In the heyday of Hollywood, many movies were adaptations of books and pulp novels. The Asphalt Jungle was one of these and is largely credited with being the first major cinematic heist movie. It had all the elements we know today, including the meticulous planning of a high-stakes robbery and its execution.
★★★★☆ The chewing of khat leaves in Ethiopia is a tradition dating back centuries and is often used by Sufi Muslims as part of their religious experience. In Faya Dayi, which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Mexican-Ethiopian director, producer and cinematographer Jessica Beshir finds vivid inspiration in the practice.
★★★★☆ Adapted from her 2013 short of the same name, Swedish director Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature is an unflinching look at the 21st century porn industry. Featuring a knockout star performance from newcomer Sofia Kappel, Pleasure’s depiction of the reality of working in porn is lucid, often harrowing and occasionally tender.
★★★☆☆ A bland title – much like a bland line of conversation – can hide an abyss the way a household fridge can hide a corpse. François Ozon is a master at this kind of observational understatement that touches on something deeper. In his new film Everything Went Fine, it is the fine details that holds weight.
★★★★★ In 1961, while wealthy Milanese businessmen scaled the Pirelli Tower, Giulio Gècchele led the first expedition into its deepest abyss, Calabria’s 700-metre deep Abisso del Bifurto. For his third feature, Milan-born director Michelangelo Frammartino dramatises the expedition in a study of humanity’s hubris against nature’s immovable permanency.
★☆☆☆☆ After recusing himself from directing duties for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Colin Trevorrow is back to finish the job with this sixth instalment of the prehistoric franchise. The original Jurassic Park was replete with quotable lines: “Clever girl”, “Spared no expense” etc. With Dominion, this zinger from The Lost World feels more apt: “Oh, this is gonna be bad”.
★★★★☆ Lucile Hadžihalilović doesn’t make many films, Earwig being her third in almost twenty years. Yet in just three works (her previous being 2004’s Innocence and 2015’s Evolution), she has established herself as a filmmaker of uncompromising vision, the weird stories she tells focused on childhood, with strong elements of body horror.
★★★☆☆ Andrew Gaynord, best known for directing episodes of the TV comedy Stath Lets Flats, delivers his feature debut, written by the acting duo of Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton. All My Friends Hate Me is a comic horror film about the town versus gown tensions that come to a head when a university group enjoys a birthday reunion at their friend’s manor house.
★★★★☆ Having premiered at Cannes last year, Mia Hansen-Løve’s eighth feature makes its way onto UK screens. Bergman Island is at once an ambivalent love-letter to the Swedish master director Ingmar Bergman and a charming study of the complexities of relationships, the creative process, and the ways that one invariably influences the other.
★★★★☆ Following Ex Machina and Annihilation, writer and director Alex Garland returns to the green, green pastures of home with a new chiller on just how toxic masculinity can be. Jessie Buckley plays Harper, a woman in need of a retreat following the tragic end of her relationship with James (Paapa Essiedu).