Maps to the Stars (18) David Cronenberg DVD/Blu-ray (111mins)
David Cronenberg’s customary tropes – sex in cars, incestuous urges, burning flesh – are all in evidence for his astringent satire on Hollywood. Julianne Moore (above) plays monstrous egotist Havana Segrand, who is desperate to star in a drama about her famous late mother. Another actor lands the part but sinister forces ensure Havana eventually bags it. Are these macabre goings on linked to her employment of Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a disturbed 18-year-old fresh out of a private sanatorium where she was being treated for criminal pyromania? Everyone – from Evan Bird’s vile child star to John Cusack’s unctuous “guru” – is full of bile in Cronenberg’s best film since 2005’s A History of Violence, and Moore, who deservedly won a best actress award at Cannes, is sensationally unbalanced.
Gone Girl (18) David Fincher DVD/Blu-ray (149mins)
David Fincher’s suitably nasty adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller is probably best interpreted as a satire on marriage and news coverage in America. Nick, a failed writer, and the well-heeled Amy meet in New York and marry quickly before being forced to move to Missouri. Their relationship is toxic, Amy goes missing (presumed dead) and Nick is looking at a trial by media followed by the electric chair. Rosamund Pike is thoroughly convincing as the deeply unsympathetic Amy, but Affleck convinces less as cheating Nick. A young Richard Gere or Matthew McConaughey would have been more suitable, more ambiguous.
I’m All Right Jack (U) John Boulting DVD/Blu-ray (100mins)
“You better go Mr Windrush, you’re not the detergent type,” maintains an unimpressed employer (one of many) to Ian Carmichael’s upper-class buffoon (he specialised in them) in John Boulting’s withering satire on labour relations. Windrush eventually lands a job at his uncle’s missile factory, where he soon stirs industrial disharmony. A raft of British talent, including Irene Handl, Terry-Thomas (“an absolute shower”) and Dennis Price, sink their teeth into this near-the-knuckle comedy. However, this 1959 gem belongs to Peter Sellers, as passionate shop steward Fred Kite.
Life after Beth (15) Jeff Baena DVD/Blu-ray (91mins)
Dane DeHaan’s Zach is, understandably, not coping with the death of his girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza, from Parks and Recreation), from a snake bite. But then, miraculously, she’s resurrected as an initially cheerful (it doesn’t last) zombie. It makes for an ideal opportunity for the wounded Zach to say and do all the things he wanted to say and do to her when she was alive. Jeff Baena’s slight comedy horror is blessed with Plaza’s desert-dry wit and a typically solid performance from John C Reilly as Beth’s pot-smoking father, plus a reliably charming cameo from Anna Kendrick.