Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
Adam Driver’s Sondheim moment at the end of Marriage Story (2019) suggested a man ready for a full-blown musical and we’ve got it in Annette, the head-spinning new film from Leos Carax. Carax joints don’t come along very often – it’s been nine years since Holy Motors (2012). But this rock opera penned by oddball electronic duo Sparks is every bit as way out and wonderful as fans of the maximalist French director could hope for. His first English language film, it’s an abrasively sour meditation on talent, stardom and warped parenting, with Driver as a solipsistic stand-up comic and Marion Cotillard playing his wife, a glamorous soprano. A downer musical to rank alongside Scorsese’s New York, New York (1977) or Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (1979).
The Fifth Horseman Is Fear (1965)
Where’s it on? Blu-ray
The enticingly titled The Fifth Horseman Is Fear is one of the major films of the 1960s Czech New Wave, yet not the most widely seen. That should hopefully change with its world premiere on Blu-ray this week courtesy of Second Run DVD. It’s among a number of Czech films of the time that took advantage of relaxing state censorship to tackle the plight of Jewish people during the Second World War. Zbyněk Brynych’s film is set in Prague during the German occupation and centres on a Jewish doctor who endangers his safety by administering aid to a wounded resistance fighter. Creating an oppressive mood of dread via discordant music and stark visuals, Brynych’s film is intriguingly free of period detail. As such, it doesn’t take a leap to apply its vision of a people living in constant fear of the state to Czechoslovakia in the Stalinist era.
Where’s it on? BFI Player
Kafkaesque paranoia also haunts the cityscapes of this 2013 mystery-thriller. It’s one of three Denis Villeneuve films being added to BFI Player this week, along with his high-school-shooting drama Polytechnique (2009) and his breakthrough film, Incendies (2010). Enemy is derived from José Saramago’s 2002 novel The Double and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a history professor living in Toronto who discovers the existence of an actor who looks just like him. Visions of spiders, including a giant one at large amid the skyscrapers, haunt Villeneuve’s surreal fable as one Gyllenhaal goes in search of the other through a gloomy city. That same year, Villeneuve’s film had a doppelgänger itself, with Richard Ayoade’s Dostoyevsky-derived The Double pitting Jesse Eisenberg against himself. A 90-minute enigma, Enemy still looks like one of the more intriguing films on the Villeneuve resumé.
Visit, or Memories and Confessions (2015)
Where’s it on? Mubi
“What I am and have always been is a man of the cinema,” says Manoel de Oliveira in this 68-minute remembrance of things past. It’s a memoir he shot in 1982 but which de Oliveira wanted to remain unseen until after his death – though that wouldn’t be until 2015, when he died at 106 years old. Surfacing this week for the first time in the UK on Mubi, the film is shot in the rambling home in Porto where de Oliveira lived and worked for 40 years, the camera roaming hypnotically around the house and garden as de Oliveira reflects back on episodes from his life and career. Two disembodied voices also haunt the walls, just as the past moments of happiness and sadness from his family’s residency seem to have been absorbed into the airy splendour of the place. It’s a calming, philosophical work, offering the opportunity to go through the keyhole with one of the medium’s finest directors.
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide and digital platforms including BFI Player
This Irish drama reunites two sisters to discover the buried trauma in their family’s past. The debut feature by Cathy Brady, it begins as Kelly (Nika McGuigan) returns to her hometown on the Irish border after a year of unexplained absence. She’d disappeared in the wake of her mother’s death, but now begins to rebuild her intense bond with sister Lauren (Nora-Jane Noone). But their digging around into the circumstances of their mother’s death proves unwelcome in the close-knit community of a small town with a history of sectarian violence. Brady’s brooding mystery was shot by three-time Céline Sciamma cinematographer Crystel Fournier, who furnishes the drama with plenty of scenic magnificence. The film has an additional poignancy in that McGuigan – remarkable as the troubled Kelly – died, at 33, a year before Wildfire premiered.