(MA15+) American Ultra belongs to a cinematic subgenre that sounds like an oxymoron: the stoner action film. Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is the last survivor of a defunct CIA program to create super agents. When the agent who created the program learns her replacement has ordered Mike eliminated, she decides to save him by activating his programming. Mike doesn’t suddenly strip to a tight singlet to reveal pumped biceps: he remains a doofus, albeit a deadly one. Yet for a while we wonder whether he is in fact an agent marked for death or if it’s the pot making him paranoid. Eisenberg is convincing as a young man who doesn’t trust his own mind.
A Walk in the Woods St Albans Writers Festival The Hawkesbury River region will celebrate Australian literature by hosting the inaugural St Albans Writers Festival. Authors including Hugh Mackay, Jane Caro, The Australian’s Nikki Gemmell and Michael Robotham will headline the event, with a program offering workshops, film nights, readings in the pub and ghost stories around the fire, all held in and around historic venues of the “forgotten valley”. In addition, Stephen Luby, producer of The Secret River series will speak about adapting the book for the small screen. sections involving Emma Maye Gibson and Michael Lewis. While it was originally touted as a critique of current arts politics it is more personal than that, looking into the heart of the artist. Belvoir St Theatre, Belvoir Street, Surry Hills. Today, 2.15pm and 8.15pm. Tickets: $25-$68. Bookings: (02) 9699 3444 or online. Until September 20. when he does things that are interpretatively questionable, there is always a wonderful purity about his playing that separates him from the rest. Lewis’s fourth national tour with Musica Viva sees the English pianist at the height of his powers in two late Beethoven sonatas and pieces by Brahms. His playing is full of insights and a loving distillation of ideas. Lewis is one of the most stimulating pianists of his generation. City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney. Today, 2pm. Tickets: $30$104. Bookings: 1800 688 482 or online. the digital age. Painting has this conversation: that it has a death and a rebirth. I think it always comes back.” Polo says he is interested in the presence of doubt and does not want to present the viewer with the certainty of answers. Brett Whiteley Studio, 2 Raper Street, Surry Hills. Fri-Sun, 10am4pm. Admission free. Inquiries: (02) 9225 1881 or online. Ends tomorrow.
Salon des Refuses Edge. All six finalists appear in the exhibition. National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra. Daily, 9am-5pm. Admission free. Inquiries: (02) 6102 7000 or online. Until April next year.