The dependably distinctive and rewarding Jim Jarmusch returns with a lovely, characteristically episodic fable about the fragile, fruitful and just occasionally fraught relationship between creativity and everyday life. Chronicling a week in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus-driver and amateur poet whose home happens to be Paterson, New Jersey – home to William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg and Lou Costello, among others – the film depicts, day by inevitably slightly different day, his banal but unexpectedly engrossing routine: waking up with his designer/baker/would-be singer partner Laura (note the nod to Petrarch); walking English bulldog Marvin; taking a beer at a bar proud of its local history; and, for his work, ferrying and listening to a motley, oddly twin-heavy bunch of passengers around the New Jersey city. And at any time, but usually while walking or driving, if things go smoothly he’s thinking up verse rooted in his everyday experience.
'Sicario' director Denis Villeneuve's colour-drained, mournful sci-fi drama 'Arrival' plays like a more mainstream filmmaker got his hands on Jonathan Glazer's experimental alien masterpiece 'Under the Skin' and added moments of international intrigue, hints of romance, memories of past grief and shots of soldiers stomping about just in case the heady avant-garde stuff all got too much. There are plenty of smart ideas and bravura visuals in this maudlin, ponderous and slightly ridiculous tale of aliens coming to Earth, adapted from a Ted Chiang short story. But to enjoy the film's arresting musings on language, time and how much we can ever understand others, you'll have to close your eyes and ears to the wealth of schlocky hokum surrounding them.
Has JK Rowling been taking divination lessons at Hogwarts? With spooky clairvoyance, the first movie in her new five-film wizarding franchise opens with two factions in America at each other’s throats. No, not Republicans and Democrats. It’s 1926, and wizards and muggles (only in America they call them ‘no majs’) are on the brink of civil war. Oh, and in the non-magical world, a bully-boy heir to a fortune is wooing voters. Top of the class, JK! ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is basically a Harry Potter prequel (though you’ll get a detention for saying that). JK Rowling, writing her first film script, and longtime Harry Potter director David Yates have created an entirely new corner of the wizarding world. They strike a savvy balance between shiny new elements and recognisable ones for Potterheads.
At the end of 'Elle', the first credit to appear onscreen reminds us that we've just watched a Paul Verhoeven film. Well, no shit. 'Elle' might just be the most Paul Verhoeven film yet, due to its willingness to push buttons, explore transgressive territory and take constant delight in venturing where the vast majority of filmmakers would fear to tread. This is, after all, the man who gave us 'Basic Instinct' and 'Showgirls'. Adapted by David Birke from the novel by Philippe Djian, the film has an ace up its sleeve in the form of Isabelle Huppert, giving an Oscar-worthy (and impeccably dressed) performance as Michele, a video game company founder living in Paris who is raped and stalked by a ski-masked assailant.
We'd do anything for our kids, wouldn't we? Romanian director Cristian Mungiu ('4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days') understands that, he gets it. But with this bruising, powerful drama he also asks the question: what if the broken social, political and judicial culture around you literally allowed you to do anything for them, without any regard for right or wrong? The anti-hero of this intense, talky, busy and completely compelling morality play is Romeo Aldea (Adrian Titieni), and he's far from an obvious villain, if indeed he's a villain at all. Romeo is a well-regarded local doctor in a Transylvanian town who is determined that his daughter Eliza (Maria Dragus) does well in her exams so that she can study in the 'more civilised' UK.