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7 Day Film Diet #32

7 Day Film Diet #32

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

One of the very few plus points of a global pandemic has been the flowering of online streaming platforms. Prior to the pandemic people rarely thought about the platforms beyond the obvious choices but since then platforms have been springing up, left right and centre. For this week’s 7 day Cinema Diet we once again head to two of the free platforms (BBC iPlayer and All4) but we have put aside a few days to explore the newest platform on the block.  

Arrow Films have long been admired for their attention to detail in their DVD and Blu-Ray releases. Now they have launched Arrow Player with an amazing array of titles to stream from cult and horror to world cinema and westerns – there is a lot to explore. They are offering a 30-Day free trial before the monthly rate of £4.99 kicks in. We’ve pulled 12 films from this player to recommend this week. 

Day 1 – BBC iPlayer 

Edie

See the film here

Following the death of her controlling husband, 83 year old Edie (Shelia Hancock) sets her sights on realising a lifelong dream of climbing the Scottish mountain Suilven. Recruiting local man Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) to help her on her trip, the pair form a strong bond as they set out to complete their goal. 

Empire Of The Sun 

See the film here

A British boy (Christian Bale) living in Shanghai becomes separated from his parents when Japan invades China at the outset of World War II. The film, based on J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, traces his progress through prison camp life and his steely determination to survive. Steven Spielberg direct Bale alongside John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and Nigel Havers. 

Frantz 

See the film here

The film follows German woman Anna (Beer) whose fiance Frantz (Anton von Lucke) has just been killed in the First World War. On one of her daily visits to his grave, a year after his death, she is startled by a young Frenchman named Adrien (Pierre Niney) who claims to know her late partner from their shared time studying in Paris together before the war. Won over by his story and sympathetic to his fragile state, Anna invites him to meet Frantz's parents, Dr Hans (Ernst Stotzner) and Magda Hoffmeister (Marie Gruber) with whom she now lives. Although they are initially hostile towards the Frenchman they soon warm to his charms, as does Anna. When she follows him back to Paris, however, she is still conflicted about her attachment to Frantz and whether her future truly lies with Adrien. French-German drama co-written and directed by Francois Ozon. 

Beats 

See the film here

Best friends Johnno (Cristian Ortega) and Spanner (Lorn Macdonald) promise to make the most of what may be their final summer together as Johnno is set to move to a newly built suburb with his mother Alison (Laura Fraser) and stepfather Robert (Brian Ferguson). When the teenagers find out about an illegal rave happening they see it as a fitting way to culminate their friendship as they revel in the dance and techno music that they both love. Scottish coming of age drama directed by Brian Welsh.  

Day 2 – All4 

Venus  

See the film here

Hanif Kureishi-penned comedy drama starring Peter O'Toole and Leslie Phillips as Maurice and Ian, a pair of veteran actors who never quite hit the big time and now find themselves in their 'Golden Years'. They continue to work, though the jobs are far from glamorous. Their comfortable routine and witty banter over breakfast in a favourite place is disrupted by the arrival of Ian's grand-niece, Jessie (Jodie Whittaker). Jessie quickly tries her great-uncle's patience; but Maurice is absolutely taken with the young woman and proceeds to show her the cultural sights of London. As Maurice tries to give Jessie the benefit of s experience, he is surprised to discover how very little he knows... 

The Acid House 

See the film here

Irvine Welsh adapts three stories from his 'Acid House' collection for the screen. In 'The Granton Star Cause', Boab Coyle (Stephen McCole) is happy playing for his local football team and dating girlfriend Evelyn. When he loses both, however, along with his job and home, he turns to drink - only to meet God (Maurice Roëves) in a pub. 'A Soft Touch' tells the story of Johnny (Kevin McKidd), an easily manipulated man who loses his girlfriend to violent and psychotic neighbour Larry (Gary McCormack). In 'The Acid House', raver Coco (Ewen Bremner) finds that he has swapped places with Tom, newborn baby of middle class couple Rory (Martin Clunes) and Jenny, after an acid trip. 

Shallow Grave 

See the film here

Three yuppie flatmates, Juliet, David and Alex (Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor) advertise for a fourth person to join them in their stylish apartment. They end up with the mysterious Hugo (Keith Allen) who promptly dies in his bed of a drug overdose, leaving a million pounds cash in a suitcase under his bed. The greedy threesome then agrees to dispose of the body and keep the loot. However, this means cutting off the hands and feet of the body, smashing the teeth, and finally burying it in the woods. They also ignore the rightful owners of the money, remaining unaware that those owners are, along with the police, hot on their trail. Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) directs.  

Trainspotting  

See the film here

Danny Boyle directs this adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel about a group of young Edinburgh heroin addicts. Ewan McGregor stars as Mark Renton, the most reflective member of a group that also includes the compulsive womaniser, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and the hapless Spud (Ewen Bremner). Renton, Spud and Sick Boy's issues with drugs alternatively irritate and amuse their friend, Begbie (Robert Carlyle), a periodic psychopath whose outbursts of violence are one of the many factors that convince Renton to leave for London in the hope of starting a new life. Renton enjoys some success remoulding himself as an estate agent in the English capital, but it isn't long before his Edinburgh friends catch up with him. Begbie and co. need the money Renton has saved from his job to finance the drug deal that could make them all rich... 

Day 3 – Arrow Player 

Cinema Paradiso 

See the film here

Director Guiseppe Tornatore's award-winning film focuses on the effect that cinema had on the inhabitants of a small Sicilian village during World War Two. After receiving news of the death of an old friend, director Salvatore Di Vita (Jacques Perrin) returns to his home village after spending 30 years away. In flashback, Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio/Marco Leonardi) recalls his fatherless childhood, his fascination with the films he saw at the local cinema and his adventures with Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the cinema's projectionist. 

Bicycle Thieves 

See the film here

Heralded as the greatest film ever made on release, winning an Oscar in 1949 and topping the Sight & Sound film poll in 1952. Bicycle Thieves tells the story of Antonio, a long unemployed man who finally finds employment putting up cinema posters for which he needs a bicycle. His wife pawns all the family linen to redeem the already pawned bicycle and for Antonio salvation has come, until the bicycle is stolen. Antonio and his son take to the streets in a desperate search to find the bicycle. Bicycle Thieves is as much about the position of Italians in post-War, post-Fascist Italy as the relationship between father and son, told through the labyrinth of the cinematic city with De Sica’s arresting visual poetry. Defining neorealism, a small period of filmmaking that focused on simple, humanist stories, Bicycle Thieves was one of the most captivating and moving. 

Winter’s Bone 

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Debra Granik directs this tense drama based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, set in the poverty-stricken backwoods of the Ozarks. Jennifer Lawrence stars as 17-year-old Ree Dolly, who is forced to take care of her little brother and sister, as well as her catatonic mother, after she discovers that her father, who has been running a crystal meth laboratory, has been arrested and has put the family home up as collateral for bail. Now, if he fails to attend the court hearing, the family will lose its home. Risking her own life and fiercely protecting her mother and younger siblings, Ree sets out to track down her father and piece together the truth behind his disappearance. 

The Case Of The Scorpion’s Tail 

See the film here

Italian thriller directed by Sergio Martino. After inheriting a fortune following the death of her husband in a freak accident, Lisa (Ida Galli) is mysteriously murdered and the money is stolen. Determined to find the cash and uncover the identity of the murderer, insurance officer Peter Lynch (George Hilton) begins to investigate. The cast also includes Anita Strindberg, Alberto de Mendoza and Janine Reynaud. 

Day 4 – BBC iPlayer - Storyville 

The Night Notre-Dame Burned 

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A Storyville documentary that tells the dramatic story of the devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral on 15 April 2019. Blow by blow, it follows the team of brave firefighters as they face the epic responsibility of saving one of the city's most emblematic and much–loved symbols from burning to the ground. As well as on-the-ground helmet cam and drone footage of the unfolding, dramatic events, the film-makers – the Naudet Brothers – who famously recorded the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11 in New York – were themselves at the scene to record a moment in history in their own capital city.  

Whirlybird: Live about LA 

See the film here

Flying high above Los Angeles in a whirling news helicopter, Marika Gerrard and Zoey Tur (then known as Bob) spent the 80s and 90s capturing the city’s most epic breaking news stories. Before the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, this daring husband-and-wife team invested in a helicopter and pilot’s licence, taking their cameras to the sky and changing broadcast news forever.  A wholly unique take on the story of Los Angeles, told through stunning aerial footage and remarkable home videos, Whirlybird reframes many of the city’s pivotal moments of the 1990s, including the OJ Simpson pursuit and the 1992 riots. 

Pepe The Frog: Feels Good Man 

See the film here

Pepe the Frog started life in 2005 as a cute cartoon character in Boy’s Club, an American indie comic on Myspace. Today, he is known as an international hate symbol after being hijacked by the alt-right. Pepe the Frog: Feels Good Man follows Pepe’s creator, artist Matt Furie, as he fights to bring back his lovable comic-book character from the dark forces who stole him. As the internet exploded, memes of the benign and chill frog-dude started sweeping the internet with lightning speed. Once his image found its way into controversial online community 4chan – the anonymous, anything-goes forum rife with misogyny and racism - there was no turning back. Pepe re-emerged from the darkest corner of the internet decorated with swastikas and spewing racist slurs. He was even caught up in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  

Exactly how that happened is a wild journey into the heart of online life today and an exploration of how a character meant to bring joy and fun slowly morphed into something else. Maybe, just maybe, he can change again. 

Murder in The Bush: Cold Case Hammarskjold

See the film here

Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Björkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjöld. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than the murder of the secretary-general of the United Nations. In 1961, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane mysteriously crashed, killing Hammarskjöld and most of the crew. With the case still unsolved over 50 years later, Danish journalist, film-maker and provocateur Mads Brügger leads us down an investigative rabbit hole to unearth the truth. Scores of false starts, dead ends and elusive interviews later, Brügger and his sidekick, Swedish Göran Björkdahl, begin to sniff out something more monumental than anything they had initially imagined.  

In his signature provocateur style, Brügger becomes both film-maker and subject, challenging the very nature of truth by ‘performing’ the role of truth seeker. As Brügger uncovers a major secret that could send shockwaves around the world, we realise that sometimes absurdity and irony are the emboldening ingredients needed to confront what is truly sinister in the world.  Cold Case Hammarskjöld was premiered at Sundance in 2019 and won the Directing Award for World Cinema Documentary. 

Day 5 – Arrow Player 

If You Meet Sartana… Pray For Death 

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In 'If You Meet Sartana... Pray for Death' (1968), when a stagecoach is robbed and the stolen loot turns up with vicious killer Lasky (William Berger), notorious marksman Sartana (Gianni Garko) is tasked with getting the money back. First film in a series of Italian westerns made in the wake of the success of the Django series and the Dollars trilogy. 

The Holy Mountain 

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In The Holy Mountain, Alejandro Jodorowsky plays The Alchemist, a guru who guides a troupe of pilgrims on a quest to ascend the Holy Mountain in search of spiritual enlightenment. Influential, controversial and endlessly fascinating. Jodorowsky’s earlier films El Topo and Fando y Lis are also featured on the Arrow Player.  

 As a primer before you watch The Holy Mountain, why not listen to the Cine-Lit podcast as they try to understand Alejandro Jodorowsky and come out the other side…. Just as confused.  

https://shows.acast.com/cine-lit/episodes/bonus-alejandro-jodorowsky

Breaking The Waves 

See the film here

In 1970's Scotland, young Bess meets and falls in love with oil rig worker Jan. Despite opposition they marry, and when Jan returns to the rigs Bess counts the days until his return. After Jan is paralysed in an accident, he urges Bess to take a lover and relate their sexual acts to him. Lars Von Trier’s breakthrough film to wider audiences features a stellar performance from Emily Watson. 

Tetsuo – The Iron Man

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A strange man known only as the "metal fetishist", who seems to have an insane compulsion to stick scrap metal into his body, is hit and possibly killed by a Japanese "salaryman", out for a drive with his girlfriend. The salaryman then notices that he is being slowly overtaken by some kind of disease that is turning his body into scrap metal, and that his nemesis is not in fact dead but is somehow masterminding and guiding his rage and frustration-fueled transformation. 

Day 6 – Arrow Player 

Battles Without Honour And Humanity 

See the film here

When Battles Without Honour and Humanity first hit Japanese screens in January 1973, partially inspired by the success of The Godfather, it blasted out a new Ground Zero for crime cinema not only in Japan, but in the rest of the world, and spawned a legendary series that would lead to additional episodes, spin-offs, and countless imitations. 1947. Ex-soldier Shôzô Hirono (Bunta Sugawara), after proving his ability with a gun, emerges from the teeming black markets of postwar Kure City into the professional world of the yakuza. Shôzô makes his way from prison to boss in the newly-formed Yamamori family via gang feuds, assassinations and the shifting allegiances of his fellow mobsters, despite his own growing disillusionment with the men he is supposed to respect. 

Like a head-spinning mixture of Martin Scorsese and Paul Greengrass, the film’s frenetic cinematography, colourful characters, and iconic score by Toshiaki Tsushima will leave you thrilled and exhausted, as you embark on one of the world’s greatest gangster film series. 

Heathers

See the film here

Widely acknowledged as a true cult classic of modern American cinema, Heathers has captured the imaginations of troubled teenagers the world over with its acerbic satire of the sugar-coated high school movies of the 1980s. Directed by Michael Lehmann, Heathers pushed the teen comedy into dark and nightmarish territory and is distinguished by the career defining central performances of its stars Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. 

Gamera: Guardian Of The Universe 

See the film here

Created by Daiei Film intending to compete with the success of Toho Studio’s Godzilla franchise, Gamera burst onto screens in 1965 and in eight films to 1980. Following a long absence from the big screen, Gamera made a triumphant return to form in time for his 30th anniversary, with upgraded special effects and a more serious tone. Now a guardian deity, Gamera tussles with a new incarnation of his old foe - the flying monster Gyaos - first in Fukuoka, and then in a spectacular aerial battle over Tokyo. 

Vampyres 

See the film here

Deep in the English countryside, two very attractive bisexual vampires (Marianne Morris and Anulka) spend their evenings hunting male and female prey to take back to their lair for orgies of sex and blood. When a young couple stumble upon the vampires lair they are instantly drawn deep into their world of savage lust and desire. From the director of the excellent Symptoms, José Ramón Larraz, Vampyres acted as a raunchier counterpoint to Hammer Studios upon its release in 1975. 

Day 7 – BBC iPlayer 

A Matter Of Life And Death 

See the film here

Classic fantasy from Powell and Pressburger in which an RAF pilot must argue for his life in a celestial trial after a mix-up sees him survive a fall from his plane. When Peter Carter (David Niven)'s plane is struck on his way back to England from a bombing mission and his parachute destroyed, he prepares himself for death. Incredibly, however, he awakes safely on the ground the next day. It turns out that the emissary sent from Heaven to carry him to his death, Conductor 71 (Marius Goring), was unable to locate him in the fog, but has now arrived to take him to the next world. Carter refuses to go, having fallen in love with the radio operator who talked to him while the plane was going down, June (Kim Hunter). A trial is convened in Heaven to see if Carter should be allowed to live on. Will the pilot be able to convince the court that his love for June is strong enough that he should be given another chance? 

Brideshead Revisited  

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Matthew Goode plays young army officer Charles Ryder, who is scarred for life as a student at Oxford after falling under the spell of the aristocratic family of fellow student Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw). Years later, Charles is stationed to the family's now-deserted home, Brideshead, where he looks back on his visits there as a young man, and his encounters with Lord and Lady Marchmain (Michael Gambon and Emma Thompson), the flamboyant Sebastian and his flirtatious sister Julia (Hayley Atwell). 

I Walked With A Zombie

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A Canadian nurse, Betsy, arrives on a Caribbean island to tend an invalid woman who appears to suffer from an unexplained paralysis. The horrific truth soon emerges, however, amid the haunting rhythms of the voodoo drums. Part of a string of stellar B Movies producer Val Lewton oversaw at RKO in the 1940s.  

This Beautiful Fantastic

See the film here 

A contemporary fairy tale revolving around the most unlikely of friendships between a reclusive agoraphobic young woman with dreams of being a children's book author and a curmudgeonly old widower set against the backdrop of a beautiful garden in the heart of London. Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay) is a beautifully quirky young woman who dreams of writing and illustrating a successful children's book. Despite her abandonment as a child the all-consuming OCD the unfulfilled dream her awful boss at the library and her paralysing fear of flora and fauna, Bella is down but not out. With Andrew Scott, Anna Chancellor and Tom Wilkinson.