QUAD Cinema Programmer Adam Marsh returns with another batch of suggestions of films to stream at home during lockdown.
Another eclectic mix for the 7 day Cinema Diet with some brand new Oscar nominees from Now TV, some classic Beat Takeshi films and Film Noir Classics from Arrow Player, and a few family highlights for the kids too.
Day One – BBC iPlayer
Ben (Reece Buttery) dreads staying at his gran (Julia McKenzie)'s house when his mum and dad drop him off, expecting the usual boring games of scrabble and knitting. But on his latest visit, his gran reveals a fascinating secret - that she was once a renowned jewel thief known as the 'Black Cat' - and shatters Ben's image of his boring old relative. Together they set out on a whirlwind adventure to pull off the one robbery that always eluded her, breaking into the Tower of London and stealing the crown jewels.
Burton And Taylor
It's 1982 and six years after their second divorce Richard Burton (Dominic West) and Elizabeth Taylor (Helena Bonham Carter) hold a press conference to announce they are to appear together in a production of Noel Coward's Private Lives. As the rehearsals begin in earnest, the couple's former antagonisms surface as Taylor's frequent lateness and general indifference to work begins to grate with Burton's more orthodox and professional approach to the stage. With the play opening to bad reviews, and his relationship with Taylor as stormy as ever, Burton feels the need to re-assess his position when he realises that the sell-out crowds believe that they are somehow witnessing art imitating life.
A lawyer and businessman (Richard Benjamin and James Brolin) take a dream holiday to the newly opened technological paradise Westworld, a resort offering its visitors all the thrills, but none of the dangers, of the old Wild West, which is recreated by supposedly harmless robots. However, when one of the computerized gunslingers (Yul Brynner) malfunctions, the two city slickers find themselves in a battle for their lives. Directorial debut of Jurassic Park author, Michael Crichton.
When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) meets accused killer Christian Longo (James Franco) --who has taken on Finkel's identity--his reporting job morphs into an unforgettable game of cat and mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel's relentless pursuit of Longo's true story encompasses murder, love, deceit, and redemption.
Day Two – BBC iPlayer
Worzel Gummidge – The Scarecrow Of Scatterbrook
Siblings Susan and John arrive at Scatterbrook Farm, home of the Braithwaites, to little fanfare. It's been a poor harvest and their hosts aren't thrilled to have two amateur farmhands around the place during such lean times. No-one on Scatterbrook Farm is more troubled by the late harvest than walking, talking scarecrow Worzel Gummidge. Worzel is strictly forbidden from talking to humans, but after mistaking John and Susan for fellow scarecrows, his game is up. Worzel realises he will only save the day by going against some of his better instincts. He draws on the youthful exuberance of John and Susan, seeks the wisdom of his long-estranged Aunt Sally, and negotiates a testy deal with the frightful rooks and crows of Scatterbrook. With the help of the mystical Tree of Tree and his pet robin, Winter George, Worzel orchestrates a gathering of his fellow scarecrows on the night of the next harvest moon. Can he save the day? Excellent adaptation by Mackenzie Crook.
Finding Jack Charlton
Documentary co-directed by Gabriel Clarke and Pete Thomas that explores the life of Jack Charlton. Filmed during the last 18 months of his life, the film charts Charlton's battle with dementia as well as his eminent career in football, both as a player and a manager, from winning the World Cup as a player to managing the Republic of Ireland at three major tournaments.
Barney Douglas directs this documentary about the England cricket team. Between the years of 2009 and 2013 the team endeavoured to improve their game, with efforts paying off when they became the first England side to be named world number one.
Louis Theroux – Shooting Joe Exotic
During first lockdown, Netflix’s Tiger King became a cultural phenomenon as the world went Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin crazy but… Louis was there first. A decade on from when he first met Joe for the documentary America’s Most Dangerous Pets, Louis returns to Oklahoma to explore the saga of an animal hoarder turned convicted felon. Joe now resides in a federal prison, having been found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot and multiple animal cruelty charges. But rather than living as a pariah, Joe is now a media phenomenon, the object of international obsession for pundits, celebrities and viewers, with a well-funded campaign team attempting to win him a presidential pardon. Meeting old friends and family members of Joe’s, Louis picks apart the true crime story of how Joe came to be convicted. He also tells the story of Joe’s captivating charisma and the way in which it became a key ingredient in a viral television sensation, with life-changing consequences for all those involved - most of all Carole Baskin, originally the object of Joe’s vitriol, who found herself the target of his murder-for-hire plot and a mass trolling campaign.
Day Three – All4
The directing debut feature of British actor Richard Ayoade, this coming-of-age comedy follows 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) in his dual quest to keep his family together and to lose his virginity before his 16th birthday. Set in Swansea, the film charts Oliver's growing concerns about the relationship between his father, Lloyd (Noah Taylor), a depressive and recently-unemployed marine biologist, and his mother (Sally Hawkins), who appears to be harbouring a crush on fawning new age guru Graham (Paddy Considine). Meanwhile, Oliver ponders how to broach the sticky subject of sex with his eczema-prone, pyromaniac girlfriend Jordana (Yasmin Paige).
Sophie Hyde directs this comedy set in Dublin with Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat in the lead roles as two female friends in their thirties whose relationship undergoes scrutiny when one of them gets engaged. Laura (Grainger) and Tyler (Shawkat) share a flat and have spent much of their twenties partying together, but as those around them begin to settle down the pair obstinately refuse to change their ways and continue to live their hedonistic lifestyle. However, when Laura meets concert pianist Jim (Fra Fee) and their whirlwind romance results in an engagement she sees a lot less of Tyler. His teetotal lifestyle and dedication to his profession motivates Laura to reconsider her own ambitions of becoming a writer. But how will these changes affect her relationship with Tyler?
Sean Baker writes and directs this comedy drama about the life of a transgender sex worker in downtown Los Angeles. Having just been released from prison, Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) discovers that her pimp and boyfriend Chester (James Ransome) has been cheating on her with a white girl called Dinah (Mickey O'Hagan). With nothing but revenge on her mind, Sin-Dee spends the entire night searching the city for the cheating couple.
White-collar committed family man Jacob Harlon (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is sent to prison after killing his friend in a road accident. On the inside, he finds himself coerced into joining a dangerous gang in order to make his stretch easier and to protect his family on the outside. However, to succeed in prison, he sheds his old identity and becomes unrecognisable in his new guise as Money, a ruthless, tattooed gangster willing to go to extreme lengths to keep his family alive.
Day Four – Rakuten TV
The scourge of the American right, award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore turns his focus on the US health care system. Moore attempts to highlight the contradictions in a system that, despite costing more per person than any other in the world, ranks last among developed countries. As well as taking a swipe at the wholly for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Moore compares and contrasts health provision around the globe, including Canada, Britain and France.
Just released from the base stockade, recruit Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell) joins a platoon of young soldiers preparing to ship out to Vietnam. Bozz’s independence and outright defiance draws fire from his own men as well as commanding officers. But when the platoon is sent to Tigerland, a hellish training ground that is the last stop before Vietnam, Bozz’s leadership and loyalty bring his men together, triggering extraordinary consequences.
When the war machines began rolling in the summer of 1914, the devastation that it waged upon German, British, and French troops was palpable. But as the winter winds began to blow and the soldiers sat huddled in their trenches awaiting the generous Christmas care packages sent by the families, the sounds of warfare took a momentary backseat to the yearning for brotherhood among all of mankind. It is here that the fate of a French lieutenant, a Scottish priest, a German tenor, and a Danish soprano's lives were about to be changed forever.
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?
Day Five – Sky Cinema / Now TV
Ten years after meeting and forming Mystery Inc., Scooby-Doo (voice of Frank Welker) and Shaggy (Will Forte/Iain Armitage) embark on a wild adventure after they are attacked by killer robots and saved by the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg). Meanwhile, Fred (Zac Efron/Pierce Gagnon), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried/Mckenna Grace) and Velma (Gina Rodriguez/Ariana Greenblatt) search for a way to help their friends and stumble upon one of Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs)'s evil schemes.
Six Minutes To Midnight
Summer 1939. Influential families in Nazi Germany have sent their daughters to a finishing school in an English seaside town to learn the language and be ambassadors for a future looking National Socialist. A teacher there sees what is coming and is trying to raise the alarm. But the authorities believe he is the problem.
Promising Young Woman
Everyone said Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was a promising young woman until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. But nothing in Cassie's life is what it appears to be: she's wickedly smart, tantalisingly cunning, and she's living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs of the past in this thrilling and wildly entertaining story
The United States Against Billie Holiday
The United States vs. Billie Holiday follows the legendary Holiday, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, who spent much of her career being adored by fans across the globe. However, beginning in the 1940’s in New York City, the federal government targeted Holiday in a growing effort to escalate and racialise the war on drugs, ultimately aiming to stop her from singing her controversial and heart-wrenching ballad, Strange Fruit.
Day Six – Arrow Player
Masuru (Ken Kaneko) and Shinji (Masanobu Ando) are childhood friends, who team up in the schoolyard to extort money from others. As they progress to adulthood, Masuru becomes a member of the local yakuza gang, while Shinji shows talent as a boxer. Pursuing separate paths in life, the two friends gradually grow apart, but how will they get by without each other?
A Scene At The Sea
A deaf garbage collector happens upon a broken and discarded surfboard. The discovery plants in him dreams of becoming a surf champion. Encouraged by his also deaf girlfriend, he persists against all odds. Though trapped in silence, their expression of love is no less profound. A heartrending masterpiece that, as with Kitano’s other films Sonatine & Hana Bi has a sharp eye for human frailties and a love for the courage of the underdog.
Cult director Takeshi Kitano weaves together three visually stunning and deeply touching stories of undying love inspired by traditional Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre. The first story concerns a rising young executive who turned his back on his girlfriend in pursuit of his career. Following a failed suicide attempt, which leaves her in a mindless daze, he runs to his former love's side and now they roam the country together, bound by a red cord, in search of something they have lost. The second is about an ageing yazuka who also abandoned his girlfriend for the sake of success. 30 years later, he is compelled to return to the park where they used to meet. The final tale is of a former pop star who becomes a recluse following a disfiguring accident. One day, one of her greatest fans comes to prove the extent of his devotion to her.
Takeshi Kitano directs, writes and stars in this downbeat thriller. Monosyllabic detective Nishi (Kitano) leaves the force after his partner Horibe is seriously wounded and two colleagues are killed in pursuit of a gunman. Dedicating his life to caring for his terminally ill wife, as well as providing for the wheelchair-bound Horibe, Nishi accrues crippling debts. After robbing a bank to ease his financial worries, Nishi takes his wife on a final holiday, pursued by loan sharks and the police.
Day Seven – Arrow Player
The Dark Mirror
A man is murdered and there’s an obvious suspect, but she has an identical twin sister (both played by Olivia de Havilland, Gone with the Wind), and one of them has a cast-iron alibi. The perfect crime? A psychologist with a specialist interest in twin psychology delves into the heart of the mystery, at considerable risk to himself.
Secret Beyond The Door
In Secret Beyond the Door (1947), Fritz Lang (The Big Heat) adapts the Bluebeard legend with a dash of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Shortly after their marriage, Celia (Joan Bennett, Suspiria) begins to suspect her architect husband Mark (Michael Redgrave, Dead of Night) of having a secret past, and wonders about the reason behind multiple rooms in his self-designed home, one of which is kept permanently locked.
Force Of Evil
In this classic Film Noir, an ambitious but unscrupulous lawyer (John Garfield, The Postman Always Rings Twice) works for the mob, and scents the prospect of a personal fortune when he helps concoct a plan that will merge all of New York City’s numbers rackets into a single powerful and unbreakable operation. But one of them is run by his own brother (Thomas Gomez, Key Largo), who is much happier as an independent, mainly because it allows him to apply his own ethical standards to prevent innocent people from being corrupted by his shady activities. And it’s the Cain-and-Abel clash between them that gives the film its tragic dimension.
After a brilliant writing career (Body and Soul), Abraham Polonsky was given a shot at directing, and he turned out one of the most original thrillers of its era, combining poetic dialogue worthy of Clifford Odets (Sweet Smell of Success) with a forensically Marxist critique of the capitalist system (the “force of evil” that underpins everything in American society). Martin Scorsese frequently cited it as one of the most influential films in his life, and it’s easy to see why.
The Big Combo
Lieutenant Diamond (Cornel Wilde, The Naked Prey) is determined to bring down mob boss Mr Brown (Richard Conte, Thieves’ Highway), even if it means jeopardising his own career. But the feeling is mutual and the unscrupulous gangster is more than willing to operate outside the law to get his man, leading to some wince-inducing set-pieces (some involving a pre-stardom Lee Van Cleef).