Winter is drawing to a close, but it’s still grim out there. Here are five of our favourite smart, dark and slightly odd films playing on the big screen right now.
Most quietly unnerving domestic drama:
This adaptation of Flaubert’s groundbreaking novel isn’t interested in putting a contemporary spin on the story – it’s a straightforward period drama about the desperate and doomed escapism of a provincial housewife. Mia Wasikowska plays Emma Bovary: a naive, aspirational and understandably bored young housewife, married to a village doctor. In pursuit of an interesting and exotic life, she falls heavily in debt and headlong into a series of disastrous romantic dalliances, digging herself further and further into a pit of despair. She’s not always likeable but she’s a victim of circumstance.
Palace Norton Street, Dendy Opera Quays
Best paranoid Venetian holiday thriller:
Don’t Look Now
As part of his season of classic British cinema at the Orpheum, David Stratton has dusted off this under-seen classic, the most paranoid of paranoid thrillers. After the sudden death of their daughter, John and Laura (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) escape to Venice, where a killer stalks the laneways. When a psychic tells the couple that their daughter’s ghost is still with them, and John begins to see her around every corner, things get odd. It’s beautifully shot and understated, and it has also recently been restored – that flowing blood has never looked so vividly red.
Best existentialist Algerian western:
Far From Men
Algeria, 1954. French soldier-turned-teacher Daru (Viggo Mortensen) is unwillingly drawn into the Algerian war when he’s tasked with escorting an outlaw across the Algerian mountains. Adapting Albert Camus’ existential short story The Guest into a politically aware western might not seem like an obvious idea, but the result is a sparse, slow-burning drama, evocatively scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Like a lot of westerns, it’s about unmoored men forced together by fate and weathered by scorching desert sun and dubious morals.
Palace Verona, Palace Norton Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Hayden Orpheum