“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” In both the first and final frames of Logan, Hugh Jackman’s muscled, hirsute Wolverine wakes not alongside a beautiful woman nor at a school for mutants, but from a fitful sleep on the floor of a car. All glory, fame and pride are long gone as he, drunk, weary and seemingly on his very last legs, proceeds to eviscerate a group of gangbangers steeling the rims from the limo he now drives to earn money for self-medicating drugs and booze. It makes for a bold, bruising opening sequence.
Just a week after Moonlight graced UK cinema screens in all its feverish beauty, we’re treated to another hard-hitting US indie release that places black characters front and centre. However, though there are certainly parallels to be drawn between Barry Jenkins’ Oscar hopeful and Anna Rose Holmer’s narrative debut The Fits, neither should be defined by the race of their respective casts. Each feature questions universal issues of consciousness and sexuality, and tackles the hardships of growing up, peer pressure and belonging.
Documentary filmmaker Niall McCann’s Lost in France is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for a group of mid-1990s bands and musicians borne from the influential Glasgow record label Chemikal Underground. Both an ode to the industrial Scottish city from which they hail and a lament on the changing face and decline of musical creation in its purest form, the rather rambling journey on which we are taken is back to the Brittany countryside and tiny village of Mauron where the burgeoning groups assembled for a festival of sorts in 1997.
Given the times in which we live, making jokes about mail bombs to a postman could be seen as rather a poor show. Equally, telling your elderly mother you’ve taken on a new job moonlighting at an old people’s home, scaring residents to death (literally) for €50 a pop is borderline immoral. But such is the perceptive, compassionate, humanist skill and darkly comedic wit of German writer-director Maren Ade that her latest film, Toni Erdmann, is a deliciously morbid, frequently awkward, raucously funny critique of modern life’s senseless bullshit and a surprisingly affecting look at the love between a father and his daughter.
The understatement of Jeff Nichols’ Loving is conversely both its strongest asset and weakest link. Continuing an eclectic genre-hopping tour in the early stages of what will undoubtedly be a tremendous career in filmmaking, the writer-director moves away from the visually inventive psychological drama of Take Shelter, the gritty, poetic realism of Mud and the darkly Spielbergian sci-fi of Midnight Special to a story of racial and historical import; the lifelong love and struggles of Mildred and Richard Loving against discrimination as a mixed race couple through the Civil Rights era.
Have you ever wanted to see an elephant overcome stage fright and belt out Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing by Stevie Wonder to adoring fans? Or hear a gorilla twinkle the ivories to Elton John’s I’m Still Standing? Perhaps a mouse in a fedora and purple suit crooning to a little bit of ‘Ol Blue Eyes? Now’s your chance. Sing is the latest endeavour by Illumination Entertainment, the animation studios who brought us Minions and the Despicable Me series.
“She sees everything but is totally blind,” says Jacques Derrida crossing a New York City street as Kirsten Johnson tracks him with her camera walking backwards, half stumbling in the process. The French philosopher thinks himself frightfully clever with this witticism at the Big Apple-based filmmaker’s expense but a viewer of her latest work, Cameraperson, may take issue with a claim that she is anything but a true visionary.
Does a picture really paint a thousand words? When something is written down, does that make it true? With an increasingly spellbinding command of cinema’s visual language and capability, placing him firmly in the rarefied air of the most gifted filmmakers of our time, Chilean director Pablo Larraín muses upon these ideas in new offering Jackie, sifting them with an unwavering hand through one of the most horrific events of the 20th century.
Spanning thirty years, three continents and a myriad of lies and mistruths, the facts of the case in Karin Steinberger and Marcus Vetter’s absorbing true crime documentary The Promise are anything but clear. Speaking in its latter stages from a common room at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia, Jens Söring – the film’s principal subject and a man convicted of double homicide – states: “I was terribly in love with this woman.”
As the ripples of Russian governmental intervention in the US elections crashed across the airwaves last week, chipping away at a stony-faced Putin and turning The Donald’s putrid mien a more embarrassed shade of orange, the faint sound of Alex Gibney’s hands wringing with polemical glee could be heard from the famed documentarian’s home.