We’ve had America continuing to steal political headlines, mostly for chaotic reasons, and Britain formally commencing the long march out of the EU this week. Which is all quite a lot to take in, so we can at least turn to remakes mired in controversy, Cannes award winners, lots of shooting, and bus drivers for comfort.
Ghost in the Shell exists in numerous forms since starting out as a Japanese cyberpunk manga series in the early ‘90s. A 1995 animated film received widespread acclaim, and the story, based around a cyborg officers taking on cyberterrorists in the near future, has continued to beguile. Then Hollywood walks in and remakes it with a bunch of white people, drawing unsurprising criticism. The casting of Scarlett Johansson in the lead role has proven controversial to say the least. Now the film’s actually out, it’s been relatively well-received, including Johansson’s performance, though there’s widespread belief it doesn’t stand up to the 1995 original.
Romanian director Cristian Mungiu doesn’t always make the easiest to watch films. An often painfully acute social-realist, he’s best known for his 2007 Palme d’Or winning backstreet abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Graduation might not have picked up the top prize at Cannes last year, but it did land him Best Director. Set in a small town in Transylvania, the story follows a local doctor forced to jeapordise his principles when an attack on his daughter threatens her future. It’s likely to be tough, and very good.
It can be hard to tell what some films are about, but if you don’t like the surprise, Ben Wheatley has kindly given the game up in a two word title. Free Fire involves a short, sharp, shock to the system as an arms deal in 1970’s Boston goes south very quickly, resulting in a hell of a lot of shooting. The likes of Brie Larson, Armie Hammer and Cillian Murphy are all involved, destroying a warehouse. When you’ve had enough of subtlety and simply want to watch things get obliterated, this is the choice for you.
With Jim Jarmusch, there’s a certain laconic cool across all his films even if they vary significantly in other ways. Paterson, out now on DVD, casts Adam Driver as the title character; a bus driver and aspiring poet. Low-key and wonderfully observed, it’s a study in the small moments of daily life that rewards return visits. Jarmusch is usually worth watching, and this is certainly towards the stronger side of his formidable output.
That’s the end of another week. Next time there’ll be talking babies. You can decide if that’s something worth getting excited about.