Carmen Gray on film highlights of this week from Lee Daniel's The Paperboy, a new Michael Haneke doc and the Human Rights Film Festival
NEW FILM OF THE WEEK: The Paperboy
Sweaty and tawdry, this hot mess from director Lee Daniels is the funnest role Nicole Kidman's had in a while. She leaves behind her usual ice-queen shtick - even pissing on Zac Efron in one much-mentioned scene - to play Charlotte Bless, a lusty death-row groupie in the '60s who's become obsessed with a convict in the American South (John Cusack). She enlists two reporters (Matthew McConaughey and David Oyelowo) to exonerate him in the hope they can get married. Out in the UK on Friday 15 March.
DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK: Michael H. Profession: Director
Those of us missing the lols of the recently defunct fake Michael Haneke Twitter account can get another - more straight-faced - dose of the black polo-necked director in this documentary from fellow Austrian filmmaker Yves Montmayeur. It makes a convincing case for the towering importance of Haneke's career to date, mixing interviews with the don of seriousness himself, observations from stars such as Isabelle Huppert and scenes from his films, including Hidden, The White Ribbon, and Oscar-winner Amour. Out in the UK on Friday 15 March.
TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The East
Director Zal Batmanglij and lead actress Brit Marling (who also worked together on The Sound of My Voice) spent two months practicing freeganism - reclaiming and eating food that's been discarded - and hanging out with anarchists in prep for their latest film. Marling plays an agent for a private intelligence film that ruthlessly guards corporate interests who goes undercover to infiltrate a corporation-targeting collective. Things get messy when she starts falling for their charismatic leader. Screening at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on Saturday 14 March.
FESTIVAL OF THE WEEK: Human Rights Watch Film Festival
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is back for its 17th London edition with another hit of socially switched-on films. Doc highlights include Joshua Oppenheimer's raved-about The Act of Killing, in which he gets former Indonesian death-squad members to theatrically re-enact their crimes in elaborate, hyper-coloured scale, and Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief's Rafea: Solar Mama, in which an illiterate Bedouin woman goes on a training course in India to become a solar engineer. The festival runs from March 13 to 22 across various London venues.
OLD FILM OF THE WEEK: Scanners
Body-horror master David Cronenberg's visually stylish '81 sci-fi sees "scanners" - people with telekinetic and telepathic powers caused by an experimental drug in pregnancy - inhabiting the earth amid the normal population. Assaulted by an unstemmable flood of strangers' thoughts, some have become recluses. Renegade scanner Darryl Revok pits himself against ConSec, a corporation seeking out scanners to use for its own purposes. Late Night Cigarette Burns Cinema is holding a screening at London's Rio Cinema in Dalston on Saturday 16 March.