QUAD Cinema Programmer Adam Marsh returns with another batch of suggestions of films to stream at home during lockdown.
May the 4th be with you! Yes, it is that time of year again so we head over to the House of the Mouse to have a day binge watching Star Wars films. Alongside this we have some great music documentaries courtesy of BBC iPlayer, a new Harmony Korine film (The Beach Bum) courtesy of All 4, a fantastic new family film (The Mitchells Vs The Machines) courtesy of Netflix, new drama County Lines courtesy of BFI Player and a double shot of Franco Nero westerns courtesy of the Arrow Player.
Day One – BBC iPlayer
Set during the early years of Shakespeare's life, the story follows his journey from being an unknown lute player from Stratford-upon-Avon to becoming a renowned playwright in London. As the struggling musician leaves his family and friends behind to travel to the big city, he hopes that his dreams of finding his true calling will finally become a reality. From the great tam behind Horrible Histories, Yonderland and Ghosts the film also stars the late Helen McCrory as Queen Elizabeth I and Damian Lewis as Sir Richard Hawkins.
Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this historical romantic drama. In pre-Revolution France, the Marquise de Merteuil (Close) and the Vicomte de Valmot (Malkovich) are decadent members of the Paris aristocracy. The Marquise challenges the Vicomte to conquer young Cecile (Uma Thurman), the wife-to-be of her ex-lover. However, the perverse Vicomte prefers to work upon the seduction of Madame de Tourvel (Pfeiffer), a married and moral young acquaintance. The sexual and social repercussions of the liaisons have disastrous effects. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning three, including for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Dennis Peck knows his way around the law. He can launder money, run a scam, fix a bad rap. He can even, for the right price, arrange a murder. "Trust me" he says, " I'm a cop". Richard Gere is Peck and Andy Garcia is Raymond Avila, the investigator determined to bring Peck to justice in this supercharged police thriller. Peck isn't going down without a fight. The slick, cold-blooded manipulator intends to take Avila's career, his marriage, even his sanity with him in Internal Affairs.
The Blair Witch Project
In Burkittsville, Maryland, in the year 1994, three students - Heather (Heather Donahue), Josh (Joshua Leonard) and Michael (Michael Williams) - head into the woods to film a documentary about the local legend of the Blair Witch, a supernatural spirit blamed for the deaths of various children. However, soon after setting out, the trio run into trouble... The film that revolutionised horror for the 21st Century.
Day Two – Disney +
Star Wars – A New Hope
George Lucas directs this Academy Award-winning sci-fi adventure, the first film of the Star Wars franchise. Set 19 years after the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Death Star is nearing completion and will soon be capable of destroying planets. When Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), leader of the Rebel Alliance, discovers the Empire's plans, she is captured and taken to the Death Star. Meanwhile, farm boy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) meets Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) who vows to teach Luke how to be a Jedi like his father. When they discover that the princess has been kidnapped, they team up with smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Wookie warrior Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and droids C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) in a bid to rescue Leia and ultimately aid the rebellion.
Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back
Irvin Kershner directs this classic sci-fi sequel to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. After destroying the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has set up a secret base on the ice planet Hoth. However, it's not long before the Empire discovers their location, leading the Imperial fleet, led by Darth Vader (Dave Prowse/voice of James Earl Jones), to launch a full-scale attack on their location. While Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) flee in the Millennium Falcon and seek refuge in the cloud city of Bespin, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) travels to the swamp planet Dagobah to continue his Jedi training under the guidance of Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz).
Star Wars – Return Of The Jedi
Final instalment of the sci-fi saga's original trilogy. Following the events of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) save Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who has been frozen in carbonite, from Jabba the Hutt. While Luke returns to Dagobah to continue his training under Master Yoda (Frank Oz), the Rebel Alliance learns that the Empire, led by Darth Vader (Dave Prowse/voice of James Earl Jones) and Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), has built a second Death Star, and set in motion a plan to destroy it before it is fully operational.
Ewoks – Battle For Endor
Marauders raid the Ewok village and steal a power supply they believe to be magical. Wicket helps Cindel escape the evil witch Charal, and they befriend a hermit who may help them save the village. Newly added to Disney Plus, this made-for-tv movie was released in cinemas in the UK back in 1985.
Day Three – BBC iPlayer
Everything – The Real Thing Story
Documentary about the 1970s disco group The Real Thing. Born and bred in Liverpool, brothers Eddy and Chris Amoo along with Dave Smith and Ray Lake formed one of the first soul-disco groups in Britain. With hit singles You to Me Are Everything and Can't Get By Without You, the documentary shows how The Real Thing rose to fame, becoming known as 'the black Beatles'.
Citizens Of Boomtown: The Story Of The Boomtown Rats
With guests including Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Dave Stewart, Jools Holland, David Mallet and Sting, as well as music writers, photographers and historians, this film explores the musical and social legacy of Ireland’s first rock superstars The Boomtown Rats, who changed their own lives, helped to change Ireland and, with Bob Geldof’s Live Aid, changed the world. In this entertaining, dramatic and absorbing film, director Billy McGrath digs deep into the band’s history and remarkable songbook and highlights the key moments of its huge success and subsequent fall in 1985. And after over 30 years, why did the band regroup in 2013?
Billie: In Search Of Billie Holiday
James Erskine directs this documentary that charts the tumultuous life of renowned blues singer Billie Holiday. From her struggles with drug addiction to gaining the attention of the FBI the film unravels some of the complexities and mysteries around the singer's private life. In the late 1960s journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Billie. Over the next decade, she tracked down and tape-recorded interviews with the extraordinary characters that populated the iconic singer’s short, tumultuous life. But Linda’s book was never finished, and the tapes remained unplayed – until now. With unprecedented and exclusive access to Linda's astonishing 200 hours of never-before-heard interviews, this documentary showcases an American legend, capturing her depths and complexity through the voices of those who knew her best.
Crock Of Gold: A Few Round With Shane MacGowan
Julien Temple directs this documentary charting the life and career of Shane MacGowan, Irish punk musician and lead singer of The Pogues, featuring contributions from those who have been influenced by his music such as Johnny Depp, Nick Cave and Bono.
Day Four – ALL 4
Fantasy adventure comedy directed by Terry Gilliam. Eleven-year-old schoolboy Kevin (Craig Warnock) is rescued from his dull, suburban life when an armoured knight and a gang of dwarves emerge from his wardrobe and carry him off on a journey through space and time. Along the way they meet some of history's most famous characters including Napoleon Bonaparte (Ian Holm), Robin Hood (John Cleese) and King Agamemnon (Sean Connery) but they are also being closely watched by the malevolent sorcerer Evil (David Warner) who has laid a cunning trap to obtain their map.
Bill Forsyth writes and directs this comedy drama starring Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert. Mac (Riegert) is a young executive who flies to Scotland to purchase an entire town on behalf of the oil company he works for, which is run by near-psychotic Happer (Lancaster). The townsfolk seem happy enough to part with their town, although they drive a hard bargain. Meanwhile, Mac, who was wrongly thought by his boss to be of Scottish descent, begins to take a liking to the little village.
The Beach Bum
Matthew McConaughey stars in this comedy written and directed by Harmony Korine. Funded by his wife Minnie (Isla Fisher), laidback poet Moondog (McConaughey) is a stoner who lives a wild, bohemian lifestyle in the Florida Keys, where he has assumed the status of a local legend. Following a tragic accident, Moondog is compelled to finish his long-delayed novel if he wants to continue his hedonistic ways. The cast also includes Zac Efron, Snoop Dogg, Martin Lawrence and Jonah Hill.
Death To Smoochy
Entertainer Randolph Smiley (Robin Williams) portrays the most popular clown on children's television channel Kidnet. However, when it is revealed that he has been accepting bribes from parents wanting their children to appear on the show he is dismissed from his beloved role. Following his dismissal Smiley's life begins to unravel and he has revenge fantasies against Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton), the clean-cut entertainer who has replaced him and is proving to be a hit with the children as purple rhino Smoochy.
Day Five – Netflix
The Mitchells Vs The Machines
Young Katie Mitchell embarks on a road trip with her proud parents, younger brother and beloved dog to start her first year at film school. But their plans to bond as a family soon get interrupted when the world's electronic devices come to life to stage an uprising. With help from two friendly robots, the Mitchells must now come together to save one another -- and the planet -- from the new technological revolution
Love And Monsters
Seven years after the Monsterpocalypse, Joel Dawson, along with the rest of humanity, has been living underground ever since giant creatures took control of the land. After reconnecting over the radio with his high school girlfriend, Aimee, who is now 80 miles away at a coastal colony, Joel begins to fall for her again. As Joel realises that there's nothing left for him underground, he decides to venture out to Aimee, despite all the dangerous monsters that stand in his way.
Things Heard And Seen
After moving to a small town with her husband, a young artist begins to suspect that their home harbours a dark secret. With Amanda Seyfriend (Mamma Mia), James Norton (Happy Valley) and Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things)
A three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardises the lives of everyone on board. With Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette, Shamier Anderson and Daniel Dae Kim.
Day Six - BFI player
Set in a dusty Texan town, this neo-noir thriller follows bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya), who hires a P.I to follow his wife Abby (Frances McDormand), whom he suspects is cheating on him. Blood Simple transformed American independent cinema and marked the arrival of one of the most acclaimed filmmaking teams of our time. The Coen Brothers' debut establishes their interest in dumbness as a plot engine, and in tweaking genre conventions.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
A lone female vampire stalks the nocturnal streets of a decaying ghost town, searching for prey. One of the town’s residents is Arash, who through a series of events involving his junkie father, a prostitute and a drug-dealing pimp, encounters the enigmatic bloodsucker and an unlikely love story begins to unfold. Although set in the fictional Iranian town of Bad City, Ana Lily Amirpour’s arresting debut was shot in California, the story adapted from its previous incarnations as a graphic novel and short film. With its stark black and white photography, Jarmusch-esque deadpan humour and memorable images of a hijab-clad bloodsucker skateboarding the streets, Amirpour’s film is a superbly ambitious exercise in style and atmosphere. If you only see one Iranian vampire western this year, make sure it’s this one.
Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes, Drifting Clouds is classic Kaurismaki, mixing together bleak humour with brilliantly straight performances, the film captures the harshness of a recession with a real bite, however is never quite as cynical as it makes out. Hilarious and surprisingly hopeful, Drifting Clouds is Kaurismaki at his best.
Obeying the first rule – 'write what you know' - former youth worker turned filmmaker Henry Blake turns in an original, stylish debut feature which premiered at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival. It exposes the urban-to-rural drugs system of the title, a network which exploits children to use as couriers. Children like Tyler (Conrad Khan), adrift and so a perfect target for Simon (Harris Dickinson) to charm, befriend and recruit. Tyler's rapid apprenticeship propels the story, which is persuasively brutal and corrosive. But Blake makes it authentic and sensitive too, and his film has huge heart and unexpected optimism beneath.
Day Seven – Arrow Player
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan
The remarkable career of the movie industry's most admired and influential special-effects auteur, the legendary Ray Harryhausen, is the subject of Gilles Pensos definitive documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan. Leaving no doubt as to Harryhausen's seminal influence on modern-day special effects, the documentary features enlightening and entertaining interviews with the man himself, Randy Cook, Peter Jackson, Nick Park, Phil Tippet, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren, John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and many more. These filmmakers, who today push the boundaries of special effects movie-making, pay tribute to the father of Stop Motion animation and films such as The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, It Came From Beneath The Sea, The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad, Mysterious Island, Jason And The Argonauts and The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, the films that enthralled them as children and inspired them to become filmmakers in their own right.
Before you check out this great doc on Ray Harryhausen, don’t miss the Cine-Lit podcast covering the career of Ray Harryhausen here.
That Guy Dick Miller
Documentary about veteran character actor Dick Miller, whose career in and outside of Hollywood has spanned almost 200 films across six decades, featuring a diverse range of interviews with directors, co-stars, and contemporaries. Getting his break and continuing to work with Roger Corman in the 1960s and 1970s, these collaborations bore fruit when the various directors that got their break through Corman returned the favour by casting Dick in their movies. Movies like James Cameron’s The Terminator, Joe Dante’s Gremlins, Allan Arkush’s Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Robert Zemeckis’ Used Cars, Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, Fred Dekker’s Night Of The Creeps and Steven Spielberg’s 1941.
Before you check out this great doc on Dick Miller, don’t miss Cine-Lit podcast covering Roger Corman and his impact on 20th Century Hollywood which you can find here.
A Pistol For Ringo
In A Pistol for Ringo, the eponymous hero, played by Giuliano Gemma (Day of Anger, Tenebrae), infiltrates a ranch of Mexican bandits to save a beautiful hostage (Nieves Navarro, Death Walks on High Heels). Hugely successful upon their original release, thanks in part to the skilled direction of Duccio Tessari (The Bloodstained Butterfly, Death Occurred Last Night), the Ringo films proved influential on the Italian western, spawning numerous unofficial sequels, due to their gripping set-pieces and unforgettable musical scoring by Ennio Morricone
The Return of Ringo
In The Return of Ringo, the gunslinger, Ringo, now a veteran of war, disguises himself as a Mexican in order to take revenge on outlaws who have stolen his property and taken his wife.