NEW FILM OF THE WEEK: Something in the Air
Director Olivier Assayas drew on memories of his own youth as the basis for Something in the Air, a sprawling, nostalgia-free depiction of a group of young activists in Paris just after ’68 and its explosive revolutionary activity. Talented newcomer Clement Metayer plays Gilles, a painter whose political ideals begin to fade as he veers into filmmaking. Lola Creton (of Bluebeard and Goodbye First Love) is his one-time girlfriend, who is drawn deeper into the counterculture of the time and becomes radicalised. Out in the UK on Friday 24 May.
TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Congress
Israeli director Ari Folman's The Congress - which mixes live-action and animation for a film as artistically daring and philosophically challenging as his previous Waltz with Bashir - is among the new films getting people excited at Cannes. Based on a novel by sci-fi writer Stanislav Lem, it offers a damning vision of the Hollywood system, and stars Robin Wright - as Robin Wright. Her career in descent, she accepts an offer by the all-powerful Miramount studio to be scanned, her image surrendered via motion-capture for use in the industry's animated zone. Screening this week at France's Cannes film festival.
OLD FILM OF THE WEEK: Grave of the Fireflies
Stunningly rendered Studio Ghibli animation Grave of the Fireflies is widely regarded as one of the most searing anti-war films ever made. Written and directed by Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, the '80s Japanese classic sees 14-year-old Seita and his little sister Setsuko left alone, scrounging for survival, after the American firebombing of Kobe during World War Two kills their mother and razes their neighbourhood. Rereleased in the UK in celebration of its 25th anniversary, the film opens on Friday 24 May.
TRASH TREASURE OF THE WEEK: Samurai Cop
From an '80s saturated with direct-to-video action trash, Samurai Cop stands out as supremely inept - and entertaining. Made in LA by Iranian ex-pat Amir Shervan, it stars Sylvester Stallone's onetime bodyguard as a maverick undercover cop trained in martial arts that takes on a ruthless yakuza gang, whose members include a redheaded femme fatale. Gratuitous skin, gore, shabby editing and out-there, stilted dialogue - it all abounds in this ham-fisted wonder. A Duke Mitchell Film Club screening is at London's King's Cross Social Club on Wednesday 29 May.
EVENT OF THE WEEK: A Tribute To Les Blank
Documentary-maker Les Blank captured the roots of many American musical forms on the margins, from blues to Tex-Mex, polka and Hawaiian. A series of films celebrates the recently deceased filmmaker, including his 1964 portrait of Dizzie Gillespie and his 1982 feature-length Burden of Dreams, a record of German filmmaker Werner Herzog's legendarily batshit-crazy production of Fitzcarraldo. In depicting a man's struggle to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle, Herzog required a 320-ton steamship to be pulled over a small mountain. Le Blank offers first-hand insight into the outer limits of single-mindedness. The Close-Up programme screens at London's Bethnal Green Working Men's Club on Sunday 26 May.