Two rather fantastic releases warrant your attention this week – Paolo Sorrentino’s spectacularly brilliant This Must Be The Place and cracking Scandi thriller Headhunters, both of which are nothing short of essential. There’s also the dismal Elfie Hopkins in which Jamie Winstone further tarnishes her career and Gone, a film in which Amanda Seyfried looks confused and shouts a lot for ninety minutes. Both are rubbish.
Headhunters, on the other hand, is superb. A cracking mix of typical Scandi silliness and brooding thrills, author Jo Nesbø’s first book to receive the cinematic treatment is the tale of a successful headhunter who moonlights as an art thief. Initially, it all starts out as a relatively straight thriller, but that slick veneer soon gives way to an enjoyably knockabout affair, seamlessly mixing elements of nasty violence and comic thrills. An American remake is lamentably already in production, but Morten Tyldum’s adaptation is an enjoyably daft thriller that’s well worth picking up.
Now, considering that This Must Be The Place may very well be the best film I’ve seen all year, I could have quite happily dedicated this entire column to gushing about why it’s quite as wonderful as it is, but you’ll have to make do with a few paragraphs. An unexpected departure in to comedy (of sorts) for Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, what ostensibly starts out as a light hearted tale of disillusioned American rock star living out retirement in Northern Ireland unexpectedly gives way to a surprisingly poignant if spectacularly odd road movie featuring, among other things, Nazis and lots of gothic makeup. Oh, and David Byrne.
Sean Penn gives a mesmerising performance as Cheyenne, the disillusioned musical legend whose life of perpetual boredom is curbed when news reaches him of his father’s imminent passing. It’s upon returning to America, however that a series of family discoveries leads to a rather unexpected road trip in search of his Jewish father’s Nazi persecutor, and what ensues is a downright odd, yet utterly captivating reflection on the drawbacks of stardom, made all the more compelling by Penn’s subtly comic performance. In short, it’s essential viewing.
If that doesn’t float your boat – in which case I have absolutely no interest in knowing you whatsoever - there’s always Bad Ass, a film based on a YouTube video of a man kicking the shit out of another man on a bus, in which Danny Trejo plays a sort of aged Rambo figure who, as you’d no doubt expect, beats the hell out of a lot of criminals. If that sounds like your bag, presumably you’ll love it. If I were you, I’d opt for Sean Penn in Robert Smith garb. It’s much more charming.