russia in his adventures but surely if he had he would have encountered a Turgenev, the cliched doom laden Russian, running a special Russian inversion of a bordello where gentlemen would go to have starch put into their collars by distraught ladies who would then go running around in the corn fields wailing.
Captain Fantastic. (15.)
Directed by Matt Ross.
Starring Viggo Mortensen, George McKay, Samantha Isler, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, and Frank Langella. 119 mins.
Viggo Mortensen is Captain Fantastic, a counter culture figure raising his family of six kids in the wilds of the Rockies and teaching them survival skills; the classics of literature and philosophy; and to think for themselves. Which all sounds like something Viggo Mortensen would do. Then he hears that his hospitalised wife has died and his father in law, Langella, will call the police if he attempts to attend the funeral: which sounds like a thing Langella would do. So it's time for a road trip in the family bus – because that is how eccentric outsiders resolve things in Hollywood films.
Kubo and The Two Strings (PG.)
Directed by Travis Knight.
Featuring Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara and George Takei. 102 mins.
Anyone who goes into animation is surely not someone predisposed to making things easy for themselves. Even with computers it is protracted and frustrating work. You'd need to be some kind of obsessive to commit yourself to it. (Perhaps this why animators - going back to the days of Walt Disney to The Sausage Party controversy where animators were forced to work unpaid overtime – always seem to get treated badly. Everybody regards them with the kind of contempt reserved for nerds and trainspotters.) That goes double for anyone involved in the painstaking process of stop motion animation, and double and then some for anyone working for stop motion specialists Laika who seem to bend over backwards to make life difficult.
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov.
Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbel, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, Pilou Asbæk and Morgan Freeman. 123 mins
This remake of the oft told tale of brotherly rivalry in the Roman Empire rides into town like a biker in a Born To Lose leather jacket. “So what are ya remaking?” “I dunno, whadda ya got?” It's as if Hollywood has some kind of reverse OCD to original ideas: where there is order they have a compulsive need to mess it up. The irony is, of course, that a no star cast remake from the director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is surely a far more risky project than almost any original script that might find itself passing across a desk at Paramount. I imagine someone in a prop department in Hollywood is now building an over sized boot to be directed at whoever was responsible for greenlighting it.
Hell or High Water (15.)
Directed by David Mackenzie.
Starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham and Marin Ireland. 102 mins.
With one massive exception, Cormac McCarthy has not fared well in the movies. Hell and High Water is certainly not a McCarthy piece (the title is the wrong kind of blunt and dull) but it does take an entertaining and enormously effective stroll through some of his preferred territory: a modern day Texas where the western archetypes that forged the country are trying to deal with a landscape that is more brutal and savage than in the wild west days.
Things to Come (15.)
Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve.
Starring Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Roman Kolinka, Edith Scob, Sarah Le Picard, Solal Forte. In French with subtitles. 102 mins.
Isabelle Huppert is a French acting institution; she's kind of like their Barbara Windsor. From their saucy youthful exploits – bikini top popping open in Carry on Camping, baring her arse to some cattle for Godard – the respective nations have been emotionally invested in their life journeys. Of course, being French, Huppert's journey has been much more intellectual and high brow than that of our Bab's (and she's never done an advert for Jackpot Joy Bingo.) Both have become performers whose presence transcends that of the material. Huppert is an actress, and a damn fine one, but now it seems like she herself is the work of the art, and the films she appears in are the latest gallery in which it is to be displayed.
Directed by Meera Menon.
Starring Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Thomas and Samuel Rourkin. 100 mins
In a contest for worse movie titles you'd have to go pretty low to beat Equity, if only because of the slight chance that it might actually be about the actors' union. The reality isn't necessarily much more enticing – a female focused Wall Street drama about a successful banker (Gunn) who is still trying to crack the glass ceiling. Her status has been weakened by a recent career wobble, so she needs to be wary of her ambitious younger colleague (Thomas), an old friend who is now a prosecutor investigating financial malpractice and her occasional boyfriend (Purefoy) a hedge fund manager in need of a good tip.
War Dogs (15.)
Directed by Todd Phillips.
Starring Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, Kevin Pollak, JB Blanc and Bradley Cooper. 114 mins.
Warner Brothers can't see a good title without wanting to change it. So they buy a book called All You Need Is Kill, make a great sci-fi actioner out of it only to rename it Edge of Tomorrow and wonder why nobody went to see it. This black comedy about two stoner twenty something arms dealers who made a fortune procuring weapons for the US military used to be called Arms and The Dude, a cracking title which immediately grabbed your interest. It's atitle you will give a bit slack to. But the Bros had to change it, and not even to War Pigs which is what I keep calling it, because it seems like a better title, than the almost self-erasingly unmemorable War Dogs. Perhaps it is some kind of health and safety issue: the change was provoked by fears that a film starring a retubbed Hill and the least likeable member of the Fantastic Four cast would provoke a dangerous stampede of people in cinema foyers.
The Purge: Election Year (15.)
Directed by James DeMonaco.
Starring Frank Grillo, Elisabeth Mitchell, Mykeiti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel and Terry Serpico. 109 mins
Bernie Saunders doesn't make horror/ thrillers vaguely reminiscent of the films of John Carpenter, but if he did... I doubt he'd make The Purge: Election Year. But one of his less sophisticated supporters might well do – actually, he probably has. In its third installment the political themes implicit in the premise of an America run by the New Founding Fathers (NFF) which has an annual purge night where for 12 hours any crime can be committed with impunity, are brought bluntly but entertaining to the fore.
Directed by Pedro Almodovar.
Starring Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti and Rossy de Palma. Spanish with subtitles. 99 mins
After his attempt to go back to the irreverent comedy of his younger days, I'm So Excited, turned out to be a little bit of a disaster, Pedro Almodovar's latest sees him address himself to his position as one of Europe's leading film makers. It's a serious, grown up effort, based on some short stories by Nobel prize winner Alice Munro, but with a streak of his usual irreverence. He seems to be reaching higher than he ever has before, but without rejecting where he came from. He's making great art, but he isn't out to make the audience suffer. For his characters though, it's a different matter.
David Brent: Life On The Road (15.)
Directed by Ricky Gervais.
Starring Ricky Gervais, Doc Brown, Jo Hartley, Tom Bennett and Andrew Brooke. 96 mins.
Ricky Gervais is not a loveable figure, and even though I've enjoyed a lot of his work I don't have anything invested in his success. His whole comic persona is based on him being smug, successful beyond merit and punchably annoying. Maybe, just maybe, I'd be happy to see him fall flat on his face. His great redeeming feature though is having created and played one of the all time great sitcom characters and if he knows anything, he knows how to play David Brent, possibly to a painful degree. And here he's gone and risked it all by putting his TV comic creation on the big screen, a move that even when it works never really works. (And after concluding the series so perfectly, too.) But, if he'd been lurking in the foyer afterwards I think I would've gone up to him and given him a hug and awkwardly fist pumped or some such silliness because he's gone and done it.
The Childhood of a Leader (15.)
Directed by Brady Corbet.
Starring Berenice Bejo, Liam Cunningham, Stacy Martin, Yolande Moreau, Tom Sweet and Robert Pattinson. 115 mins. Partly subtitled.
This is a film that will doubtless exert a magnetic appeal to the word “pretentious” in reviews but from its first moment I felt myself rising gleefully to the challenge of this dimly lit, po-faced drama and went with it happily to it euphoric and deliriously bleak finale. It's a kind geo-political version of The Omen, set in the aftermath of the First World War; an American family temporarily settled in France find themselves disturbed and distressed by the outrageous tantrums of their young son and the film mirrors the personality of it's leading figure – stern, unrelenting, demanding and full of its own importance, but backed up be a malevolent self- assurance.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask (18.)
Directed by Woody Allen. (1972.)
Starring Woody Allen, Gene Wilder, Louise Lasser, Tony Randall, Burt Reynolds, Lynn Redgrave, Anthony Quayle and John Carradine. 88 mins. Available on Blu-ray, seperately or as part of the Woody Allen: Six Films 1971-1978 box set from Arrow Academy.
These days everybody wants to about know Woody Allen's sex life but are afraid of what they might find out. We prefer to forget that in his earlier funny film his slightly seedy preoccupation with sex was actually one of the things we liked about him. To some extent that was down to the times, the era of sexual liberation and discovery, when the bright and articulate fought against the repressed and the square because they were certain that sex could only be a life force for good. It was also because the sexual ambitions of this weedy little guy were rather heroic, and his comic insights into sex and relationships were often the most truthful, and the most funny. He was also adept at balancing out his sexual successes and failures – the chump who is always rejected eventually becomes as dull and predictable as an all conquering stud. On screen he had a healthy balance of both.
Warners Brothers Iconic Moments Collection.
This month Warners have launched a list of 22 (mostly) classic titles that are being re-released with new cover artwork built around one of the most memorable lines from the film. Now for some of these the choice is pretty obvious: if you don't know what they have chosen for Dirty Harry, Gone With The Wind, 300 and The Shining then don't stop walking till you reach the back of the class. I was going to include Casablanca in that list but actually “Here's looking at you, kid,” probably only gets in because “Play it again, Sam,” is a misquote, and even then, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” must run it close.
Woody Allen: six Films 1971 - 1978 (18.)
Bananas (1971), Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask (1972), Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), Annie Hall (1977) and Interiors (1978.) Directed by Woody Allen. 527 mins. Available on Blu-ray
Or The Early Funny Ones. Or more precisely: four of the early funny ones, the indisputable masterpiece and the first serious one. The funny ones that are missing are both pretty funny: Allen's debut Take The Money And Run, a mockumentary about bank robber built around gags and routines from his stand up days that was made by a different company and seems to have come adrift from his other films; Play It Again Sam which, even though it was adapted from his play and featured the first on screen pairing with Diane Keaton, doen't count as a Woody because it was directed by Herbert Ross.
Directed by Woody Allen. 1971.
Starring Woody Allen, Louise Lasser. 82mins. Out on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy, separately or as part of the Woody Allen: Six Films 1971 – 1978 boxset.
This is not his first film: in the sixties he'd made Take The Money And Run which was basically a visualisation of his stand up act as well as “directing” What's Up Tiger Lily, a redubbing of a Japanese film. But, when the credits roll it is clear that we are witnessing the start of a cosy, comfortable routine that would roll on, year in, year out for more than four decades with very few changes. United Artists are the company as they would be on all their films until they went under, and the familiar names of Charles H Joffe and Jack Rollins are listed as producers, as they would be on every Allen's project right up until their deaths in 2008 and 2015 respectively.
Paths Of Glory (U.)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick. 1957.
Starring Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Joseph Turkel, Timothy Carey and Richard Anderson. Black and White. 83 mins. Released on blu-ray by Eureka! Part of the Masters of Cinema series.
I don't know when 88 became such a big deal outside of white supremacist circles but there has been a flurry of Stanley Kubrick activity on either side of what would've been his 88th birthday. There was a big screen re-issue of Barry Lyndon, the Criterion collection release of Dr Strangelove, Warners included 2001, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket in their Iconic Moments collection and there was the art exhibition Day Dreaming With Stanley Kubrick. (Day dreaming – with Stanley Kubrick, why would you day dream with Stanley Kubrick? That is dysfunctinal irony.)
The Blue Dahlia (PG.)
Directed by George Marshall. 1946.
Starring Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard Da Silva, Doris Dowling and Tom Powers. Black and white. 97 mins. Out on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
The Blue Dahlia is a film noir from the classic era of film noir, but that doesn't make it a classic film noir. In it baby faced tough guy Alan Ladd, a Haircut 100 Robert Mitchum, returns to LA from the war to find his wife (Dowling) is a lush holding wild parties in their home. Later that night she is murdered and Ladd, the chief suspect, has to try and avoid the police while trying to find the real murderer.
The Commitments (15.)
Directed by Alan Parker. 1991
Starring Robert Arkins, Michael Aherne, Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle, Dave Finnegan, Bronagh Gallagher, Felim Gormley, Glen Hansard, Dick Massey, Johnny Murphy, Kenneth McCluskey, Andrew Strong and Colm Meaney. 117 mins.
The worst thing about the collaborative nature of filmmaking is that there are so many different parts and aspects to it and any one of them can derail the process. The best thing is that sometimes, just sometimes, everything comes together and creates something that transcends the abilities of the people involved. Now, many very talented people were involved in making this film – such as future Booker prize winner Roddy Doyle, scriptwriters Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, director Alan Parker – and probably quite a few not especially talented ones too. But I'd bet almost all of them would look back at what they did here and think that it represented the very best of them. Maybe they’ve gone on to do things as good, but surely not better. So watching this you are literally dropping in on people having the time of their lives.
The Night Of The Shooting Stars (12A.)
Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. 1982
Starring Omero Antonutti, Margarita Lozano, Claudio Bigagli, Massimo Bonetti, Norma Martelli and Enrica Maria Modugno. Italian subtitles. 103 mins.
There is only one thing worse than living under occupation – the period when that is coming to an end. This is the situation facing the villagers of San Minato in the summer of 1944: the Americans are approaching and the remaining Nazis and Black Shirt collaborators are trigger happy and desperate. Rather than gather in the Cathedral as the Nazis suggest, a group of villagers decide to head off into the countryside and try to make their way to the liberating force.
Three Films By Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (15.)
Padre Padrone (1977)/ The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982)/ Kaos (1984.) A dual format Blu-ray/ DVD boxset from Arrow Academy.
It often happens that a country will become film hotspot, producing a sudden rush of directors and films over a short time span that gets it noticed around the world, or at least around the world of film reviewers. So for a year or two Romania, Iran or South Korea will be under the spotlight, before the glut of “difficult” follow up films comes along to gently shoo away the interest. Which all gives some context to the incredible productivity of Post-War Italian cinema which for the best part of four decades turned out remarkable directors and remarkable films – De Sica, Rossellini, Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni, Pasolini, Rosi, Bertolucci and Leone – and did so year in, year out. Given that pedigree, perhaps it is understandable that the Brothers Taviani have been overlooked and forgotten – understandable, but unforgiveable.
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. (1983.)
Starring Oleg Yankovskiy, Erland Josephson and Domiziana Giordano. 125 mins
If, like myself, you have Irish heritage, you'll know that whenever ex-pats get together all they want to do is talk about Ireland. After finishing Stalker, the director Andrei Tarkovsky, but not his family, was allowed to leave the Soviet Union to explore the idea of making a film set in Italy. And what did he want to do in this exciting new location? Make a film about missing Russia and the wrench of being estranged from the homeland. And he hadn't even left yet. The terrible thing about the resulting thing is that it validates all his fears and misery about leaving – it is a travesty of his Russian films, and is so mostly because he had become entirely infected by western decadence and self indulgence.
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. 1979
Starring Aleksandr Kajdanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko and Alisa Freindlikh. 163 mins. Russian with subtitles. Released on Blu-ray and DVD by Curzon Artificial Eye.
There is a point midway through Stalker that is surely the quintessential Tarkovsky moment. The Zone is a guarded, forbidden area, filled with dangers where years earlier an extra terrestrial visitation occurred. Three men, led by a stalker, have entered the Zone in order to visit The Room, a place where your deepest, innermost wishes will be granted. Eventually they make it to the building that encloses The Room, it's a few hundred metres away, over a tame looking stretch of grass. So, do they go straight there? No, of course they bloody don't. The Stalker tells them the only safe way is a lengthy path that takes them well out of their way, through running water and a tunnel of terror. This is Tarkovsky: nothing is simple, nothing is easy and nothing is straightforward and the roundabout route is always the route to be taken.
Sid and Nancy (18.)
Directed by Alex Cox. 1986.
Starring Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, Andrew Schofield, Xander Berkley and David Hayman. 112 mins. 30th Anniversary re-release.
All actors playing a famous musician have to try and deal with a seemingly insurmountable problem: no matter how hard they try to mimic their subject's abilities, they're not going to be as good. In this biopic of Sid Vicious, Gary Oldman has the opposite problem – he always seems to be a little bit too together in his musical performances. He knows all the lyrics for example, (particularly ridiculous when he's performing the wordy Somethin' Else) and his singing of My Way is a little too tuneful.
The Killing$ of Tony Blair (12A.)
Directed by Sanne van der Bergh, Greg Ward.
Featuring George Galloway, Peter Oborne, Lauren Booth, Seamus Milne, Will Self, Noam Chomsky, Clare Short and Ken Livingstone. 92 mins
This crowd funded documentary presents us with a look at a despicable, self aggrandising, self deluding, hypocritical, traitorous, political opportunist who will suck up to anyone if he feels it is expedient. And that Tony Blair doesn't come out of it too well either.
The In-Laws (12A.)
Directed by Arthur Hiller. 1979.
Starring Alan Arkin, Peter Falk, Richard Libertini, Nancy Dussault, James Hong, Ed Begley Jr and David Paymer. 103 mins. Released on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection.
The In-Laws is a film that I have been waiting to see for over three decades – not desperately, just on the backburner, but one day I had to see. I'm not quite sure how it put its hook in me, but the image of it being reviewed, lukewarmly, on Nationwide when it was released and them showing the “serpentine” scene had stuck in my head: plus the fact that Brando was such a fan of the film, he agreed to send up his Godfather performance in The Freshman, directed by writer Andrew Bergman. It has that reputation as a film that if you get it, you really get it.
They Might Be Giants (15.)
Directed by Anthony Harvey. 1971
Starring George C. Scott, Joanne Woodward, Jack Gilford, Rue McClanahan and Lester Rawlins. 82 mins.
Or, alternatively, they might not. This cult movie from the early seventies is about a rich man who is convinced he is Sherlock Holmes (Scott) slowly trying to persuade his Doctor Watson, Mildred (Woodward) the psychiatrist who is supposed to certify him and allow his unscrupulous brother (Rawlins) to get his hands on his money, to become part of his delusional battle with Moriarty. The film has a loyal following, and inspired the You're-Not-The-Boss-Of-Me band of the same name, but I found it almost unbearable. The title is from Don Quixote and it's another paean to the innocent wonders of insanity, casting a severe paranoiac as a noble pursuer of a higher truth. In that it concerns a deluded man inspiring others to join him in a lofty noble quest through the not so lofty and noble streets of New York (early 70s New York, looking incredibly rundown) it is surely an inspiration for the Fisher King.
David Cronenberg's Early Works (15.)
Transfer (6mins)/ Out of The Drain (13 mins) /Stereo (62 mins)/ Crimes of The Future (62 mins.) 1966- 1970. Out on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Videos.
Watching the early work of David Cronenberg it struck me that most artistic careers are ultimately a pathway of decline. One starts with a sense of limitless ability; a sure and certain sense of your own genius; which gradually drops away until you slide down to a more realistic assessment of your abilities. The early films of the man who would go on to make Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome, The Fly, Crash and A History of Violence, are precious affairs full of the fantasies of adolescent pretensions and counter culture affectations. But he got enough from the experience to stick with this film making lark and within half a decade and he had found himself reduced to the level of exploitation horror film maker, a level from which he really would make great art.
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. 1972
Starring Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Juri Jarvet, Nikolay Grinko and Anatoliy Solonitsyn. In Russian with subtitles. Out on Blu-ray from Curzon Artificial Eye. 166 mins.
Solaris is a landmark science fiction movie that is terrible science fiction. Tarkovsky’s first film in colour (well, mostly in colour) is full of that rich, lush imagery that would become his trademark. Give him trees, water and fire to film and it's magical; spaceships and rockets utterly defeat him.
Becoming Zlatan. (12A.)
Directed by Magnus Gertten and Fredrik Gertten.
Featuring Zlatan Ibrahmovic Leo Beenhakker, Hasse Borg, Fabio Capello, David Endt and Mido Ahmed Hossam Hussain. Out on DVD and digital download from Studiocanal. 96 mins.
The title is surely ironic. Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahmovic is many things – gifted, arrogant and on his very, very, very best days arguably the world's third best player – but he is rarely becoming. A Steven Seagal look-alike, he clumps around the pitch, rarely moving at a speed fast enough to get his ponytail to anything above half mast, looking vaguely dismissive of all the huffing and puffing going on around him.