Una (Rooney Mara) turns up at the workplace of Ray (Ben Mendelsohn). Fifteen years ago, Ray sexually abused her. He was jailed for it, and has since changed his name and started a new life, but she’s intent on confronting him. We delve in via flashback and conflicting ideas of how it went down, and how it’s shaped both of their lives. Based on acclaimed stage play Blackbird by David Harrower, this British film wears its theatre roots with pride – the bulk of the action happens in a pretty unspectacular warehouse staffroom, and the whole thing is led by intense performances from Mendelsohn and Mara. Mendelsohn in particular shines, hitting the balance between affable and cruel, sensitive and dangerously in denial.
Una is playing at Dendy Norton Street, Chauvel, Hayden Orpheum and the Randwick Ritz. Watch the trailer.
Rural England, 1800-and-something: a young woman (Katherine, played by Florence Pugh) finds herself in an arranged marriage with a brutish, drunken and barely present husband. She refuses to be ground down into wifely submission, and eventually begins an affair with groundsman Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), which descends into murderous plotting. Lady Macbeth is very British gothic, all frosty and morally repugnant, drawing on everything from Jane Eyre to Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The title is a reference to Shakespeare’s conspiratorial, murderous nobleman’s wife, and Florence Pugh (you might remember her from the excellent The Falling plays Katherine with grim, stubborn aplomb. Up to a point, Katherine’s actions feel entirely justified by her circumstances. Watching her go even further is a joy.
Lady Macbeth is playing at Dendy Opera Quays and Newtown. Watch the trailer.
Ansel Elgort is Baby, a baby-faced guy of few words permanently wearing a set of earbuds. He’s also a getaway driver for a gang of bank robbers led by Kevin Spacey, and including Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonzalez. All he wants to do is get out of the game and escape with his girl, Debora (Lily James). But just when he thinks he’s free, he’s reeled back in for one last job. If you take a premise as hammy and cliched as that, you need real conviction and skill to pull it off. Luckily, that's not a problem here. Baby Driver has a lot in common with other driving crime capers, such as Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978) and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011), but this is far more irreverent than either of those. It’s by writer-director Edgar Wright, of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame, and he’s on familiar territory: this is a powerhouse of frenetic action, comedy and pop-culture references, held together by manic editing and a banging soundtrack that just doesn’t stop.
Baby Driver opens on July 13. Watch the trailer.
Dogs in Space (1986)
This classic portrait of ’70s Melbourne’s punk scene should be compulsory viewing. It's as raucous and all over the place as the music scene it documents. The plot is … pretty thin. A gang of punk miscreants, led by an incredibly hot Michael Hutchence, lives in squalor in a Richmond terrace, stumbling between gigs and house parties to an incredible soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, Gang of Four and Primitive Calculators. Dogs in Space was critically sledged when it came out. It still has the power to polarise. It's relentless, and it never waits for you to catch up. But director Richard Lowenstein, and a lot of the players on screen, were there the first time around, so the seemingly over-the-top wild living has accuracy to it.
Dogs in Space is playing at Golden Age on July 8. Watch the trailer.