Judging by Grímur Hákonarson’s eccentric dark comedy, Icelandic people have an even closer relationship with their sheep than Kiwis – even physically resembling them.
Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjonsson) and Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) are two brothers, both rough-as-guts farmers and neighbours, who for reasons never fully explained, don’t speak to each other. When they have to talk, Kiddi’s dog trots between their houses carrying notes. Tragic circumstances force them to finally work together and that leads to a dramatic climax, but the plot, which is as unusual as these two men, is scarcely the point. The real stars of Rams are those sheep, the spectacular Icelandic scenery and the brilliant, hauntingly moody score.
Just as Iceland is red hot as a tourist destination right now, so too is its distinctively idiosyncratic cinema – which often combines strong visuals, oddball stories and droll comedy. Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes last year, this is one of the country’s very best.
M from April 7.
Thanks to Palace Films we have 10 double preview passes to give away valid on the weekends of March 26-27 and April 1-3. See our Giveaways page for details.
Animals are the stars of Disney’s latest fantasy too, set in a richly imagined cinematic municipality you and I would die to live in. There’s plenty of jokes for human adults – like the Lemming Brothers Bank its residents use.
The mayor is a lion (J.K. Simmons) while his deputy is a sheep. (Any resemblance to an Inner West council – now living or soon to be amalgamated – is purely coincidental). Idris Elba confirms he’s right as a future James Bond by playing head of police Chief Bogo, a buffalo.
Meanwhile the city’s bureaucracies are run by sloths.
PG on now.
This is unlikely to screen at any mums and bubs sessions – in fact parents of newborns are advised to give this mesmerising chiller a wide berth indeed. So too are those with girls “on the cusp of blossoming”, like the lovely Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy, right) who lives with her family on the edge of the deep dark woods.
We’re in 17th century New England here, decades before the Salem witch-hunts, and fathers say things like, “Canst thou tell me what thy corrupt nature is?” to their sons. To which the answer is, “My corrupt nature is empty of grace, bent unto sin, continually,” meaning the poor lad (Harvey Scrimshaw) is a normal teen who has been ogling his sister’s budding bosoms.
Brooding, enigmatic and deeply troubling, Roger Egger’s huge Sundance hit is one of the most terrifying things you’re ever likely to see, though by the conventions of today’s bloody gorefests, it’s relatively restrained. Way more nightmarish are the hysterical children in a harsh land with the heavy hand of religion ever present. And the simple folk trying (and failing) to fend off the evils that lie in that deep dark forest of the human heart.
MA15+ on now. Exclusive to Dendy Newtown
Eye In The Sky
In warfare, when is it OK to kill civilians? What if one death could save a hundred others? Who decides? Gavin Hood’s terse and brutally efficient thriller focusing on one drone strike against a terrorist cell in Nairobi deals with some heady ethical issues all right, and does so in an incredibly tense, efficient and crisply focused way.
Helen Mirren plays a hawkish Brit colonel pushing the odds her way from the safety of a bunker thousands of miles from the slaughter, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) the US pilot with his finger on the trigger another several continents away. The poor sap… There are bad guys in a compound getting ready for a massacre, a little girl selling bread within the “collateral damage zone”, all closely observed by an incredible array of airborne surveillance cameras.
What to do, what to do… the agonising deliberations are not helped by the politicians inside and out of the operations room all carrying on like a bunch from Yes Minister or In The Loop. Just as well that lot aren’t in charge… Hang on, they are!
M from Mar 24.