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'Border' courtesy of MUBI

Top Film Releases in March: Turn and Face the Strange

1 March 2019 | Daniel Pateman

We usher in the new this month as snowdrops spring up, days get lighter, and wearing sunglasses is no longer considered sociopathic. March abounds with films by directors in the high noon of their cinematic careers, delivering visions of originality and vitality. And although the Brexit storm clouds may be brewing in the news, the cinematic menu pops out like a nice big umbrella - thanks cinema!

Nordic noir and fantasy combine this month in Border, the second film from Iranian-Swedish director Ali Abbasi. Released in cinemas on 8th March, this singular tale focuses on the life of Tina, a shy, isolated woman with a strange appearance and a stranger ability to smell other people’s guilt – which is a real boon in her job as a customs officer. One day she crosses paths with Vore, a man who appears to be just like her. While their mutual understanding leads to companionship, it also results in the revelation of much darker secrets. Described as “unlike anything you’ve seen” by Screen Anarchy, Border promises to deliver something melancholic, magical and utterly surprising.

Taking a more realist turn but still with plenty of “oh no she didn’t!?” comes The Kindergarten Teacher (8th March). A US remake of the 2014 Israeli film of the same name, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Lisa, an unhappy teacher who becomes obsessed with nurturing the latent talent of her five-year-old pupil Jimmy. Director Sara Colangelo (Little Accidents) crafts a psychologically nuanced tale that crescendos into edge-of-your-seat thriller territory, while Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a riveting, career best performance. Mexican heartthrob Gael García Bernal also stars.

If you thought things couldn’t get more bottom-clenchingly tense, well, you were wrong. Fright fans rejoice as Jordan Peele, director of 2017’s critically and commercially acclaimed Get Out, delivers his second feature, Us (22nd March); although this time he replaces the former’s funny-bone with unrelenting terror. Returning to her childhood beach home on vacation, Adelaide (Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o) can’t shake the feeling that her family’s in danger. Then one night, their peace is disrupted by the arrival of a group of creepy doppelgängers. “They’re us,” her petrified son states. If the trailer is any indication, Us is a no-holds-barred psychodrama, full of uncanny doubles, surreal imagery and inescapable dread.

Finally, and providing a necessary dose of levity, production company A24 – responsible for some of the most distinctive films of the last decade – bring us neo-noir mystery Under the Silver Lake. Released on the 22nd March and directed by David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), Andrew Garfield stars as the boyish, permanently bewildered Sam, obsessed with conspiracy theories and secret signs. After meeting and falling for his mysterious neighbour Sarah (Riley Keough), he’s surprised to discover the next day that she’s vanished. Thus begins a quest to find her that draws him into a much-bigger conspiracy in the process. Displaying a madcap energy, eclectic soundtrack and endearingly goofy performance by Garfield, Under the Silver Lake offers a psychedelic, entertaining head-trip through Los Angeles.

 
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