A three-day weekend is the perfect time to catch up on those films you’ve been meaning to get around to. You know, the one with the witch in the woods, the Tilda Swinton one, and the one where the puppets fall in love in a four-star hotel.
A Bigger Splash
The latest from Italian director Luca Guadagnino takes its name from David Hockney’s iconic painting, and borrows its colour palette, too. A Bigger Splash focuses on an awkward tangle of love and sex on the southern Italian island of Pantelleria. A rock star and her boyfriend (Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts) have their holiday rudely interrupted by a visit from an old lover (Ralph Fiennes) and his newly discovered daughter (Dakota Johnson), who do their best to destroy the lovers’ idyl.
But the film is so much more than that. It’s incredibly beautiful to look at. Tilda Swinton is completely captivating, even though she says hardly a word. Ralph Fiennes dances up a storm to the Rolling Stones’ Emotional Rescue. And as the tension in the group hits a fever pitch, it becomes at least as tense and real as it is saturated and colourful.
A Bigger Splash is showing at Cinema Nova, Palace Kino and Palace Como.
In the bleak, wintery 17th-century American wilderness, a poor family struggles to establish a new home on the fringes of a forest. When the baby is kidnapped, things escalate. It seems odd to describe a claustrophobic, grimy film about a family being terrorised by superstition and isolation as “a breath of fresh air”, but that’s what I’m going to do.
After a decade of sequels and remakes more interested in cheap shocks than real fear, here’s a film that brings the horror back to horror. It takes the fairytale-like premise of a child-snatching witch in the woods, and fills it with steadily building dread. The Witch isn’t a popcorn flick. It burns slowly, takes itself seriously and aims to leave you with a lasting terror, rather than shock you out of your seat.
The Witch is showing at the Jam Factory, Cinema Nova and Lido Cinemas.
Don’t miss this special re-release of the 2002 art-house masterpiece. Staged in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russian Ark is a 90-minute film recorded in a single shot as an unnamed, unseen narrator finds himself walking through a living, breathing museum of Russia’s history. It jumps around time periods as easily we walk through doors, through decadence and squalor, war and peace, alluding to its own staginess throughout. It’s always going to be remembered for its technical achievements – 90 minutes without a single take is amazing, as is choreographing a cast of more than 2000. It’s an extremely absorbing, fluid piece of cinema, and this is a rare chance to see it on the big screen.
Russian Ark is showing at Cinema Nova.
Charlie Kaufman, made his name as the writer of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He’s a master of surreal, complex comic dramas. Then he went quiet for a bit, and returned with his directorial debut, the deeply weird and divisive Synecdoche, New York.
Many will be pleased that his new film, Anomalisa, is a return to the romantic honesty of his earlier work. It’s still bloody weird, though. A stop-motion animation that uses 3D-printed puppets, Anomalisa concerns Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a travelling inspirational speaker and one-man pity party suffering from the Fregoli delusion. To say anything more would spoil this singular piece of filmmaking. It is smart, honest and heartbreakingly sweet. Basically, it has Charlie Kaufman written all over it.
Anomalisa is showing at Cinema Nova.