Visual artist turned filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason has focused his directorial lens on a remote Icelandic town for his second feature A White, White Day. The drama centres around off-duty police chief Ingimundur (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) who is struggling to cope with the loss of his wife to a horrific road accident. As a coping mechanism, he takes fishing trips with his granddaughter Salka (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir), and spends his days renovating a house for his daughter’s family. By chance, he makes a discovery which leads him to believe that his wife had been having an affair, and before long, his suppressed grief and a simmering anger rise to the surface.
Judd Apatow’s movies have been the gateway drug to cinema for the likes of Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Amy Schumer, and his latest effort The King of Staten Island introduces another new face. Plucked from the Saturday Night Live breeding ground of talent, Pete Davidson stars as Scott Carlin, a twentysomething layabout that spends his days tattooing himself or anyone that’ll let him near enough with a needle. When his younger sister flees the family nest for college and his mum Margie (Marisa Tomei) gets a new boyfriend, he is forced to finally grow up, and part of this process is the coming to terms with the loss of his firefighter father.
Venezuelan writer and director Jonathan Jakubowicz presents an untold WWII story through the lens of a biopic with Resistance. The plot centres around aspiring mime artist Marcel (Jesse Eisenberg) who joins his brother Alain (Félix Moati) and friend Emma (Clémence Poésy) in the French Resistance. With sadistic Gestapo agent Klaus Barbie (Matthias Schweighöfer) hunting them down, they attempt to escort a group of orphans from Nazi-occupied France across the border to safety.
British filmmaker Thomas Clay made an impression on the scene back in the noughties with two controversial films that had began to establish him as a rising star to pay attention to. After strangely going off the radar ever since, he’s returned to the director’s chair with period drama Fanny Lye Deliver’d. Set on an isolated Shropshire farm shortly after the English Civil War, the plot centres around the bleak lives of Fanny (Maxine Peake), her abusive husband John (Charles Dance) and their son Arthur. When young couple Thomas (Freddie Fox) and Rebecca (Tanya Reynolds) arrive unannounced to seek shelter in their barn one night, the Lye’s strict puritan lifestyle is challenge by radical new ideas.
Documentary filmmaker Kitty Green transitions from fact to fiction for her fourth feature The Assistant. Inspired by the Me Too movement, the drama tells a day in the life tale of Jane (Julia Garner), a fresh-faced assistant to an influential figure in the film industry. Feeling isolated and under pressure in a male-dominated environment, she naively turns to Wilcock (Matthew Macfadyen) in the HR department when she suspects untoward behaviour from the powers that be.
With a largely non-professional cast and an improvised script, high school drama Rocks is a daring, some might say risky, third feature from director Sarah Gavron. The London-based plot centres around Shola (Bukky Bakray), a fun-loving teenager whose nickname gives the film its title. On what first appears to be like any other school morning, she wakes up to discover that her mother has absconded, leaving behind only a letter of apology and some cash in an envelope. Fending for herself and her little brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu), she is forced to grow up fast and puts on a brave face whilst trying to make ends meet and avoid unwanted attention from the local authorities.
Glanbeigh is a fictional small-town on the west coast of Ireland which serves as the bleak yet breath-taking backdrop for a series of short stories called Young Skins by author Colin Barrett. Crime novella Calm With Horses is the bruising centrepiece of the collection and has been adapted for the screen by newcomer director Nick Rowland and screenwriter Joseph Murtagh. The plot centres around ex-boxer turned muscle Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis) who does the dirty work of Dympna (Barry Keoghan) for the drug-pedalling Devers family. When he discovers that his ex-girlfriend Ursula (Niamh Algar) is moving to Cork with their young son Jack, he is forced to confront his conflicting loyalties head on.
It’s been a decade since Welsh actor Craig Roberts’ breakthrough performance in Richard Ayoade’s critically acclaimed indie film Submarine. Sally Hawkins played the part of his mother back then, and now she takes up the leading role in comedy drama Eternal Beauty, his second feature as writer and director. The plot centres around Jane (Hawkins) who suffered a psychological breakdown years earlier after being jilted at the altar. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, we see how she interacts with her sisters Nicola (Billie Piper) and Alice (Alice Lowe), her mother Vivian (Penelope Witton) and her madcap love interest Mike (David Thewlis) who has mental health issues of his own.
Much beloved actor Billy Crystal is best known for his delightful performances in classic romantic comedies, but he started out his career as a stand-up comedian. He makes a return to this area in Matt Ratner’s directorial debut Standing Up, Falling Down. The plot centres around down-on-his-luck jokesmith Scott (Ben Schwartz) who, after an unsuccessful stint attempting to ‘make it’ in on the LA circuit, moves back in with his parents in his hometown. At a local bar, he bumps into his dermatologist Marty (Crystal) who appears to have a drinking problem, and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship.
Indie director Gerard Johnson’s latest movie is Muscle, a psychological thriller starring Cavan Clerkin and Craig Fairbrass. The plot follows out-of-shape salesman Simon who meets an intimidating personal trainer at his local gym. After its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, I caught up with Gerard to discuss the film…
How did the London premiere go?
It was great! It was my first time having a film at London. I’m from London so it was nice that I finally got to play a film there. My previous two Tony and Hyena both premiered in Edinburgh, so it was lovely to premiere in London with Muscle. The three screenings went well and generated great word of mouth buzz, so it was everything I wanted from the festival really.
Where did the inspiration come from for Simon’s story?
Well I’ve been going to gyms all my life really, from the spit-and-sawdust ones to the more modern lifestyle ones. I’ve had this idea for a while of a personal trainer taking over someone’s life, and it remained a two-page treatment idea for years. Recently, in seeing how gym culture has exploded, it made me think that we’ve never really had a film about gym culture. Obviously, there was Pumping Iron, which is an amazing gym-based documentary but that’s more about Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Nowadays, everyone is more health conscious and knows about nutrition, carbs, good fats etc. so it feels like a good time to shine a light on that world in the cinema.