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7 Day Film Diet #29

7 Day Film Diet #29

QUAD Cinema Programmer Adam Marsh returns with another batch of suggestions of films to stream at home during lockdown.

More free delights across the streaming platforms as we explore BBC iPlayer, All4 and Rakuten TV for this week’s selections.   

Day One – BBC iPlayer 

I Am Greta

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The story of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is told through compelling, never-before-seen footage in this intimate documentary about a young girl who has become the voice of a generation. Starting with her one-person school strike for climate justice outside the Swedish Parliament, the film follows Greta - a shy student with Asperger’s - as she rises to prominence, and her galvanising global impact as she sparks school strikes around the world. The film culminates with her gruelling wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. En route, in an intensely emotional moment, Greta reflects on the enormous toll her mission has exacted. 

Quartet

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An opera star arrives at a performers' retirement home amidst fraught preparations for a fundraising concert. Her presence adds to the tension, but it also offers an opportunity to reunite a successful quartet. The diva's one-time husband is upset to see her, while the two other former members relish the challenge. 

Shakespeare In Love

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William Shakespeare hasn't written a hit in years, and theatre owner Henslowe is counting on Shakespeare's promised comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter, to keep his wolfish creditors from the door. At the casting session, Will hears his lines spoken with great feeling by an unknown young actor and his curiosity is fired. Soon he discovers the secret of the talented young actor and rediscovers his muse. As Shakespeare falls in love with an unattainable noblewoman, the farcical comedy transforms into the timeless tragedy that is Romeo and Juliet

In Fabric

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Peter Strickland writes and directs this British horror comedy starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Hayley Squires. In Dentley & Soper's department store, during a busy sales period in the 1980s, bank clerk Sheila (Jean-Baptiste) purchases what she thinks is the perfect dress, only to discover it is cursed. After Sheila serves her purpose, the dress makes its way to a number of new owners. 

Day Two – All4 

Bumblebee

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Surprisingly good family film from the notoriously terrible Transformers franchise. Cybertron has fallen. When Optimus Prime sends Bumblebee to defend Earth, his journey to become a hero begins. Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfield), a teenager trying to find her place in the world, discovers and repairs the battle-scarred robot, who's disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. As the Decepticons hunt down the surviving Autobots with the help of a secret agency led by Agent Burns (John Cena), Bumblebee and Charlie team up to protect the world in an action-packed adventure that's fun for the whole family. 

The Straight Story

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We always have time for a Lynch film here at the 7DCD. David Lynch directs this drama which tells the tale of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), a 73-year-old Midwesterner who sets out on an unusual personal odyssey. Alvin lives with his intellectually disabled daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek), and is struggling with his failing health. When he hears that his estranged brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) has suffered a stroke, he realises that now is the time to heal the rift between them. However, lacking a car of his own, Alvin opts to make the three hundred-mile journey from Iowa to Wisconsin on his lawnmower. 

Sicilian Ghost Story

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In a little Sicilian village at the edge of a forest, Giuseppe, a boy of 13, vanishes. Luna, his classmate who loves him, refuses to accept his mysterious disappearance. She rebels against the code of silence and collusion that surrounds her, and to find him she descends into the dark world which has swallowed him up and which has a lake as its mysterious entrance. Only their indestructible love will be able to bring her back along. 

Videoman

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Ennio Midena (Stefan Sauk) used to own the greatest VHS store in Sweden but now he depends on alcohol to get through the day as he yearns for his past. When he is offered 10,000 euros for a rare videotape it seems like his luck may be about to change. But when he discovers that the tape has been stolen he stops at nothing in order to get the tape back. Meanwhile, Simone Karlsson (Lena Nilsson) struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with her adult daughter, longing for the days of her carefree youth, and uses alcohol as a coping mechanism to get by. Together, Simone and Ennio find solace in one another as they struggle to deal with their personal failures from the past. 

Day Three – BBC iPlayer 

Small Axe  

Director Steve McQueen’s exceptional film series released directly onto the BBC iPlayer are all available to watch now and are well worth your time. Described as “Love letters to black resilience and triumph in London’s West Indian community. Vivid stories of hard-won victories in the face of racism. 

Small Axe – Mangrove

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Mangrove tells the true story of Frank Crichlow, whose West Indian restaurant Mangrove, a lively community hub in London’s Notting Hill, attracted locals, activists, intellectuals and artists. In a time of blatant racial discrimination, Crichlow finds himself and his drug-free business the brunt of relentless police raids. In a bid to stop the discrimination and ruination of their community base, Frank and his friends take to the streets in peaceful protest in 1970, only to be met by police aggression.  As a result, nine men and women, including Frank, leader of the British Black Panther movement Altheia Jones-LeCointe and activist Darcus Howe, are wrongly arrested and charged with incitement to riot and affray. A highly publicised trial ensues. 

Small Axe – Lovers Rock

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Lovers Rock tells a fictional story of young love at a blues party in 1980. The film is an ode to the romantic reggae genre called lovers rock, and to the black youth who found freedom and love in its sound at London house parties, at a time when they were unwelcome in white nightclubs.  

Small Axe – Red, White and Blue

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After seeing his father assaulted by police officers, a young black man is driven to join the force, with hopes of changing racist attitudes from within. He soon finds himself facing both his father's disapproval and racism in the ranks 

Small Axe – Alex Wheatle

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The true story of award-winning writer Alex Wheatle. Having spent his childhood in a mostly white institutional care home with no love or family, he finally finds a sense of community for the first time in Brixton, where he develops a passion for music and DJing. When he is thrown in prison during the Brixton uprising of 1981, he confronts his past and sees a path to healing. 

Day Four – BBC iPlayer 

Small Axe – Education

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When 12-year-old Kingsley is transferred to a special-needs school, a group of women uncover an unofficial segregation policy preventing many black children from receiving the education they deserve. 

Sus

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Powerful, claustrophobic drama adapted from the taut Barrie Keeffe play. It is election night, 1979. After his wife has been found dead, Delroy (Clint Dyer) is brought in for what he believes will be casual police questioning. However, the racist DS Karn (Ralph Brown) and his violent colleague DC Whilby (Rafe Spall) carry out a rough and highly confrontational interrogation in which they try to force Delroy to confess to the crime. 

The Spy Gone North

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In 1993, Park Seok-young, an army major in South Korean military intelligence, is assigned a mission to determine whether the North Koreans are adhering to their commitment to cease developing nuclear weapons. Based in Beijing, Park disguises himself as a businessman, desperate to trade with North Korea, and soon reaches the attention of Lee Myng-woon, a high-ranking North Korean official. In Korean with English subtitles. 

Yentl

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Yentl Mendel (Barbra Streisand), whose thirst for knowledge is inhibited by Jewish custom, has privately studied with her rabbi father. When he dies, she is determined to continue her studies so she disguises herself as a boy in order to gain admission to a yeshiva. Romantic drama with music 

Day Five – BBC iPlayer

BBC Storyville 

Hidden away on the iPlayer under the Storyville banner are a wealth of cinema documentaries. Spend a day exploring these amazing films about an all manner of subjects. 

The Eagle Huntress

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Aisholpan is a 13-year-old girl from a remote Mongolian tribe, who dreams of becoming an eagle hunter - just like her father and her grandfather before him. The ancient tradition stretches back over 1,000 years, but Aisholpan's plans are almost dashed at the outset by the male-dominated eagle hunting community, who strongly disapprove of girls taking part, arguing they should stay at home to milk the cows and make the tea. Meanwhile, Aisholpan and her determined father - who passionately believes girls can do anything that boys can - set out to prove she can become Mongolia's first eagle huntress.  The Eagle Huntress premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for best documentary at the 2017 Baftas 

When We Were Kings

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On 30 October 1974, perhaps the most famous heavyweight championship boxing match of all time took place in Kinshasa, Zaire - the "Rumble in the Jungle" between champion George Foreman and challenger Muhammad Ali. In historical footage and new interviews, this documentary explores the relationship between African-Americans and the African continent during the Black Power era in terms of both popular culture and international politics, including the brutality of then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. 

The Trials of Oppenheimer

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J Robert Oppenheimer was one of the most celebrated scientists of his generation. Shy, arrogant and brilliant, he is best known as the man that led the Manhattan Project to spectacular success. This film tells the extraordinary story of the rise and fall of Robert Oppenheimer. David Straithairn, whose previous recreation of this era in Good Night and Good Luck was Oscar-nominated, plays Oppenheimer trying to defend himself as he was effectively put on trial for being a communist. Re-creation is mixed with expert testimony from a definitive range of commentators, ranging from Oppenheimer's Manhattan Project colleagues to academics like Martin Sherwin and Priscilla MacMillan. 

Being Evel Knievel

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An enjoyable look at the first globally famous stunt performer, exploring the charisma and showmanship at the heart of Evel Knievel's improbable success. Knievel made a career out of ridiculous stunts and rose to fame with multiple television appearances of his daredevil stunts that captured the public's imagination throughout the late 1960s and 70s. The darker side of Knievel's larger-than-life persona also emerges, especially among those who knew him best. Friends, family and business colleagues paint a complex portrait of a man who preferred to be seen as a self-styled myth. His love of alcohol, womanising, and temper were all eclipsed by an obsession with insane stunts bordering on a death wish. 

Day Six – Rakuten TV

Muriel’s Wedding

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Young Muriel (Toni Collette) feels unloved and unappreciated in her suburban home, and sets out for Sydney, where she hopes to fulfil her dream of a traditional white wedding. Armed only with her Abba dance routines and an eagerness to please, she stumbles into an arranged marriage with a hunky South African swimmer. However, her dreams of marriage are soon tested by her best friend Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths) falling seriously ill.  

The Reflecting Skin

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Philip Ridley writes and directs this horror set in the American Midwest during the 1950s. Eight-year-old Seth (Jeremy Cooper) imagines that a strange black-clad English woman (Lindsay Duncan) is a vampire. When local children are murdered, including Seth's friend - who he believes to be an earthbound angel - the boy suspects the mysterious woman, but his father is accused of being the killer.  

The Propaganda Game

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North Korea, formerly known as the hermit kingdom, is perhaps the largest source of instability as regards world peace. Its border is one of the most militarised in the world. The lack of impartial information, both inside and coming out of the country, is the perfect setting for a propaganda war, which will be analysed in the film through numerous examples of the surprising way in which information is manipulated, in and about North Korea. Alejandro Cao de Benos, the sole foreigner who works for the DPRK Government, and many locals will show us their vision of the reality in North Korea. The other side of the story will be reflected through interviews to South Korean citizens, human rights advocates, diplomats, propaganda experts, etc. 

Norwegian Wood

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Japanese drama following student Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama), whose best friend, Kizuki (Kengo Kora), commits suicide at a young age. Some time after the death of his friend, Toru grows close to Kizuki's ex-girlfriend, Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi). However, their relationship is ultimately based on their mutual grief and they soon part ways. Toru is left alone once more, until he meets spirited Midori (Kiko Mizuhara). Will he finally be able to find the companionship he longs for? Based on the worldwide bestselling novel by Haruki Murakami. 

Day Seven – Rakuten TV 

Room 237

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Documentary examining the numerous theories that have arisen over the years about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film The Shining. With a reputation for being a playful puzzle-maker as well as a notorious perfectionist, Kubrick was known for attending closely to every detail in his films, providing a field day for analysts to search for all manner of hidden codes, clues, subtexts and messages within the minutiae of his films. 

Four Brothers

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Mark Wahlberg stars in this revenge thriller. When their mother is murdered during a hold-up in a local grocery store, her four adopted sons decide to take the law into their own hands and find the man responsible for the crime. As they investigate, they discover that Jeremiah's (Andre Benjamin) dealings with a local criminal (Chiwetel Ejiofor) may have something to do with the case, and that the two policemen investigating the murder may not be quite what they seem. Directed by John Singleton (Boyz In The Hood). 

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets

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Florian Habicht directs this documentary and concert featuring alternative rock band Pulp who formed in 1978. Almost 20 years after they found fame and success with their single 'Common People', which reached number two in the UK, the band return to their home town of Sheffield where they give their final performance. The film also features interviews with fans and group members Jarvis Cocker, Mark Webber, Candida Doyle, Nick Banks and Steve Mackey. 

Gas Food Lodging

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Directorial debut from Allison Anders following the dramas of a mother-daughter relationship in a New Mexico trailer park. While Nora Evans (Brooke Adams) works hard as a waitress to support her daughters on her own, her eldest (Ione Skye) defiantly sleeps around. The younger daughter (Fairuza Balk), meanwhile, dreams her life away at the local Spanish-language movie palace, losing herself in its romantic melodramas. She is brought back to the real world by the cute Mexican projectionist (Jacob Vargas), while her sister and mother also develop relationships that add another dimension to their lives.