LADY MACBETH (2017)
If you like quiet thrillers, this is absolutely perfect. Based on the novella by Nikolai Leskov, Lady Macbeth follows the story of a young woman whose life and land are sold to an abusive father and son, the latter of which she’s wed to in order to secure their ownership. William Oldroyd’s feature-length debut is a masterclass of cinematic storytelling, with sparse dialogue and audio creating a tense, uncomfortable mood from beginning to end. Elevated by a mesmerizing performance by Florence Pugh (who showed great promise in the equally brilliant The Falling), Lady Macbeth carries a discomforting portrayal of abuse and iniquity that is bound to linger even after the credits roll. Never has a music sting felt more unwelcome than here.
The kind of film you didn’t know you wanted until you see it, Mindhorn is a throwback to the camp detective shows of the 1980s (his robot eye gives him the remarkable ability to see… the truth). Set on the Isle of Man, Richard Thorncroft is a struggling actor whose titular role has crippled his career ever since its cancellation. However, after a murder is committed on the small island and links to the T.V. show are made, Thorncroft is called in by police to help solve the case. An excellent P.R. spot that could help revive his career, if he wasn’t so solipsistic. Julian Barratt is excellent in the role, carrying the film through its unfortunately muddled second act. Still, Kenneth Branagh is a self-deprecating delight and Steve Coogan is his best prick. An incredibly charming and funny light comedy.
THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE (2017)
Incredibly timely, as it follows the story of a Syrian refugee crossing the border into Finland, this surreal, off-beat comedy takes some time to accommodate to its tone but is enjoyably quirky and humorous to watch. Whether or not it treats its subject well is up for debate – a lot of its comedy stems from the secondary plot of an elderly Finnish man who establishes a restaurant called The Golden Pint – it holds the distinction of paradoxically being a realistic portrayal of a refugee while simultaneously intending to be as artificial as possible. Some excellent music is to be expected for fans of blues and gritty rock n’ roll, but what really stands out is the beautifully cut-and-dry visual storytelling that looks effortless in its execution. Takes about a half an hour before a discernible joke pops up, but given the subject matter, it’s exceptional that any humour could be found at all.