Director Matt Reeves’ gothic noir take on the beloved billionaire Bruce Wayne skews emo, with teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson embracing his role as the moody vigilante – bereft of the glitz and charity galas that Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s iteration became known for. In The Batman, we meet Bruce Wayne two years into his journey as the masked vigilante as he comes up against infamous Gotham City villain The Riddler (Paul Dano), a code-loving serial killing menace with his own axe to grind. As Batman follows Riddler’s clues he becomes entwined in Gotham’s underworld, facing off with notorious characters like The Penguin (Colin Farrell) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) as well as befriending Selina Kyle aka Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz). Although the runtime is just shy of three hours, don’t be put off –  you won’t feel a thing with the excellent pacing, engrossing plot and show-stopping fight scenes (the nightclub strobe lights definitely reminded us of Blade).

‘Ali & Ava’ image courtesy of Altitude Film Distribution.

If tights and capes aren’t your deal then renowned British director Clio Barnard (The Arbor, Dark River) returns with intimate and complex romantic drama Ali & Ava starring Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar. In keeping with Barnard’s refined approach to social realism, we meet Ali and Ava through their shared affection for Sofia – a shy child in Ava’s class and tenant in one of Ali’s properties. Ali’s exuberant personality coaxes Ava out of her comfortable role of ‘young grandmother’ and their complicated histories unfurl before them as they tentatively fall in love. Watch the Ali & Ava trailer here.

‘The Sanctity Of Space’ image courtesy of Dogwoof.

The Sanctity of Space climbs onto our screens on Fri 11 Mar, another astonishing documentary from Dogwoof that follows Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson as they try to scale Mount Denali in Alaska. Inspired by the work of renowned aerial mountain photographer Brad Washburn, the climbing buddies set out on an expedition – but like all great adventures, they experience injuries, fractured friendships but above all a new way to live. This is a documentary for those who loved last year’s The Alpinist or the 2019 Oscar Winning documentary Free Solo.

Rounding out the month, on Fri 25 Mar we have two titans of independent cinema, with renowned directors Sean Baker (The Florida Project, Tangerine) and Joachim Trier (Thelma, Oslo, August 31st) returning with two compelling features – Red Rocket and the Oscar-nominated The Worst Person in the World

‘Red Rocket’ image courtesy of Universal Pictures Int (UK).

Sean Baker has a history of exploring sex work in his films, and Red Rocket is no different – in fact its his most overt interrogation of the topic through character Mikey Saber (played with hilarity and verve by Scary Movie’s own Simon Rex), a down-and-out pornstar who returns to a small town Texas and worms his way back in with his estranged wife Lexi (Bree Elrod) and her sick mother Lil (Brenda Deiss, who sadly passed away recently). Red Rocket is fascinating in the way Baker is able to balance having such an unlikeable character confront a world that likes him even less, by exploring how the stigma of sex work makes it harder for workers to integrate in to what are known as ‘civilian’ jobs. At the same time, the audience grows increasingly aware of how Mikey’s sociopathic tendencies make it so easy for him to thrive against the odds. A knotty watch that will have you laughing and wincing in equal measure, and well worth your time. 

‘The Worst Person in the World’ image courtesy of MUBI.

Trier’s twice Academy Award nominated (Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature) film rounds out his spiritual Oslo Trilogy, which explores the interior lives of contemporary young Norwegians. The Worst Person in the World chronicles four years in the life of Julie (played by Renate Reinsve, winner of Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival), a young woman at the tail end of her 20s and unsure what she wants to do with her life. Described by the director as a ‘twisted rom-com’, we witness Julie come-of-age (or perhaps experience a quarter-life-crisis, depending on your perspective) as love literally and figuratively bends time to allow her to figure out what she wants. For any fans of Frances Ha, Mistress America or more recently Licorice Pizza, this future classic is absolutely the one for you. 

Words by Rōgan Graham.

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