When you’re making a version of a novel by Octave Mirbeau that’s been filmed before by the likes of Jean Renoir (in 1946), and Luis Buñuel (in 1964), then you need to bring something special to the mix. Alas, from the looks of the trailer for this latest incarnation of Diary of a Chambermaid, it seems as if director and co-writer Benoît Jacquot has somehow mishandled things to the point of making Léa Seydoux’s title character more pouting and hostile than sympathetic. Combined with elements that make it look like it will descend into thriller territory, this adaptation looks as if it’s doomed from the start, but with Vincent Lindon in support it may yet redeem itself, although to do so, it’s really got to outshine a trailer that doesn’t do the movie any justice. Unless…
Morgan is the first feature from Luke Scott (son of Ridley), whose short movie Loom (2012) showed considerable promise. The tale of a corporate risk assessment consultant (played by Kate Mara) who is tasked with deciding if an artificial being that’s been created in a laboratory should be terminated, it looks stylish, creepy and tense, and the trailer holds back from revealing what the artificial being looks like – even though Morgan is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin in The Witch (2015). By adding a touch of mystery, and not revealing too much about the movie’s scenario, the trailer does better than most in making Morgan a movie that might just be better than other Frankenstein-inspired efforts released in recent years.
In Len and Company, Rhys Ifans is the washed-up rock star turned in-demand producer trying to get away from it all by imposing a voluntary exile on himself. But the peace and quiet and booze-assisted reflection he seeks is interrupted first by his son (played by Jack Kilmer, son of Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley), and then by the pop star he helped create (played by Juno Temple). With director Tim Godsall’s drama leavened by some moments of bittersweet humour, the movie has a knowing attitude toward its characters, and serves as a reminder that Ifans can be a remarkable actor when necessary. It may not make it onto many people’s Ten Best lists for 2016, but this looks as if it has the potential to surprise anyone who sees it.