This week’s movie releases

Antonio Banderas stars in Spanish sci-fi ‘Automata,’ as Meryl Streep heads ‘Into the Woods’

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Antonio Banderas in 'Automata.'
Antonio Banderas in 'Automata.'

The first of a number of movies on the subject of robotic intelligence heading our way in 2015 – see also the likes of Ex Machina and ChappieAutomata is a Spanish-made, English-language sci-fi thriller produced by and starring Antonio Banderas. The year is 2044 and desertification has ravaged the Earth, where humankind is struggling to get by and relying on the support of mass-produced robots for protection.

Banderas plays an insurance agent called in to investigate a robot that appears to be modifying itself – something that goes against its protocols – only to uncover a much wider plot. Directed by Spain’s Gabe Ibáñez, who previously made Elena Anaya-starring psychological thriller Hierro, and drawing on the likes of Blade Runner and the works of Isaac Asimov, the film also features Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster, Tim McInnerny, and Banderas’s ex, Melanie Griffith.

Into the Woods is Disney’s long-gestating big-screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s 1986 stage musical mélange of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Cinderella and other Grimm fairy tales. Directed by Chicago’s Rob Marshall, the cast includes Meryl Streep, not to mention Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf.

Mean streets

Yann Demange’s acclaimed ’71 features rapidly rising star Jack O’Connell as a British soldier accidently isolated by his unit on the mean streets of 1970s Belfast after a riot. Beaten, chased by the IRA and with no idea who to trust, he has to survive the night alone in this heart-pumping thriller.

Set in snowy Manitoba, Aloft marks the English-language debut of Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa (Madeinusa, La teta asustada), niece of Nobel laureate writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Unfolding in two different time periods, it stars Jennifer Connelly bringing up two boys on a remote farm, and Cillian Murphy as one of her adult sons journeying to visit his estranged mom, now a renowned healer, many years later. Melanie Laurent plays the journalist who accompanies him.

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