New movies this week

Hits & misses at inner west cinemas

Opening this week 27.04

Things To Come

In this lovely and thoughtful new film from Mia Hansen-Løve (Goodbye First Love, The Father of My Children), Isabelle Huppert (Elle) plays Nathalie, a well-off Parisian philosophy academic who seems to have an idyllic life. But by mid way through though she’s been sacked by her publisher because her work isn’t hip enough, her mum has died leaving her with a fat black cat she doesn’t much like, her husband of twenty five years has left her for someone younger and what’s worse, he’s taken her favourite books! There’s a tear or two, but no more, Nathalie just gets on with it. In fact that’s just about the only criticism anyone has mounted – there’s not enough conflict, it all seems too breezy. But there’s nuance in Nathalie’s reactions to what’s happening to her, and this is where Huppert shows what an astonishingly good an actress she is. And some drama – just a hint of frisson in her relationship with a much younger and handsome former student Fabien (Roman Kolinka), now an anarchist writer living in the mountains – although that seems to be resolved by him getting the cat. As the title suggest, this is all about life’s changes and possibilities. Critic just adore this film ­(100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and discerning audiences will find it an absolute delight. Although it could just as easily have been called “Middle-aged woman copes pretty well” M from April 27. ★★★★

The Innocents

Fresh from high praise at Sundance, French director Anne Fontaine’s (Coco Avant Chanel, Gemma Bovery) new profoundly moving and morally complex drama is set in the wintery Polish countryside in December 1945, just after the Second World War has finally come to its brutal conclusion. Most survivors of the conflict have experienced or witnessed ghastly horrors. One evening Mathilde (Lou de Laâge), a young French Red Cross doctor treating the last of the French soldiers returning from the front stumbles across a convent of nuns, most of whom are all, quite mysteriously, pregnant. That thematic mix of war, male brutality, sexual violence and declining religious faith, all played out in a stark and chilly landscape do make for a dark film, but its far from depressing, and unfolds like a thriller. There are some shocking revelations before miraculously, it manages to end on a note of grace. It’s quite a little wonder really, and lovely to see rising star de Laâge, so stunning as the bad girl of Breathe but then underutilised in The Wait, finally getting a centre-stage role where all her talents are radiantly on display. M from April 27 at Chauvel Cinema, Paddington ★★★★

We have 10 double in-season passes to The Innocents give away. See our giveaway page for details

Free Fire

Sometime in the late 70s, Justine (Brie Larson) has just brokered a meeting in an abandoned Boston warehouse between two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) and a gang led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and Ord (Armie Hammer) who are selling them a stash of guns. Lower-rung goons along to stand around menacingly include Sam Riley, Noah Taylor and Jack Reynor, and one of them has apparently recently pissed off another in an unrelated incident. So after a few choice insults, guns are drawn and blazing. And they don’t stop – the whole movie becomes a crazed nonstop battle with everyone shooting at each other, and even a third party sniper joins in. Eventually one of the hoods yells, “I forgot whose side I’m on!” It hardly matters, or who survives, none of these likeable lunatics have been established as anything other than canon fodder. Writer/director Ben Wheatley has made some bat-shit crazy movies before (Kill List, High Rise, Sightseers), though they haven’t broken out of the cult and art-house circuit. And despite the talents of some A-list stars sporting fabulously retro facial hair and lots of salty sub-Tarantino banter, Free Fire may not either. Though it is still mordantly funny with a truck-load of grungy, goof-ball style. MA15+ from April 27. ★★★

Rules Don’t Apply

That title has several meanings here, its most useful indicating that writer/director/producer/star Warren Beatty totally threw away the rulebook and didn’t listen to anyone else when he was making it. That’s not always a bad thing, sometimes highly personal movies that are way out of line are the most interesting. It’s certainly a lavish, expensive production, and Beatty’s portrayal of eccentric billionaire and studio mogul Howard Hughes is nothing if not fascinating. It looks gorgeous too – with glamorous frocks, 60s limousines, a broody new James Dean-look-alike (Alden Ehrenreich), fabulous co-stars (Mathew Broderick, Alex Baldwin, Annette Bening), and lots of others adding cameos. But what sort of movie is it – a romance, biopic, a tale of old Hollywood, moral fable about the corrupting power of ambition, fame and money? It tries to be all of those, never quite deciding… It’s a confused mishmash – always interesting, quite fun in parts, but not what we might have expected from the 80-year old Hollywood pro. Mind you, ignoring rules does mean that Mr Beatty as Hughes gets to have a rather icky sex scene with his lovely leading lady (Lilly Collins). Maybe that’s it. M from April 27. ★★ 1/2

Reviews: Russell Edwards