If Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis was a portrait of the artist without the pain, Andrew Dominik’s Blonde is a portrait of the artist as pure pain, a sum of trauma, grief, displacement and anguish almost without regard to talent. As such, it’s not a bio, but very much an adaptation of the novel that was its source material, and it certainly won’t be for everyone. Ana de Armas is pretty astonishing in the role of Norma Jeane and Marilyn Monroe, whom, the film posits, Jeane saw as an almost alien entity.
THE STRANGER (Cinemas from 06 October)
This is the kind of film Australia has done best since, pretty much, 2000: extremely dark tales of men with beards communicating in mumbling tones of great foreboding, sprinkled liberally with the f word. This is a good one and will truly reward you if you go in cold, as I did; you won’t be ahead of it, that’s for sure. There is no humour here: this is serious stuff, bleak, flinty, and rather great.
ON THE COUNT OF THREE
The central conceit of this challenging urban buddy flick – a pair of depressed friends make a suicide pact – could be reckless were the film’s seriousness of purpose not so pronounced. The debut feature from successful US stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael, this is a very dark comedy with a lot on its mind.
Stephen Karam’s adaptation of his own play about a family gathering for Thanksgiving at a small apartment in New York City has grown on me. I found it rather involving but unsatisfying at first watch, but I partly blame myself: I kept waiting for the shoe to drop, and didn’t, perhaps, appreciate the waiting itself. It’s a low-key slow-build character piece, modest and contained but thoughtfully and at times inventively cinematic.
An at times thrilling, at times exasperatingly over-produced experiment in cultural montage. Despite so much Bowie, you long for more Bowie, longer song snippets, more sustained footage and less stuff: less silent film footage, archival footage, added footage. At times it’s so overburdened with all that detritus that it’s frustrating, but, of course, Bowie shines through. Just.
THE QUIET GIRL
This Irish-language tale of the summer a young girl spends with her mother’s cousin and her husband touches some moments of greatness and some of banality, but overall is moving and heartfelt.
YOU WON’T BE ALONE
A unique take on witches and folklore. Writer/director Goran Stolevski is an Australian director, born in Macedonia, who made the film entirely in Serbia with a mainly Serbian cast except for Swedish actress Noomi Rapace.