SHADOW
YING
2018, Well Go USA, 116 min, China/Hing Kong, Dir: Zhang Yimou

Swapping his usual vibrant color palette for an aesthetic largely inspired by the Chinese ink-wash painting tradition of shuimohua, Zhang Yimou (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, RAISE THE RED LANTERN) presents another slice of war and intrigue set in the historically rich period of the Three Kingdoms (AD 220-280). The King of Pei (Zheng Kai) aims to conquer or destroy everything in his path, and while he is served by his loyal military commander (Deng Chao), his court teems with machinations. To deceive enemies both within and outside the kingdom, the commander has cultivated a look-alike “shadow” (also played by Deng) who can easily trick just about anyone. The stage is set for a battle to control the walled city of Jing - an explosive and treacherous confrontation that few will survive. An enthralling ancient painting come to life, this magnificent epic combines stunning visuals with an intricate plot that will both delight and surprise fans of the genre.


LORDS OF CHAOS
2018, 112 min, UK/Sweden, Dir: Jonas Åkerlund

Set in 1987, this is the story of the birth of Mayhem, the notorious Norwegian black metal band that wore corpse paint, aimed to create the most extreme metal music ever heard, burned down churches and were involved in brutal murders. Rory Culkin stars as Euronymous, guitarist and leader of a little-heard extreme metal band struggling to break out to a wider audience. Although he talks about creating suffering, chaos and death, it’s mostly just talk - until he meets Varg (Emory Cohen) and alpha-male one-upmanship kicks in. As the original drummer for black metal band Bathory, director Åkerlund knows his subject matter well, and LORDS OF CHAOS is shot through with pitch-black humor and unflinching violence without ever placing these princes of darkness on a pedestal.


CLIMAX
2018, A24, 95 min, France, Dir: Gaspar Noé

The setting is France in 1996; Daft Punk has just redefined music and the dance community has responded with a visceral new language as violent as it is beautiful. As a group of dancers unwinds at a remote lodge, an acid-spiked punch turns hedonism into horror, and the gathering quickly descends into Lord of the Flies territory. Sofia Boutella (THE KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE) stars as Selva, the troupe's manager, with some of France’s hottest dancers (including Claude Gajan Maull, Vince Galliot Cumant and Thea Carla Schott) surrounding her. Filled with bravura sequences, the relentlessly immersive onslaught that is CLIMAX reaffirms Gaspar Noé’s status as one of contemporary film’s greatest provocateurs.


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