Cut & Wrapped

This week's best in films including our favourite Christmas films and documentaries on the American South

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OLD FILM OF THE WEEK: Daisies

DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK: West of Memphis 

Flawed criminal justice in the US comes under the microscope in this acclaimed, visually lush doc from director Amy Berg. It sets out startling revelations in the infamous case of the West Memphis Three – teens arrested for the murders of several eight-year-olds in the American South. Convicted, the trio remained in prison for more than 18 years, though this film squarely points the finger elsewhere. Out on 21 December.
 
TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Tower

Relying on images more than plot, this atmospheric indie feature debut from Canadian writer-director Kazik Radwanski follows with intimate, documentary-like authenticity a struggling 30-something animator who awakes with a red wound between the eyes that adds to his charmless, outcast mien. Shown at this year’s Vienalle, Toronto and Locarno festivals, this disturbing enigma has been widely lauded as one of the best as-yet undistributed films of the year. It’s out in its local Canada on February 22.
 
OLD FILM OF THE WEEK: Daisies

If the Mayans got it right, you can watch the world end in style on the 21st with Vera Chytilova's vibrantly surreal, anarchic Daisies, a Czech New Wave classic. Deciding the world’s gone to rot, friends Marie I and Marie II decide to be bad too. Amid sequences of war and nuclear explosion, they indulge in a playful riot of excess and destruction, laying waste to a banquet that’s been set out for communist leaders before a violently spectacular end. Banned by the authorities for "depicting the wanton", it saw its director prohibited from working again for nearly a decade. Available through Second Run.
 
NEW FILM OF THE WEEK: Safety Not Guaranteed

Interning for a Seattle magazine, morosely pessimistic Darius (Aubrey Plaza) tracks down a stranger advertising for a time-travel partner (“Must bring your own weapons”) to join him in his DIY-made machine in Colin Trevorrow’s directing debut, which was inspired by a real-life classifieds wanted ad. With Mumblecore stalwart Mark Duplass on board as co-producer and star it bears the small-budget, low-fi shadings of earlier Duplass films such as The Puffy Chair. Out on 26 December.
 
CHRISTMAS FILM: Boxing Day

“Festive fare” and “gritty Brit indie” aren’t likely bedfellows, but this low-key, hand-held flick from director Bernand Rose is a prime antidote to schmaltz overdose. The third in a trilogy of Tolstoy novella adaptations (after Ivansxtc and The Kreutzer Sonata), it’s a take on Master and Man set in modern-day Los Angeles, and sees an indebted businessman leave his family at Christmas only to end up in a perilous fix in the isolated Denver mountains. Out on 21 December.

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