Having missed his step by resetting Fred Zinnemann's The Search (1948) in 1990s Chechnya, French director Michel Hazanavicius returns to the cinema for inspiration in Redoubtable. A far cry from the cheery populism of his Oscar-winning silent, The Artist (2011), this is a slapstick gabfest that has been adapted from Un An Après, actress Anne Wiazemsky's 2015 roman à clef about her marriage to the enfant terrible of the nouvelle vague, Jean-Luc Godard. Wiazemsky died in October last year, but the 87 year-old Godard is still going strong and will debut his latest film, Le Livre d'Image, at Cannes. He has dismissed Hazanavicius's playful dissection of his ego and aesthetic as `a stupid idea'. But, as the 50th anniversary of Les Evénements dawns, it proves to be a deceptively acute reconstruction of a seismic moment in French political and cultural history.

In 1967, 19 year-old Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin) played a Maoist student in La Chinoise, the latest film by Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel), who had transformed cinema a decade earlier while in the vanguard of the nouvelle vague. In their respective voiceovers, she declares her admiration for the man she loves, while he regrets that she  has chosen to tell a story he knew would end quickly. He envies Mozart for having had the sense to die at 35, as artists who live beyond this age are doomed to fail.

While dining with friends Michèle Rosier (Bérénice Bejo) and Bamban (Micha Lescot), Wiazemsky makes light of the fact that her grandfather is respected conservative author François Mauriac and hopes that he can accept her love for a radical provocateur. Despite her possessed autonomy, however, Godard treats her like a child, as he announces that he doesn't want her to waste her time acting as she would be better off returning to college to get a proper political education. Such is his contempt for actors that he looks into the lens and declares them dumb enough to deliver a line about how dumb they are.

Following a trip to the cinema to hear Gene Kelly singing `I Like Myself' from It's Always Fair Weather (1955), Wiazemsky sleeps late and wakes to find Godard in the kitchen listening to a radio report about the launch of a new submarine. He repeats the line `Such is life on board the Redoubtable' and she smiles as he proposes by making up an announcement in the personal column of his newspaper. A chic monochrome love-making scene follows before Godard explains the difference between real life and its pale imitation on a cinema screen. She hears a voice in her head commenting on how he talks too much, as Godard starts walking backwards around their apartment and teasing her about wanting to go out while he would rather work on a screenplay.

Stunned by Chinese diplomats dismissing La Chinoise as the work of `a reactionary imbecile', Godard takes little solace from Wiazemsky's contention that `such is life on board the Redoubtable'. But he whisks her off to Switzerland to get married and accepts the invitation of Jean Vilar (Philippe Girard) to show his film at a festival in Avignon. He toys with the reporters at a press conference, but is stung when Vilar nods off during the screening and several people walk out. The reviews are damning and Wiazemsky confesses to Rosier that she feels powerless to raise his spirits. Rosier reassures her new friend that Godard is never likely to ditch cinema to open a butcher's shop. But, as he walks ahead with Bamban and Michel Cournot (Grégory Gadebois), Godard ponders entrusting conventional cinema to François Truffaut while he creates a new form that will guide the country towards revolution.

A few months later, France seemed on the verge of upheaval, as protesters took to the streets of Paris in protest against the government of Charles De Gaulle. Godard and Wiazemsky join the throng and he enthuses that he feels attuned to the zeitgeist. But, when he tries to lead the chanting, his slogan is shouted down and he finds himself in a conversation with a young couple who want to know when he will make funny films again. They are unconvinced when he states that he will only make comedies when the Vietnamese and African-Americans are free to laugh and Godard feels sufficiently stung to demonstrate his commitment to the cause by throwing stones at the police. When they charge the crowd, Godard and Wiazemsky beat a retreat and he breaks his glasses after slipping on the pavement. Feeling humiliated, he takes his frustration out on Wiazemsky after she is polite to a checkpoint cop (Romain Goupil), who informs Godard that he and his wife enjoyed Le Mépris (1963).

As the riots continue on the streets, Godard and Wiazemsky join Rosier and Bamban in an Italian restaurant. When the manager accedes to a police request to pull down the shutters, Godard calls him a lackey and incurs the wrath of a diner at a nearby table (Jean-Pierre Mocky). When he asks Godard to show some respect, the film-maker accuses his generation of betraying France and his friends are embarrassed when he insults the man's wife. He tries to goad Wiazemsky into agreeing that it's better to be a whore than be married to an imbecile, but she ignores the irony in his bilious remark.

The couple attend a student meeting at the Sorbonne, where the chair asks him to say a few words. Slogans litter the screen, as Godard quotes Mao Zedong and Che Guevara. But an angry young man accuses him of being as much part of the establishment as Coca-Cola and Mickey Mouse and Godard is forced to cede the floor with a sheepish look that makes Wiazemsky feel ashamed that he always picks fights with the elderly but backs down to loudmouthed youths. As they walk away, he admits that he detests the old and that he feels part of the problem when confronted by passionate advocates (even when they are in the wrong).

He thinks he finds a way out of his dead end after meeting Jean-Pierre Gorin (Félix Kysyl) at a party and he is too engrossed by his ideas on collective film-making to pay attention to Wiazemsky. However, the moment she starts chatting to a dancer (Roman Kané), Godard becomes jealous and they argue on the way home. A scuffle between protesters and the police interrupts them, however, and Godard has another pair of glasses destroyed. But they patch up while watching Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), with Wiazemsky's tears as Godard urges her to show greater independence matching those of Renée Falconetti on the screen of the deserted theatre.

On another march, Godard takes his 16mm camera and is nettled when Jean-Jock (Arthur Orcier) berates him for planning to go to Cannes to support Cournot, whose debut feature, Les Gauloises bleues, is due to show in competition. He is more abrasive, however, when an older man (Paul Minthe) urges him to make more films with Jean-Paul Belmondo and positively rude to a student writing a thesis on his oeuvre (Laurent Soffiati), whom he calls a zombie for wasting his time on dead movies. Godard also goes on the attack when he meets advertising executive Eric de la Meignière (Stéphane Varupenne) at a party and he breaks another pair of specs when a discussion on Mao and Fascism culminates in a scuffle.

While Godard joins Gorin and Jean-Jock in filming on the streets, Wiazemsky accepts an invitation to stay near Cannes at a house belonging to Rosier's father (and a brief insert informs us that Pierre Lazareff founded the pro-De Gaulle newspaper, France Soir). As they listen to the radio, they hear Godard leading a bid to close the festival down and the report ends with the revelation that his glasses were broken in a scuffle. However, they all know their idyllic holiday is over when Godard shows up and immediately starts bellyaching about staying in Lazareff's house. Rosier tells him he's welcome to start walking home, as the general strike he has been calling for has depleted petrol supplies.

Refusing to go to the beach, Godard ploughs through a stack of dime novels with lurid titles that all refer to his declining relationship with Wiazemsky. She shrugs when he denounces her for getting a tan in the middle of a revolution, but is hurt when he insults her and makes little attempt to respond to his amorous advances in bed. Her opinion slips another notch when Emile (Marc Fraize) finds some fuel and they collect Cournot from Cannes on the way back to Paris. He is unhappy that Godard helped close the festival, as his film needed a high-profile premiere. But their argument quickly moves on to the state of world cinema and Cournot (who is also a critic) despairs when Godard opines that Jean Renoir, Fritz Lang and John Ford are all redundant and that the only films that defy bourgeois convention are the comedies of the Marx Brothers and Jerry Lewis. When Emile avers that he likes escapist entertainment, Godard snaps that he wouldn't teach peasants how to run a farm and Rosier accuses him of being insufferable. Only Wiazemsky remains silent, with her arm around her husband in the cramped backseat. But her expression says much about her growing disillusion.

Back in Paris, she hopes that things can get back to normal. But Godard mansplains that revolution is about flux before accompanying her to the Sorbonne for another meeting. He notices how friendly she is with fellow student Paul (Quentin Dolmaire) and feels the need to show off during the debate by claiming that the Jews in Palestine are the Nazis of the new age. His views are greeted with disbelieve by the audience and he leaves the chamber in high dudgeon, only to see a piece of graffiti reading, `Godard: The Supreme Swiss-Maoist Jerk'. The film flips into negative, as the shock registers on his face, and the visuals continue to switch as an LP sticks on the record player while Wiazemsky is trying to cheer him up back at their apartment.

Tired of being the celebrity revolutionary who is out of step with the younger generation, Godard throws in his lot with Gorin, who believes that cinema should be a hammer in the hands of anyone who needs it. However, Jean-Jock has no idea why they have named their enterprise the Dziga Vertov Group and Wiazemsky has misgivings about Godard declaring himself dead to be reborn as part of a commune. She is even more flummoxed when he applies glue to his fingers to cover up his prints and then keeps getting stuck to pieces of paper. However, she loses patience when he visits Bernardo Bertolucci (Guido Caprino) in Rome and pities him for lacking the foresight to realise that cinema has changed forever. He tries to apologise on the train home by suggesting that they make a film in Prague with Gorin. But she forces her smile when Godard jokes `such is life on board the Redoubtable'.

Such is the tension between them that a breakfast discussion about their plans for the day comes with unspoken subtitles. Godard is unhappy that Wiazemsky is considering a script by Marco Ferreri (Emmanuele Aita) that requires her to be naked for much of the time. He calls to query the idea and the pair wander around their apartment naked while debating the need for nudity in films before she gets a call from Ferreri suggesting that she remains clothed while her male co-stars appear in the buff. Godard is pained that they will be apart for two months, but Wiazemsky likes the idea and signs up for The Seed of Man (1969).

During the shoot, Godard pays her a visit and she senses before his arrival that he is going to be in a bad mood. They dine apart from the cast and crew and Godard sneers at Ferreri's holiday camp approach to film-making. Alone in their room, he asks Wiazemsky if she has slept with her co-star and, when she mumbles from the bathroom that she doesn't love him any more, he accuses her of finding an excuse to abandon him. Needing to sleep, she refuses to argue and he is left to stare at the ceiling and wonder where it all went wrong.

Next morning, Wiazemsky realises that Godard has taken an overdose of sleeping pills and she bangs on the doors along the corridor to summon help. In voiceover, she admits that her love for him died instead of him, as she could never forgive the violence of his act against her. She also reveals that they split up while making the Maoist Western, Vent d'est (1970), on which Godard struggled to suppress his auteur instincts in the name of communality. He admits that something broke in him around this period and that he regrets hurting so many people. But he needed to change himself as a man and as an artist and `such is life on board the Redoubtable'.

Less an act of revenge than a mournful rumination on the way things turn out, Wiazemsky's text has been adapted with knowing respect by a director who knows all about working with a spouse. Bérénice Bejo has to be content with a supporting role here, but she proves a fine foil to Stacy Martin during the subtle exchanges of glances that allow Wiazamsky to share her growing frustration with her husband's faux pas and foibles. But this is less a chronicle of a divorce foretold than a speculation on the effects that the May Days had on Jean-Luc Godard as a man, a lover, an artist and as an activist.

Some have accused Hazanavicius of producing a sacrilegious hatchet job. But, while he may not be an avowed admirer of Godard's work, this is too full of affectionate allusions to his use of captions, tracking shots, jump cuts and other self-reflexive gambits to be a hostile broadside. There's certainly nothing wrong with pricking the pomposity that drove a wedge between Godard and his erstwhile nouvelle vague colleagues and his audience, while the bits of business with the glasses stop short of making him look too Clouseauesque (that's Jacques not Henri-Georges). Indeed, considering the number of conceited, spiteful and wrong-headed utterances that Godard spews forth during the course of the picture, Hazanavicius and Louis Garrel do well to make him seem even vaguely sympathetic.

Bearing much more of a resemblance to Godard than Martin does to Wiazemsky (who looks a lot like his first wife and muse, Anna Karina), Garrel gets away with the receding wig, the lisp and the mumbling Swiss accent. But Hazanavicius also captures his spirit in the look and feel of the film, thanks to the excellence of the dialogue and the counterpointing of word and image, as well as Guillaume Schiffman's vivid photography and the unshowy authenticity of Christian Marti's sets and Sabrina Riccardi's costumes. It's easy to see why Godard and his devotees might not be best pleased. But even the loftiest can stand to have their pedestals rocked from time to time. Perhaps he should have avoided rubbing John Lennon up the wrong way during an interview with the International Times, as the Beatle could have told him, `If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow.'

Prolific French film and video artist Bertrand Mandico has made quite an impression with the featurette, Boro in the Box (2008), and shorts like Prehistoric Cabaret (2014), Salammbô (2014) and Our Lady of Hormones (2015). However, he is likely to divide opinion with his first feature, The Wild Boys, which switches between monochrome and colour and employs some gimmicky casting to examine such issues as gender identity, desire, power and the secrets of nature. But, while Mandico may not be able to assuage suspicions that certain scenes pander to a kind of voyeuristic chauvinism, there is no doubting the quality of his image making or his readiness to celebrate the influence of such distinctive inspirations as Georges Méliès, Jean Vigo, Luis Buñuel, Josef von Sternberg, Jean Genet, Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Raul Ruiz, Jean Rollin, José Bénazéraf, Walerian Borowczyk, Guy Maddin and Yann Gonzalez.

As the action opens in glistening monochrome, Tanguy (Anaël Snoek) staggers along a beach looking dishevelled. He grabs a bottle buried in the sand and drinks deeply before tossing a chest filled with fireworks on to a campfire. Narrator Lola Créton asks the audience if they have heard the story of Tanguy and the wild boys, as a dog with a human face prowls around the prostrate figure, who is set upon by a group of sailors, who remove Tanguy's clothing to reveal that he has one breast and male genitalia.

A brief colour image of five boys wearing papier-mâché gives way to a black-and-white flashback of them receiving an outdoor literature lesson from their favourite teacher, Lorna Debougainville (Nathalie Richard). She has no idea, however, that they are under the spell of a demonic entity that manifests itself as a bejewelled skull named Trevor. He urges them to bind and assault Lorna and take their pleasure in the presence of a white horse. However, they end up in court on a charge of rape and Romuald (Pauline Lorillard), Hubert (Diane Rouxel), Sloane (Mathilde Warnier) and Jean-Louis (Vimala Pons) testify that the tutor forced them to drink rum and made sexual demands that Tanguy was too drunk to recollect. But the judge (Christophe Bier) is unconvinced by their graphic accounts and returns them to their wealthy families while their fate is being decided.

Eventually, they are introduced to William, a Dutch sea captain (Sam Louwyck) with a reputation for being able to tame tearaways. He compels them to eat some hairy fruit before letting Octavio (Margaux Fabre) explain how he was transformed by the strict regime aboard `Cold World' alone with the skipper, his daughter and his dog. The Dutchman promises the parents that he will pacify the boys, although he cannot guarantee that all will survive their fortnight at sea.

Departing from the Isle of Bourbon during a downpour, the boys soon discover that they are alone with the Captain and his hound, Loupia. But, having plotted to seize control of the vessel, they wake to find they have been tethered by collars so that they can only perform duties that includes hoisting a sail covered with the hair of their predecessors. Jean-Louis resents being restrained and protests that their books have been tossed over the side. However, Tanguy urges his friends to play along with William until they have gained his trust.

Identifying Hubert as the weak link, the Captain shows him the tattoos on his penis and orders him to report any seditious talk among the crew. But Jean-Louis is not so intimidated and, when Loupia snuffles around him during the night, he wrestles the creature overboard and William is devastated when it drowns before he can haul it back on to the deck. When confronted, Jean-Louis claims to have been scared because the dog had the Dutchman's face and he punishes them by tethering them together in the hold. Hubert feels sorry for his loss and the narrator (who speaks as though (s)he was part of the group) admits that they all wished they could replace Loupia by becoming William's dog.

After a few days of isolation, however, he relents and cuts the ropes to that the youths can row to Dress Island, which is looming on the misty horizon. Wearing their school uniforms, they are blindfolded and led by rope across terrain that seems to be alive and gives off a strong smell of oysters. On reaching a clearing, the Captain invites them to drink from the phallic protuberances on a tree trunk, While Jean-Louis avails himself of the amorous plant life, Hubert goes in search of the Captain, who is cooling himself in a pool. He notices that William has a single female breast, but is distracted by the arrival of Dr Séverin(e) (Elina Löwensohn), who owns the island and seems pleased with the haul of riches paid by the quintet's parents to have their offspring reformed. However, when William makes a clumsy lunge at him, Séverin pushes his head under the water before thrusting a pistol into his mouth and reminding him that he is merely a minion.

As she makes her way back to her headquarters, Séverin finds Hubert held fast by a tree excreting a sticky gum. She declares that she should kill him for trespassing, but frees him and leads him through the treacherous jungle. Meanwhile, the Captain returns to the slumbering boys and orders them to fill sacks with the hirsute black peaches. He informs them that Hubert fell off a cliff and perished and that they should leave as quickly as possible. As he would rather remain on the island, however, Jean-Louis refuses to co-operate, as his friends clamber into the rowing boat. But he rushes into the sea when they depart and William offers him a snide welcome.

Opting against binding his crew as a storm brews (in colour), the Captain is caught unawares when Jean-Louis attacks him with a knife and exposes his breast. He delights in tormenting his captor and threatens to cut him before the Dutchman wriggles free and falls over the side when the boat lurches in the swell. Jubilant at being liberated, but afraid that they might not be able to reach the shore, four friends struggle to gain control and Romauld anxiously looks back over his shoulder directly into the monochrome camera lens.

Waking on the beach after surviving the wreck, Sloane, Tanguy, Romuald and Jean-Louis proceed to get drunk on the bottles salvaged from the cabin. A full-colour kissing and groping session follows, as feathers float down on the sand to the accompaniment of a driving guitar riff and some soprano wailing. When Sloane comes round the next morning, however, he thinks he sees Hubert foraging near the tideline and goes to investigate. Instead, he finds the Captain's corpse propped up with a twisted piece of wood piercing his abdomen. He fondles the body, while taunting the Dutchman for no longer being so powerful. But, in sidling up to inspect the skipper, Jean-Louis teases Sloane because his voice has changed. He also mocks his desire to find Hubert, but agrees to search the island with Romuald, while Hubert joins forces with Tanguy.

Alone on the beach, Romuald realises that he has grown breasts and is horrified when his genitals drop off. Jean-Louis tries to force himself on the newly formed girl, only to be emasculated in turn and let out a cry of anguish. Meanwhile, Sloane and Tanguy had become entangled in a sticky tree and are resigning themselves to their fate when Hubert finds them and tells them to urinate to weaken the gum. She has also changed sex and compliments Sloane on her new look. But Tanguy has only developed on breast and, when she joins them, Séverin asks whether he is resisting the transformation or whether something has gone wrong.

As they walk through the colourful countryside, Séverin explains that the island isn't on any maps and is feared by many sailors for its gender-bending reputation. She had discovered it and the powers of the black peaches while searching for hormonal plants and had cut a deal with William to provide a service for taming wild boys in return for treasure. His metamorphosis had stalled, however, while she had become one with Dress Island and had unearthed the potential its secrets hold for ending war by femininising the entire world. But, while Hubert and Sloane are seduced by Séverin's ideals, Tanguy isn't sure he is ready to remain on the island.

Having donned the Dutchman's cap, Jean-Louis is also keen to leave and has lit a bonfire on the beach to attract a passing ship. But Séverin is unconcerned by his belligerance and opens her white jacket to reveal a gun and some jewellery inside her gaping womb. Jean-Louis takes the weapon, but fails to intimidate Séverin, who watches on as the girls seduce the sailors who had assaulted Tanguy. He peers out from the undergrowth, as darkness descends, and hears gunshots. At first light, he sees his friends loading up the rowing boat, as Séverin comes towards him with a promise to return to see whether he has completed his change.

She joins the girls in the boat and, as they board the ship, they beguile the crew with lines from the witches' speech from Macbeth. As Séverin cautions the girls against being vulgar (and falling back under the spell of Trevor), a post-credit monochrome shot shows Tanguy exploring the island and coming across a dog who looks like Loupia.

Denying viewers the option of passive spectatorship, Mandico and his remarkable cast goad them into engaging with a bewildering array of images and ideas. Some of the former are self-consciously designed to shock, while a few of the latter border on the dubious. But, like Bruce LaBruce's similarly flawed, but fascinating romp, The Misandrists (see this week's DVD column), this provocative picture is impossible to ignore, as it echoes Shusuke Kaneko's homoerotic saga, Summer Vacation 1999 (1988), in which the schoolboys were played by teenage girls. .

Often feeling as though Lord of the Flies had been set on Borowczyk's Goto or the island of Dr Moreau, the action isn't always compelling. But, exploiting the opportunities afforded by the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, Astrid Tonnellier's production design and Pascale Granel's photography are glorious and help Mandico get away with the kitschy model boat in the tempest sequences and the unpersuasive prosthetic members.

The performances are also mesmerising, with Rouxel, Snoek and Pons making the most of marginally better written roles than Lorillard and Warnier's. But all five women commit wholeheartedly, alongside Louwyck and Löwensohn, who is akin to Mandico's muse. There are moments when the male gazedness seems at odds with the gender sensitive themes of a tale that seems to delight in its contradictions. But, for all their seeming fetishism, the film's politics and aesthetics are deliberately edgy and designed to make the audience think.

It's no longer enough to unleash zombies on a metropolis and sit back to watch the carnage. So, debuting Irish director David Freyne has added a little political allegory to The Cured to spice things up a bit. The references to the Troubles may not be particularly subtle, while the scrupulously rationed jolts feel a touch calculated. Yet, with its mournful tone and murky visuals, this merits mention alongside such recent Irish horrors as David Keating's Wake Wood (2011) and Ivan Kavanagh's The Canal (2014).

An opening caption informs us that, while mainland Europe had controlled the Maze Virus that had caused violent psychosis in the infected, it had run rampant in Ireland. An antidote had eventually been found, with 75% of Irish victims being successfully treated. But the Cured continue to remember everything they did while afflicted and, with the last wave about to be reintegrated into society, the government has to decide what to do with the Resistants.

As American reporter Ellen Page discovers while gathering vox pops in Dublin, not everyone is pleased about the Cured being released into the community. But she welcomes brother-in-law Sam Keeley into the home she has shared with young son Oscar Nolan since husband Peter Campion was attacked by a Maze manic. Despite being tormented by his memories, Keeley has taken a job at the care centre, where doctor Paula Malcomson tells him that he can't be re-infected and that carriers don't prey on the Cured. He is assigned to nurse Hilda Fay, whom Malcomson is keen to help, as they were once lovers. But not everyone is as sympathetic to the plight of the infected, with Tom Vaughan-Lawlor's father, Barry McGovern, disowning him for killing his mother.

He was a lawyer running for public office before being bitten and resents having to work as a cleaner and live in a halfway house. But army commander Stuart Graham enjoys throwing his weight around and punches Vaughan-Lawlor for disrespecting his authority. The next day, Vaughan-Lawlor spots Page leaving for work and they chat on a bench about her loss and his ordeal and she feels sorry for him when he reveals how traumatic it was to feel your humanity slipping away as the hunger rose inside. However, he is convinced that the public are so afraid of the Maze that they will support the eradication of Resistants and Cured alike and he persuades Keeley to join his underground cell after he witnesses a female patient being gunned down by two soldiers who had been taunting her.

Keeley is pleased when Nolan gives him a model knight on a white horse. But he keeps having flashbacks to the day he killed his brother and can't bring himself to tell Page the truth. He also denies having anything to do with the Cured Alliance after she sees Vaughan-Lawlor protesting an arrest she was covering for boss Annie Ryan. On returning from a walk in the country, they are having supper when Vaughan-Lawlor comes to the house and embarrasses Keeley by asking Page if she could forgive those who widowed her. He also warns Keeley that he can't walk away from the alliance now that he has thrown a petrol bomb and reminds him that his future depends on united resistance to the anti-Cured backlash.

Graham pays Page a visit and leaves her a confidential file containing evidence of Vaughan-Lawlor's baleful influence on Keeley. She snoops around the halfway house and is spotted by resident Leslie Conroy, who pins her against a wall. Vaughan-Lawlor calls Conroy off, but tells Page that the Cured have a right to defend themselves against bigotry and intimidation. Sensing menace in his voice, she tries to leave and is forced to escape through a window after she is chased through the building.

While Page watches the footage she managed to record, Nolan paints his uncle's face before Keeley carries him to his bedroom. He pauses on the threshold, as this was where he attacked Campion. But he has no sooner washed his face than he is attacked by an intruder in the house and he seeks out Vaughan-Lawlor for advice. On going back to the halfway house, however, Keeley is surprised to find that Malcomson is in cahoots with the Alliance because Fay has been placed in quarantine after trying to attack her. As they debate what action to take, the premises are raided after Page tips off Graham that Vaughan-Lawlor is planning something and Keeley is detained.

During his interrogation, Graham reminds Keeley that Vaughan-Lawlor infected him and that he is a danger to society. But it's only when his friend tells Page to ask her brother-in-law how Campion died that he realises he can't be trusted and, after Page throws him out for hiding the truth, Keeley leads Vaughan-Lawlor into an ambush. However, Vaughan-Lawlor murders Graham and Keeley reports for work the next morning as Alliance members seize control of the secure unit. Malcomson types in the security code to release Fay. But accomplice David Herlihy opens all of the doors along the quarantine corridor, where Keeley just happens to be standing.

Although he is immune, the troops on guard are not and the infected set upon them with relish. As she watches from the CCTV room, Malcomson notices that Fay has remained in her cell and she ventures down to sit beside her. Fay reaches out a hand and tearfully accepts a kiss on the lips, but she is powerless to prevent Malcomson from being gored by an unseen assailant.

Sensing something is wrong, Page takes an axe and heads for the school to find Nolan. However, she is diverted by the soldiers tracking down the zombies and can only call across the road to ask Keeley to collect his nephew. He arrives at the gates to find teachers being savaged and is relieved to sweep Nolan into his arms. But Vaughan-Lawlor is bent on revenge and follows Keeley with an iron bar. Urging the boy to flee, Keeley tries to take a stand and is being pulped by the furious Vaughan-Lawlor when he is picked off by a sniper. His body has vanished, however, by the time Keeley plucks Nolan from beneath a car, where he has been chased by a pair of female zombies.

Pausing on the way home to shoot two marauders, Page is glad to greet Keeley and Nolan. Such is her relief, however, that she fails to see a figure lingering in the shadows and she is distraught when she realises that Nolan has been wounded. She raises the pistol to put him out of his misery, but Keeley promises her that he can be cured and she tearfully takes his word, as he disappears into the night with the boy in his arms. But, as Page watches news reports of the all-clear being contradicted by rumours of a colony forming in the west, Keeley carries Nolan across a field in the hope that he can keep the boy safe until the cure is perfected.

The revenant premise isn't the most flexible and film-makers usually need a decent subtext to sustain interest between blood-lettings. David Freyne certainly comes up with a novel variation by introducing the notion of sectarianism to this Irish scenario. But he wisely underplays the paramilitary nature of the Cured Alliance, as he pits it against both blue-helmeted UN peacekeeping troops and the more macho elements of the Óglaigh na hÉireann. There's also a hint of homoeroticism about Vaughan-Lawlor's possessive attitude towards Keeley, but this is also dialed down, as Freyne strives to keep the focus on paranoia rather than prejudice.

He judges the picture's scale and pace well enough, although there's little suspense, even after the zombies are liberated, and draws solid performances from Page, Keeley and the unsettlingly intense Vaughan-Lawlor. Freyne also makes steady use of Piers McGrail's restless camera and Jens Rosenlund Petersen's imposing sound design, which is capably complemented by a moody score by Rory Friers and Naill Kennedy. Moreover, he and make-up designer Julie-Ann Ryan avoid depicting the infected as rabid monsters, with their pallor merging in with the drab browns and mouldly greens that dominate Conor Dennison's production design.

Following decidedly mixed reviews for the 1950s Somerset melodrama Dreaming of Joseph Lees (1999) and the Noël Coward adaptation, Relative Values (2000), Welsh director Eric Styles tried his luck in the United States. However, collaborations with Melanie Griffith on Tempo (2003), Jaime King on True True Lie (2006) and Graham on Miss Conception (2008) brought only a five-year hiatus before he re-surfaced to guide Scott Adkins and Dolph Lundgren through the 3-D sci-fi offering, Legendary (2013). He can count himself fortunate, therefore, to have had the honour of directing the late, great John Hurt in his last starring role in That Good Night. Yet one can't help but think that this amiable adaptation of a 1996 NJ Crisp play that had starred Donald and Marc Sinden might have been markedly less mawkish in more dexterous hands.

BAFTA-winning writer John Hurt has retired to the Algarve with his second wife, Sofia Helin, who runs a gallery in the town. He is fond of chatting to housekeeper Joana Santos's young son, Noah Jupe, who keeps coming up with ideas for blockbuster movies while cleaning the pool. But, as the couple approach their 20th wedding anniversary, an unexpected diagnosis prompts Hurt to contact The Society, so that he can end his life as discreetly as possible and spare Helin and estranged son Max Brown the pain of watching him fade away.

Hoping to rebuild some bridges in the short time remaining to him, Hurt invites Brown for the weekend and is put out when he arrives with new girlfriend, Erin Richards. Helin chides him for his waspish reception and takes Richards for a tour of the gardens, while Hurt chats to Brown about his own writing career. In browbeating his son for wasting his talent on well-paid, but soulless projects, however, Hurt goads Brown into remembering the fact that he had tried to convince his mother to have an abortion and had avoided him for the first five years of his childhood.

They return to their hotel, with Brown toying with the Rolex that Hurt has given him because his wrist can no longer support it. He grumbles that Hurt always thought it was enough to spend anything but time with him and is still smarting when they arrive for supper in a chic restaurant. Over the first course, Helin recalls how she met Hurt when she nursed him through a heart attack and jokes that her family had been strenuously against her marrying `an old goat'. But the mood soon sours when Richards describes her work as a hostess at scientific conferences and they walk out, leaving Helin to admonish her husband for ruining everything.

Walking on the beach, Brown tells Richards about a childhood holiday in St Tropez when Hurt had failed to show. Back at the villa, absence is preying on his mind, as he admits that he is concerned how Helin will cope after he is gone. She tuts that he has many years left in him before cursing him for denying her the chance to have children. He tries to apologise and envies her Catholic faith in craving a moment of understanding before his demise. But Helin regrets missing out on motherhood and heads to mass the next morning with a sense of frustration that contrasts with the joy that Richards feels when she informs Brown that she is pregnant when he proposes on the sand.

Alone at the villa, Hurt is visited by Charles Dance, the white-suited local operative of The Society, who allows his prospective client to claim that he is researching a character rather than actually seeking his services. As they discuss mortality, legacy and the difference between the sanctity of the born and the unborn, Dance questions whether Hurt's character is really ready to end it all. Testily, he produces a letter from his doctor and asks what methods of termination are available. But, while Dance insists that he believes Hurt requires counselling before reaching his irreversible decision, he agrees to administer an injection and tells Hurt to count backwards from 10 at the precise moment that Helin receives communion in the nearby church.

She returns to find Hurt slumped in his battered straw hat beside the pool and has to shake him awake. He is surprised to see her, but soon begins to chuckle at being taken in by Dance. Spotting the puncture mark in his arm, Helin concludes that he has been stung and ticks him off for falling asleep in the sun and failing to answer the phone. While she huffs around the house, Hurt takes in the view from the terrace with new eyes. In bed that night, he apologises for so many unspoken flaws and Helin is sufficiently concerned by his behaviour to drive to Seville, where Richards is hosting a symposium. She persuades Brown to return with her and leaves father and son alone in the study.

Breaking the news about his illness, Hurt begs Brown not to tell Helin. He also asks him to read a work in progress and Brown settles at his desk with a bottle of beer. While Hurt wanders by the pool, he is joined by Dance, who has no regrets about giving him an extension. Indeed, he tries to persuade Hurt that it would be wrong to exclude Helin from his suffering, as she would be able to draw strength and comfort from their last conversations. Scoffing, Hurt dubs Dance a dreadful salesman and confirms that he wishes to die as soon as he has squared the circle with Brown.

He strolls on to the terrace and declares the first draft to be intriguing, if in need of work. But Hurt declines his flattery and laments that his former fire is dwindling. However, he rallies when Brown mentions that he is going to be a grandfather and wonders whether he can survive long enough to meet the child. Hurt is even pleased to hear that Brown and Richards are to marry, but he ushers him away to hide the manuscript when Helin comes out to join them. She is stunned by the baby news and rushes into the kitchen to make a salad. However, she apologises to Brown for allowing her feelings to get the better of her and they are barbecuing fish when Richards has to jump into the pool to rescue Hurt, who has had a seizure while doing laps.

While he recovers in hospital, Helin learns from his doctor that he has motor neurone disease and only has a limited time left to live. But Hurt informs Dance, when he appears at the foot of his bed, that he has every intention of clinging to life for as long as he can. He also returns to the villa to start collaborating with Brown on his screenplay and lives long enough to cradle his grandchild. Shortly afterwards, however, Dance appears in the door way to give him a reassuring smile that Hurt returns, as his voice recites Dylan Thomas's lines about not going `gentle into that good night'.

In truth, Hurt doesn't so much `rage against the dying of the light' as negotiate a postponement of the onset of darkness. But he does it with such twinkling rascality that it's impossible not to be moved by the courage of a performer who knew he was dying of cancer when he took the role. With his wispy white beard and creased skin, there are moments when he looks distressingly frail. But, when required, he achieves levels of intensity that make his vulnerability all the more affecting, particularly during his scenes with the enigmatic Dance, whose white suit and patina of milky sunshine suggest that he is a guardian angel rather than an agent of mercy.

However, the supporting roles are so sketchily written that the embittered Brown and the broody Helin strain for audience sympathy, while Richards feels little more than a persona ex machina. Richard Stoddard's views of the Portuguese countryside have a postcard prettiness that contrasts effectively with the functionality of Humphrey Jaeger's interiors. But Guy Farley's score frequently reinforces the forced whimsiness of Styles's direction. which becomes somewhat rushed as the denouement hoves into sight. He ends well, though, with Hurt's deeply moving nod of acceptance, as he gains the insight he had been seeking.

Arriving in this country a year to late to be of any commemorative significance, Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole's Mansfield 66/67 is a scattershot profile of Jayne Mansfield, who lost her life at the age of 34 in a car crash in New Orleans on 29 June 1967. Seeking to reclaim a maligned reputation in much the same way as Alexandra Dean's overrated Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, this falls way short of the standards that Ebersole set with Hit So Hard (2011), a study of Hole drummer Patty Schemel that was co-scripted by Hughes, with whom Ebersole also served as executive producer on Room 237 (2012), Rodney Ascher's excellent examination of Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's horror classic, The Shining.

Ever since she adorned the cover of Kenneth Anger's gleefully scurrilous tome, Hollywood Babylon (1959), Mansfield has been more of a curiosity than a celebrity. But, this `true story based on rumor and hearsay' strives to show that Mansfield was much more than a Marilyn Monroe wannabe. However, some of the more bizarre directorial decisions seriously undermine this bid to present the Golden Globe-winning actress as an intelligent and self-aware woman who should not only be hailed as a feminist icon, but also for providing the template for reality stardom.

The tone is set in the execrable opening segment, as a Greek chorus in long blonde wigs (including one bearded male) explains how Vera Jayne Palmer refused the beauty pageant title of Miss Roquefort Cheese en route to becoming a Hollywood star. But any hope that the information can be trusted is undone when a caption insists that Jayne Mansfield made her screen debut in Lewis Allen's Illegal when she had already probably taken a bit part in Gregg C. Tallas's Prehistoric Women (1950) and most certainly taken played Candy Price in Bruno VeSota's Female Jungle (1955), which was the only film noir produced by American International Pictures. And to think that John Waters appears at precisely this moment to recommend that we don't trust biographies penned by a gossiping hairdresser!

A gaggle of off-screen voices accompanies a montage of press clippings, as people speculate on Mansfield's life and death before historian Barbara Hahn laments that so much information about the actress has been derived from newspaper puff pieces rather than hard fact. Following a title sequence dance routine to Donna Loren's `The Devil Made Her Do It (I Can't Help It)', Part One opens with a clip from Frank Tashlin's The Girl Can't Help It (1956) before film-maker Cheryl Dunye declares Mansfield to have been a sex symbol and actress Dolly Read claims she was the kind of icon aspirants wanted to be.

Critic Eileen Jones mentions her famous Pink Palace, while columnist AJ Benza and academic Eve Oishi note that Mansfield quickly demonstrated in the likes of Tashlin's Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) that she was worth more to 20th Century-Fox than a threat to hold over the head of the increasingly unpredictable Marilyn Monroe. Co-star Mamie Van Doren and erstwhile British pop star Marilyn commend her talent for going to excess, as we see her teaming with Cary Grant in Stanley Donen's Kiss Them for Me (1957). But `cult queen' Mary Woronov shrewdly avers that Mansfield had the wit to realise that the best way to cope with the fact that she had been signed to keep Marilyn on her toes was to camp up her act.

Over comparable clips from Joshua Logan's Bus Stop (1956) and Victor Vicas's The Wayward Bus (1957), Jones muses on Mansfield's breathless delivery and the trademark squeak before `cinemashrink' Jane Alexander Stewart claims that it's possible to acknowledge her as a sensation without seeing any of her movies. The chorus sings a list of film titles to the tune of `O Jesus Christ Remember', while the screen divides into little boxes illustrating each one. We also see her guest appearance on the panel show What's My Line? in August 1957, as Hahn draws a comparison between the pointiness of bustlines in the 1950s to the missiles of the Military Industrial Complex.

Being a `blonde bombshell` might have seemed a shrewd career move, but Van Doren complains over a clip from Albert Zugsmith's Sex Kittens Go to College (1960) that such typecasting ignored the pressures placed on an actress who was rarely allowed to prove they had brains to match their looks. She felt like the poor relation in the `Three Ms' category that Quentin Tarantino mentions in the diner sequence in Pulp Fiction (1994). Underground drag artist Peaches Christ feels that Mansfield also had a raw deal in this regard and photographer Bruno Bernard's daughter, Susan, recalls him saying how sharp she was during their numerous shoots. In fact, she studied at a number of universities, spoke five languages and played the violin to a high standard. Moreover, she was astute enough not to take herself too seriously and Waters jokes that his regular collaborator, Divine, was a hybrid of Jayne Mansfield and Godzilla.

One thing Mansfield did crave, however, was attention and such was her readiness to pose or preen that she was a natural for the cover of Kenneth Anger's exposé of Hollywood scandal and excess. Yet, as she revealed in one interview, Mansfield felt it was only fair that a star shared their life with the public as they would be nobody without them. Actress Yolanda Ross dubs her `the first reality star' and notes her marriages to school sweetheart Paul Mansfield, bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay and director Matt Cimber. The Fox front office was so against her liaison with Hargitay that Mansfield lost Richard Quine's Bell, Book and Candle (1958) to Kim Novak. This punishment had a ruinous effect on Mansfield's career, as her contract wasn't renewed and she started courting TV companies to pay the bills. Yet she turned down the role of Ginger Grant in Gilligan's Island (1964-67).

Having five children impacted on her figure. But the pneumatic blonde look went out with the 1950s and Mansfield found herself the wrong shape and the wrong image at the start of the Swinging Sixties. Los Angeles historian Alison Martino notes how new stars like Sharon Tate and Faye Dunaway edged her out of the spotlight, while Oishi and Stewart suggest that her association with Playboy and her nude scene in King Donovan's Promises! Promises! (1963) meant that she fell the wrong side of the empowerment-exploitation debate being raised by the Feminist Movement. Yet Susan Bernard felt inspired to let her hair down in Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), while she became the first Jewish centrefold and Dolly Read became the first English Playboy model in 1966.

In the same year, Woronov teamed with Andy Warhol in Chelsea Girls. But, as Dunye posits, there was no room for Mansfield in this new landscape and she found herself making unworthy comedies like Arthur C. Pierce's The Las Vegas Hillbillys, with Van Doren. Yet, when The Beatles came to America, Paul McCartney announced that Mansfield was the star he most wanted to meet and her encounter with the band at the Whisky a Go Go made front pages around the world. However, rather than reviving her fortunes, this brush with super-celebrity tipped her over the slope to decline and death. Her marriage to Cimber proved a huge contributory factor, as not only did he beat her, but he also challenged her suitability to be a mother to his child and this sparked her equally tempestuous relationship with lawyer Sam Brody.

Having been content to skate through the events of Mansfield's first 33 years,  Part Two sees a change in emphasis, as we learn more about the lawyer she first hired in July 1966. Some interpretive dance is supposed to help us achieve a better understanding of Brody, who had been part of Jack Ruby's defence team following the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. But, rather than being a pillar of the community, he turned out to be a bad influence who dragged Mansfield into drink and drug dependency.

In October 1966, Brody accompanied Mansfield to the San Francisco Film Festival and archivist Miguel Pendas recalls her rapidly outstaying her welcome by trying to gatecrash screenings and parties. However, as occult scholar Matt Momchilov continues, she also made the acquaintance of Anton LaVey, a former police photographer, musician and lion tamer who had installed himself as the high priest of the First Church of Satan in his fabled Black House.

Waters launches Part Three by dismissing LaVey and his baleful influence on Mansfield as a load of hooey. Christ, Anger and Marilyn offer their thoughts on LaVey, who has ritualistically shaved his head on Walpurgis Night in April 1966. He declares this to be Year One - which Sidney Blackmer toasts in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968) - and Momchilov reveals that he took inspiration for his cult from films like Edgar G. Ulmer's The Black Cat (1934) and Mark Robson's The Seventh Victim (1943) and TV shows like The Munsters and The Addams Family (both 1964-66). Jones wonders how someone who drew so flagrantly on the iconography of Georges Méliès and Hollywood horror could be taken so seriously. But the media lapped up events like the first satanic wedding, while Anger attended his first satanic funeral.

Momchilov claims LaVey's closer to Count Chocula than Charles Manson on the scale of human evil. But he emerged at a time when shows like Bewitched (1964-72) were popular and sparked a line of supernatural and occult movies like Abby (1974), William Girdler's blaxploitation flip on William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973) that is a particular favourite of the ever-mischievous John Waters. Eileen Jones revisits the rumour that LaVey played Satan in Rosemary's Baby and we see him featuring in Kenneth Anger's Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), while a trailer advertises his special contribution to Robert Fuerst's The Devil's Rain (1975).

Dunye and others opine that San Francisco was a centre for subversion in the 1960s and we see footage of LaVey granting a disciple's wish for a male bank teller to fall in lust with him. But, while Hughes and Ebersole cast their net far and wide in trying to catch the zeitgeist, they rather lose sight of Mansfield, who re-enters the picture at the start of Part Four, as Ross and Stewart claim over images from Benjamin Christensen's Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) that she would have been drawn to LaVey because she was an advocate of the free expression of female sexuality. However, LaVey had also captured the imagination of Sammy Davis, Jr,, Laurence Harvey, Keenan Wynn, Tuesday Weld and Liberace and Mansfield had clearly set her sights on joining this in-crowd when she visited the Black House in October 1966.

Waters is sceptical about Mansfield slaughtering goats, while Anger doubts that she ever posed naked on LaVey's altar. But, as we see a clip from Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la bête (1948), Jones insists that Mansfield and LaVey were a perfect fit, as they were both `publicity whores'. Anger believes they had an affair and we are shown a dance choreographed to Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake to show how their light and dark sides melded. Dunye agrees that the pictures of the pair were posed, but she suspects that LaVey gave Mansfield comfort and advice at a time when she felt she had no one else to trust and this didn't sit well with some in her entourage.

At the onset of Part Five, Peaches Christ ponders the rumour that LaVey put a curse on Brody. Anger has no doubt this is baloney, but Marilyn informs us that Mansfield was warned to distance herself from Brody because he was going to die within the year. We hear Richmond Arquette voicing a threat that LaVey supposedly issued against Brody, as we see a trailer for Elliot Silverstein's The Car (1977), on which LaVey served as a technical adviser. Stewart now pops up to assert that it was apt that Mansfield starred in Andrew Marton's It Happened in Athens (1962), as she was a tragic Aphrodite woman, who was doomed both to search for the next man to adore her and to die before her beauty faded.

LaVey was famous for keeping a lion cub named Togare, who grew up to co-star with Tippi Hedren in Noel Marshall's Roar (1981). She adopted the beast and, in a neat twist of fate, named one of his cubs Billy after her friend, William Peter Blatty, who had written The Exorcist. Having met Togare, Mansfield tells her children about him and they ask to see a lion for themselves. However, when they visit the Jungleland theme park in Thousand Oaks, her six year-old son is mauled by a lion and, we are treated to a shoddy piece of animation showing what happened when the buxom star took her eye off Zoltan to pose for some press snaps with a monkey.

As the boy battled his injuries and meningitis in hospital, Mansfield called LaVey for solace. By all accounts, he climbed Mount Tamalpais in December 1966 and uttered an incantation that Mansfield was convinced helped her son turn a corner. Despite Mansfield crediting her Catholic faith for the miracle in a magazine interview, Peaches Christ announces that the incident prompted her to become a witch. But a newspaper cutting shows LaVey claiming her as a convert to his church. Jones considers this symptomatic of the chaos in which Mansfield lived and highlights her exhaustion in a 1966 Christmas photograph to suggest that she needed to be in a constant state of confusion in order to function.

Benza explains how the new year brought more turmoil, as Mansfield is uncertain whether to be grateful to LaVey for the prediction or Brody for his expertise when she secures custody of baby Tony from Cimber. But Hahn and Martino (and a number of metal toys) refocus us on the curse by revealing that Brody had seven different car accidents in 1967, which made Mansfield feel sorry for him (and supposedly made her nervous that LaVey's curse had some potency).

Entering `section six', Mansfield expresses her concern that Brody was now controlling her career, as well as her private life. In January 1967, he books her into a nightclub tour of Japan and she causes something of a stir when she visits Vietnam and states that she would be happy to entertain Vietcong troops, as they are still humans carrying out the orders of their superiors (Hanoi Jayne, perhaps?). Unfortunately, the audience at her USO show got out of control and it had to be cut short and Mansfield made more headlines when she returned Stateside to call for peace and lament the fact that wounded soldiers were being deluded into thinking they had performed heroic acts.

Feeling things are spiralling out of control, Jayne seems to be so convinced about the curse that she invites LaVey to the Pink Palace in March 1967 a bid to have it cancelled. Another dance sequence toys with Hahn's contention that they are still exploiting each other for publicity purposes and she sees nothing in their interaction to suggest that Mansfield was a priestess in the cult. But a dinner at La Scala fails to persuade LaVey to spare Brody and he had another car crash soon afterwards.

In spite of the threat, Mansfield needed to keep working and we see her on a trip to Ireland in April 1967 publicising her cameo in Gene Kelly's A Guide for the Married Man and her starring role in Cimber's Single Room Furnished. The following month, she hit Sweden and we see a clip of Mansfield and Van Doren in Las Vegas Hillbillies [sic]. As Benza notes, the latter was content to subsist on the B circuit. But Mansfield hoped that each new project would catapult her back into the big time and she even took dinner theatre gigs in places like Biloxi, Mississippi in June 1967 to keep her options open.

We cut to a clip of Loni Anderson and Arnold Schwarzenegger (spelt Schwartzenegger) playing Jayne and Mickey in Dick Lowry's teleplay, The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980). Clearly Hughes and Ebersole feel it would be in bad taste to depict the fatal car crash in another piece of pastiche animation, so they simply borrowed it from someone else's movie. Newspaper pages spin into view as radio bulletins report the tragedy, which quickly became the subject of speculation, as it was rumoured that Mansfield had been decapitated in the collision with a lorry on a road outside New Orleans. Hahn and Benza describe how LaVey had been cutting out pictures from a German newspaper of himself laying flowers at Marilyn Monroe's grave when he realised he had sliced through Mansfield's neck on the next page. Seconds later, he got the call that his friend had died.

A split screen next shows undertaker Jim Roberts surmising how the decapitation story started and a young actor repeating his words in a lousy southern accident, while two female companions stack toy cars on the lid of a wicker basket. It's an inauspicious start to Part Seven, which opens with a pink caption echoing the words on her white marble tombstone: `We Live to Love You More Each Day'. Waters jokes that Mansfield probably spent the first night in the ground in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania clawing at the coffin lid to get back to Hollywood, where she felt she belonged. But her mother insisted on burying her close to home, while Hargitay paid his own peculiar tribute through Charles W. Broun, Jr. and Joel Holt's documentary, The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968).

We learn that Englebert Humperdinck lived in the Pink Palace from 1976-2002 before he sold the plot to developers, who demolished it. Tech marketer Sandy Balzer now lives in the building that replaced the Church of Satan and she shows us how she puts a mane on her dog, Chuck, in tribute to Togare. Momchilov points out that LaVey died on 29 October, but had his death certificate faked to show his date of death as Halloween 1997. Woronov suggests that the fact their houses have now gone makes the myth of Mansfield and LaVey more powerful, while Stewart compares her demise to that of Diana, Princess of Wales. While the world mourned the loss of the People's Princess, everyone shrugged at Mansfield's passing because she sort of had it coming.

Nevertheless, Oishi, Stewart and Peaches Christ claim Mansfield as a feminist pioneer, while Waters refuses to accept that any part of her life was tragic, as even her death was so her. He also admits to being a fan of her films and concurs with Hahn that sometimes it's best to print the legend. One would hope, however, that any publishers would employ better proofreaders than Hughes and Ebersole, whose film is riddled with errors. It's also replete with misjudgements like the smart alec chorus contributions, the superfluous dance routines and the ghastly Elroy Simmons animations. Furthermore, too many of the talking heads lack the wit and insight of John Waters and Mary Woronov, as they seek to use their spotlights to spout their own theories or blow their own trumpets (or both).

All of which chips away at the credibility of a project that has clearly been carefully thought out and assembled with a good deal of panache. Any film that unearths the headline `Did Witchcraft Kill Jayne (44-23-37) Mansfield?' has to be given the benefit of any doubt, especially as the movie extracts have been cannily selected and are often juxtaposed to droll and/or ironic effect. But the co-directors struggle to strike a balance between the tawdriness of the gossip and the pomposity of the Cultural and Gender Studies analysis. Moreover, the failure to coax anything pertinent from eyewitnesses like Mamie Van Doren and Kenneth Anger is inexcusable, while the decision not to compare Mansfield with latterday attention seekers like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians confirms that this entertaining, but patchy and inconclusive study represents a whoppingly missed opportunity.

One of the great strengths of Dochouse is its commitment to connecting audiences with stories that might otherwise have passed them by. A case in point is Stefanie Brockhaus and Andreas Wolff's The Poetess, which chronicles the progress of a 43 year-old Saudi mother of four on an Emirati TV show that attracts weekly ratings of 70 million across the Arab world. Resembling talent shows like The X Factor, Million's Poet was essentially a male preserve before Hissa Hilal sought permission from her poet husband to compete in the fourth series in 2010. Her courage in challenging preconceptions makes this enthralling viewing. But Brockhaus and Wolff don't always pursue pertinent issues with the same intrepidity and tenacity.

Speaking to camera from behind a niqab in Riyadh in 2015, Hissa Hilal recalls how she first came across Million's Poet and was intrigued by the idea that a flashy programme made in Abu Dhabi could be devoted to traditional Nabati poetry. Having already published verses under the name `Remia', Hilal was confident she could do better than the female contestants who had fallen short of her expectations of the Nabati style. However, as Saudi law forbids men and women from mingling in public, she had to travel to the Emirates to audition and struggled to find her way on to the stage because her husband and Bedouin brothers had insisted on her wearing a full face covering.

Hilal decided to adopt a burqa and a niqab for the show to preserve her modesty and protect the reputation of her menfolk (even though women in Abu Dhabi are not subjected to similarly strict dress codes). An interview with husband Fadel Al-Shamery suggests, however, that he was proud of her participation, as he recalls how he had been smitten by her poetry and had endured several rebuffs before Hilal finally accepted his proposal. Fittingly, marriage is the subject of her first poem, as she criticises polygamy and explores the humiliations felt by the older wives as their husbands take younger brides. She is warmly applauded by the mostly male audience and takes to task the judge who suggests that she is pandering to the female voter by saying that men who respect women will know what she is writing about.

Admitting to having been so nervous that she barely knew how she managed to read her verses, Hilal made it through to the next round. However, we are shown an example of how women are treated in Saudi Arabia when a man in a passing car tries to film her and daughter Reem and they buy Brockhaus an abaya and face veil to ensure she complies fully with the strictly enforced law. Over archive images of Bedouin women, Hilal explains that the burqa was introduced to protect women from the sun and cover them from strangers in the desert. But she admits to being baffled by their enforcement in a supposedly civilised country and states that she wouldn't wear one if she was abroad.

She proves just as combative in the second round of the contest, when she declaims about the power of her poetry to tear down the arguments of her foes. Once again, she sails through. But shopping back in Riyadh with her other daughter, Nouf, proves more problematic, as the male shop assistants want to know why she is being filmed and she feels awkward talking to them.

Hilal was six when she moved to the city from the desert and she recalls how her grandfather pined after being forced to sell his camel herd because his sons refused to take it on. After a lifetime as a nomad, he found it difficult to settle in one place and the walls of his new home felt oppressive. She admits to disliking the acquisitiveness of urban society, but she did used to enjoy sneaking downstairs after her parents had gone to bed to watch the Egyptian films that were deemed too romantic for the eyes of respectably young ladies.

This readiness to confront authority re-emerged during the third round of Million's Poet when Hilal read `The Chaos of Fatwas', in which she challenged the clerics who terrorise people with their interpretation of Islam and victimise those seeking to life normal lives. Everyone watching knew she had been referring to Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, who had called for the execution of those advocating wider sexual integration, and she was commended by the jury for speaking out with such eloquence and power. News of her defiance spread around the world and she became an overnight role model for Muslim women seeking greater freedom. However, she also received death threats from extremist website and even mainstream newspapers debated her ideas. She travelled to Dubai to do interviews with BBC Arabic and Al Hurra and not only proclaims her love of Islam, but also defends her poem by saying that the taboo of religious rigidity needed to be broken.

Hilal's husband denounces the exploitation of faith for political purposes and questions interpretations that call for capital punishment. Following shots of men and women mixing at the Great Mosque in Mecca, Hilal claims that pushing women to the margins robs a society of its driving spirit and she doesn't believe that her religion would be so proscriptive if it hadn't been hijacked by those seeking to manipulate it for their own purposes.

We cut to monochrome footage of Lebanese singer Samira Tawfiq performing `Ya Ayn Mulayiitayn' in the Bedouin dialect of Jordan, as Hilal recalls the 1970s being a time of artistic and intellectual freedom when female stars like Um Kulthum and Fairouz frequently appeared on Saudi television in fashionable clothing. But this changed after extremist Juhayman al-Otaybi attempted to seize the Grand Mosque in November 1979. Grainy news footage follows of an incident that left 270 dead and over 550 wounded, as commentators note that Juhayman also wanted to overthrow a monarchy that had been corrupted by oil money. Yet, even though he was vanquished, the ruling family was so shaken by the episode that it sought to placate the more conservative clerics by putting in charge of social morality. One of the changes they implemented involved the covering of women and girls and Hilal regrets that the preachers were also given control of the media, as they used it to indoctrinate the young and the lowly.

On another shopping expedition to find an abaya for her daughter Sarah, Hilal is forced to wait outside the store after the male clerks close up for prayers. They have been looking for clothes to attend a wedding and (in perfect English) Sara explains how men and women sit in different halls during the ceremony and the reception. She is looking forward to it, but isn't sure if she wants to get married, as the choice of groom has to be arranged for her. As a Bedouin used to going where she pleased, Hilal finds it odd that visiting a friend or going shopping could be deemed sinful. Yet, when she is asked about life is Saudi in the run-up to the final of Million's Poet, she insists that she wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Despite becoming the first woman to reach the final, Hilal is aware that she is unlikely to win the coveted Flag of Poetry, as too many people are afraid of the potential consequences of her victory. However, she feels calm before going on stage with a poem written on the day of the final itself and the producers are delighted that she has got so far and given the programme so much publicity and fresh impetus. She gives a typically forceful performance, as she thanks her poems for allowing her to be heard. Yet, despite winning the judge's vote, the public pushed her down into third place - although the hosts tweaked the results part of the show to keep Hilal in the mix with Nasser Al-Ajami until the final verdict was announced. However, while she gets a kiss from glamorous hostess Hissa Al-Falasi, Hilal is edged to the side of the stage so that few see her receive her prize as all eyes are on the winner.

She is barely acknowledged backstage as she leaves the venue and her husband blames the tribes for voting for the men. But Hilal claims to be satisfied with her achievement, especially as she was able to buy a new house with the prize money. As she continued to write, King Salman embarked upon a series of reforms that saw the religious police stripped of their powers in 2016. But Saudi women still require consent from a male relative to travel, work or carry out activities that others around the world perform without hesitation. And a closing caption credits women like Hilal for ushering in this new era.

While Brockhaus and Wolff may not win any prizes for pushing the boundaries of the documentary format, they provide a cogent and involving introduction to the lot of Saudi women in general and Hissa Hilal and her daughters in particular. They leave a number of contradictions in the air and often rely on the audience to read between the lines. Moreover, they allow Hilal to make statements rather than answer direct questions about her Bedouin roots and her dress selections on Million's Poet. But they also give her a platform from which to express herself and, even though only her eyes are visible, she often proves as fearless as she is erudite.

The week's other Dochouse offering is shorter and starker. While filming interviews for a study based on Andrew Feinstein's book, Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, director Johan Grimonprez became fascinated by the testimony provided by two men at opposite ends of the spectrum. Riccardo Privitera had sold weapons and military equipment across the world while working for the now defunct Talisman Europe corporation, while Chris Hedges had covered conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa for the New York Times. Yet such was their common disillusion with the current conduct of power that Grimonprez felt the need to juxtapose their views with found footage. The result is Blue Orchids, a 48-minute clarion call that will intrigue those who had been impressed by Gimonprez's treatise of skyjacking, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997), and leave one hoping that Dochouse will find room soon for Shadow World (2016).

Opening with Aesop's contention that we hang petty thieves and elect great ones to public office, Gimonprez cross-cuts between footage of a remote-controlled missile attack on a car and Hedges claiming that we have sleepwalked into a corporate coup d'état and Privitera suggesting that politicians are prostitutes who do whatever their paymasters in the arms trade tell them to do. It's clear both men are angry and are prepared to speak their mind on camera. But, a warning comes in a voiceover from Privitera's ex-wife, Andrea Polder, who claims that he had so many guises that she had no idea who he was.

We must bear this uncertainty of truth in mind, therefore, as Privitera shows off his South African Special Forces uniforms and reads a diary extract condemning Margaret Thatcher for asking the Apartheid regime to send its `expendable rottweilers' to the Falkland Islands to help bail out the struggling British Task Force. He smiles knowingly as he describes a brutal Israeli training course that had honed his skills to defend the country against the African National Congress and its many other enemies. As he speaks, we see CCTV footage gathered by the Dubai police of the Mossad agents entering the Gulf state to assassinate Hamas military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January 2010.

Night vision shots of a landing helicopter follow, as Hedges accuses George W. Bush of committing the biggest strategic blunder in US history by invading Iraq. He cites St Augustine's maxim about Anger and Courage being the daughters of Hope and asks if there is any wonder he is angry after witnessing so much needless slaughter during his 20-year career. While he seethes quietly, Privitera blusters winkingly about the myth of an illegal arms trade, as he declares that there is only `offical and unofficial' trading. He mentions Tim Spicer and the Sandline affair, which saw the British government turn a blind eye in the mid-1990s to weapons being supplied to Sierra Leone during an embargo.

Hedges despairs the both the Republicans and Democrats are in the pockets of the big corporations and claims that 35,000 lobbyists in Washington are prepared to use money and influence to get legislation passed or blocked. Privitera agrees that corruption is endemic and Grimonprez reinforces his point about governments using job protection to justify shady dealing by cutting to a clip of Tony Blair defending his decision in 2007 to suspend a fraud inquiry into the operation of BAE Systems. He follows this with images of Barack Obama in Saudi Arabia to shore up the biggest arms deal in history that was worth $67 billion to the US economy, as Hedges accuses the White House of using drones to kill people in countries the US isn't at war with and Privitera mocking the quality of the F35 Lightning II fighter plane manufactured by Lockheed Martin (whom he claims make the Mafia look like a bunch of schoolboys).

Hedges is equally scathing about Halliburton, which he insists is indifferent to the outcome of the war in Afghanistan, so long as it keeps making a profit. He laments that capitalism has so commodified the world that it will keep raking in the dough, as the planet inexorably destroys itself. In his view, the defence industry perpetuates violence and his words are intercut with monitor footage of four figures being gunned down by a drone. Sipping from a cup, he confides that the easiest way to end war is to stop selling arms. But Privitera explains how he used to use escorts from the Blue Orchids agency to help swing deals and jokes that as long as sex is involved, the arms trade will continue.

Bribery also plays a key role and Grimonprez slots in the moment during the 2012 Leveson Inquiry when film-maker David Lawley Waklin burst into the hearing to accuse Blair of being a war criminal who was paid an annual sum of $6 million by JP Morgan for the Iraq War. Hedges quotes French philosopher Julien Benda in suggesting that society can only serve `privilege and power, or justice and truth' and the more compromises are made to accommodate the former, the more diminished the capacity for the latter becomes. As we see Iraqi reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi throw his shoe at President Bush. Privitera suggests how much the world has changed by saying that there would have been global upheaval if Wikileaks had happened in 1968.

Hedges lauds the Occupy movement for speaking truth to power, but he wasn't surprised that it was quickly crushed, as governments need to keep their peoples afraid in order to maintain their power over them. Privitera opines that the War on Terror was devised to keep this grip from being loosened after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the Industrial Military Complex sought a new enemy after Communism. But Hedges also notes that the methods of control that had been used overseas were imported back home, with the result that Trump's America is the most watched state in human history. He also claims that permanent war rather than Islamic Fundamentalism helped create the crisis in the Middle East and he lays the blame squarely at the door of the US and Israel, whose policies helped destabilise the region and drove Iran into launching a nuclear programme in order to defend itself.

Privitera shows off the Star of David around his neck, as he claims that Israel helped South Africa develop a nuclear capability in the mid-1980s. A muzak version of Stevie Wonder's `Isn't She Lovely' plays over the Dubai hotel footage, as Mossad prepares its hit. Hedges claims that such acts of terrorism risk opening a Pandora's Box, while Privitera holds back tears as he reads from his diary about the rape and murder of a woman with connections to the Namibian SWAPO group. He tells Feinstein that such episodes don't just dehumanise a person, but also turn them into an animal.

We see some young children hit by a missile and civilians cowering in a city centre during a gun battle. Hedges avers that the only people who can understand war are those who have been caught up in it, as governments control conflict images to prevent the citizenry appreciating its full horror. He regrets that war correspondents want to describe what they have seen, but there isn't an appetite to listen, as people don't want to consider awkward questions about their countries and themselves. Declaring that there's no difference between an IED and a drone or between a suicide bombing and a cruise missile attack, Hedges explains that acceptable terms like `collateral damage' are coined to distance the public from grim reality and we are shown the famous photograph of men looking for books in Holland House library after an air raid to reaffirm the message of `keep calm and carry on'. However, Hedges has experienced the reality of post-traumatic stress and he reveals that several colleagues had taken their lives because they had been unable to cope with what they had witnessed. He was lucky, though, as he was able to reconnect with those he loved and they pulled him through.

Over scenery whizzing past a train window, we hear a conversation between Grimonprez and Feinstein, in which the latter reveals he has been chatting with Andrea Polder. She had informed him that Privitera's brother, Valerio, had posted online that he had died. But Valerio doesn't exist and they finally track Riccardo down to Carregueira Prison in Portugal in May 2014. He had been sentenced to seven years for fraud and embezzlement in a deal involving Portugal and Poland, but insists on camera that he is a victim of mistaken identity, as the guilty party with whom he shares a birthday was born a year later than he was. However, he falls silent when Feinstein challenges him about the insignia on his army uniforms and a closing caption states categorically that Privitera had never served with any South African special forces unit.

This tendency to tell tall tales brings to mind the arms dealer profiled by Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin in The Notorious Mr Bout (2014), while the more considered contributions made by Chris Hedges echo those heard in such recent studies of war correspondents as Sebastian Junger's Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington (2013), Brian Oakes's Jim: The James Foley Story (2016) and Greg Campbell's Hondros (2017). But, while the disclosures disconcert, what sets this featurette apart is the way in which Grimonprez and editor Dieter Diependaele counterpoint the statements with cannily selected news clips and the chilling CCTV footage from Dubai. There's a risk that the flamboyant Privitera's dissembling will distract some from the paradoxical similarity between his worldview and that of the tortured and introspective Hedges. But their common candour guarantee some lively post-screening debate.