Another eclectic mix for the 7 day cinema diet as we delve deep into the libraries of Amazon Prime, Netflix and Mubi to supplement the free offerings from All 4 and BBC iPlayer this week.
It’s a fairly current list this week with many of the films from the past few years including some new releases but we do jump in the time machine to head back for films like Vertigo (1998) and the uniquely bonkers House (1977).
Day 1 – BBC iPlayer
Teenage maths prodigy Nathan (Asa Butterfield), diagnosed at an early age as being on the autistic spectrum, struggles when it comes to building relationships with other people, not least with his mother, Julie (Sally Hawkins). In a world difficult to comprehend, he finds comfort in numbers. When Nathan is taken under the wing of unconventional and anarchic teacher, Mr Humphreys (Rafe Spall), the pair forge an unusual friendship.
20th Century Women (2016)
20th Century Women is the story of determined single mother Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening) raising her adolescent son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) in Santa Barbara at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebeliion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women in Jamie’s upbringing – Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Field’s home, and Julie (Elle Fanning), a savy and provocative teenage neighbour.
A young woman (Ruth Negga – Loving) and her teenage son flee Glasgow seeking refuge from a violent crime. They travel overnight to her birthplace, the isle of Iona after which she is named, and attempt to live among the religious community she left behind. Iona’s return exposes her tormented son Bull to a way of life she rejected when she left the island as a teenager. As Bull seeks forgiveness for what he’s done and the fragile family she left behind try to cope with her return, Iona comes to terms with her loss of faith.
Maps to The Stars (2014)
The Weiss Family are an archetypical Hollywood dynasty – Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) is a psychotherapist whose self help books have made him a fortune. His wife Cristina (Olivia Williams) is the overbearing mom-ager of their thirteen-year old son, Benjie, a prodigious child star fresh out of drug rehab, and their estranged daughter Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) has recently been released from a psychiatric hospital. Agatha is now back in Hollywood making friends with a wannabe actor Jerome (Robert Pattinson), and has landed a new job as PA to one of Stafford’s clients – the neurotic and tempestuous actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), whose dream of reprising her dead mother’s starring role from the 1960s is beginning to haunt her.
Day 2 – All 4
The Iron Lady (2011)
Meryl Streep gives an Oscar winning performance as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in this biopic that focuses on the elements of Maggie challenging barriers of gender and class to be heard in a male-dominated world. The story concerns power and the price that is paid for its gain.
Nico, 1988 (2017)
Trine Dyrholm (In A Better World) stars as singer Nico in this Italian drama about the final years of the singer’s life as she moves to live in Manchester, tours Europe and struggles with her heroin addiction. With John Gordon Sinclair (Gregory’s Girl).
The Business (2005)
On the lam in 1980s England, Frankie (Danny Dyer) heads to the gangster’s paradise of Spain’s Costa del Sol to make a delivery of cash to a noted ex-criminal, Charlie (Tamer Hassan). There, Frankie meets Charlie’s nefarious inner circle and soon becomes embroiled in their outrageous outlaw lifestyle. Featuring a wall-to-wall 80’s soundtrack, this comic gangster film was made at the time when it was thought Danny Dyer could be the next British movie star hope…. Time flies.
Walking Out (2017)
A teenager, David (Josh Wiggins), journeys to Montana to hunt big game with his estranged father, Cal (Matt Bomer – Magic Mike). Father and son struggle to connect, until a brutal encounter in the heart of the wilderness changes everything. A breakout hit from Sundance Film Festival features two stellar central performances with the ever brilliant Bill Pullman supporting.
Day 3 - MUBI
Too Late To Die Young (2018)
Chile in the summer of 1990. As the country comes to terms with the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship. Sofia, Lucas and Clara, a group of adolescents living in a rural commune, attempt to make sense of their own burgeoning desires and tangled relationships while preparing for New Year’s Eve. Dominga Sotomayer’s evocative, sensorial work portrays with aestival languor a turning point from childhood to adulthood, in a Chile reeling from recent events. A multi award winner in Locarno and Rotterdam.
Finding Vivian Maier (2013)
This intriguing documentary shuttles from New York to France to Chicago as it traces the life story of the late Vivian Maier, whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs has earned her a posthumous reputation as one of America’s most accomplished and insightful street photographers. In 2009, Maier’s photography took the art world by storm; soon thereafter, this documentary and its careful arrangement of this beguiling narrative similarly captured the minds of many. An entertaining yet exhaustive portrait of one of America’s most reclusive artists.
The Endless Film (2018)
(La Pelicula Infinita)
Unlike last week’s Lav Diaz recommendations this film isn’t Endless. Coming in a brisk 58 minutes, Leandro Listori film is a wonderful exercise in editing. Made from the remains of never-completed Argentine features, La Pelicule Infinita is, as it were, a parallel film history: an essay like cinematographic Frankenstein, that blows new life into images that once seemed unsuccessful and pointless.
Virus Tropical (2017)
And back to South America to end the day. Born into a traditional Columbian family, Paola grows up as the youngest of three sisters and with an absent father. Making her way through the many obstacles of life – clunky romances, new schools, and various domestic dramas – Paola will gradually attempt to find her very own place in the world.
Day 4 -All 4
I Am Not A Witch (2017)
After a minor incident in her village, nine-year-old Shula is exiled to a travelling witch camp where she is told that if she tries to escape she will be transformed into a white goat. As she navigates through her new life, she must decide whether to accept her fate or risk the consequences of seeking freedom. Excellent BAFTA award winning film set in rural Zambia.
Heal The Living (2016)
It all starts at daybreak, three young surfers on the raging seas. A few hours later, on the way home, an accident occurs. Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) stars alongside Emmanuelle Seigner (La Vie En Rose) in this mesmerising, thought-provoking drama about organ donation.
Split into two halves it follows the tumultuous stories of nine couples, plunging straight into the brutal and absurd endings of their relationships first, before travelling back to the moments when the spark of love between them first emerged. Using London as their match-maker, each of their stories is unique yet familiar to us all. With a host of British comedians and acting talent including Julian Barratt, Julia Davis, Noel Fielding, Kate Hardie, Steve Oram, Kerry Fox and Paul MCGann.
Juan Of The Dead (2011)
Following in the witty footsteps of Shaun Of The Dead, comes Cuba’s first full-length horror film. Juan Of The Dead tells the tale of a slacker who decides to save Cuba from an invasion of cannibalistic zombies. As the zombies turn Havana into a gory circus of flying limbs and severed heads, the nightly news anchors continue to calmly assert the government line, that the attacks are not the work of the undead but dissidents in the pay of the United States. Scattered with allusions to traumatic moments in Cuba’s recent history, this is a zombie film with real satirical bite.
Day 5 -Netflix
Dreamlike and nightmarishly surreal, Vertigo is Hitchcock’s most personal film because it confronts many of the convoluted psychological issues that haunted and fascinated the director. James Stewart stars as Scotty, the tortured acrophobic detective on the trail of a suicidal woman apparently possessed by the ghost of someone long dead. Kim Novak is the classical Hitchcockian blonde whose icy exterior conceals a churning, volcanic emotional core.
Vox Lux (2018)
Celester is a 13 year old music prodigy who survives a horrific school shooting in 1999. Her talent shines through during the memorial service when she sings a song that touches the hearts of the mourners. Guided by her sister and a talent manager, the young girl transforms into a rising pop star with a promising future. Eighteen years later, Celeste (Natalie Portman) now finds herself on the comeback trail when a scandal, personal struggles and the pit falls of fame threaten her career.
Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighbourhood they grew up in.
Written by the two leads this film is set against the backdrop of Oakland, bursting with energy, style and humour and infused with the spirit of rap, hip hop and spoken word.
Blue Ruin (2014)
Dwight (Macon Blair), an outsider who lives out of his bullet-ridden Pontiac, is a man of few words whose parents were murdered when he was just a child. When he learns that the man responsible for their deaths, Wil Cleland (David W. Thompson), is to be released from prison, he embarks on a deadly game of retribution which means reuniting with his estranged sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves) and childhood friend Ben (Devin Ratray). Despite Dwight proving to be an amateur, his sense of revenge leads to him turning from victim into killer as a bloody duel between the families ensues.
Day 6 - Amazon Prime
Exceptionally tense drama starring Joseph Gordon Levitt as Tobias, the soft spoken co-pilot of a Berlin to Paris bound airplane. When terrorist attack and attempt to take over the plane, Tobias has to rely on his training to save the lives of the passengers and crew while forging a surprising connection with one of the crew.
In The Electric Mist (2010)
New Iberia, Louisiana. Detective Dave Robicheaux (Tommy Lee Jones) is on the hunt for a serial killer who preys on young women. Driving hom from another gruesome crime screen, Dave meets glamourous Hollywood star Elrod Sykes (Peter Sarsgaard). Sykes is in town shooting his new movie, with backing from local crime kingpin Baby Feet Balboni (John Goodman). Based on the novel by James Lee Burke.
The Town (2010)
Academy Award winner Ben Affleck worked triple time on The Town, directs, stars and co-writes, this crime drama. Based on the novel The Prince Of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, Affleck’s film follows a career criminal who finds himself romantically involved with the manager of a bank (Rebecca Hall) he held up.
How To Build A Girl (2020)
Wolverhampton 1993. Johanna Morrigan, 16, yearns to better her working-class destiny. So she reinvents herself as the fast-talking impossible-to-please rock critic, Dolly Wilde. Watch Johanna’s comedic rise to the top of the 90s music scene. Based on the best selling book by Times columnist, Catlin Moran.
Day 7 - MUBI
In a tribute to the legendary auteur Nobuhiko Obayshi – who died earlier this year – MUBI has brought the ghoulishly absurd and completely off-the-wall cult horror classic to their streaming platform. Defying categories and rational explanations, this funny nightmare vision is worth doing right: turn out the lights and watch at midnight! A school girl travels with six of her classmates to her ailing aunt’s creepy, remote country home, where supernatural events occur almost immediately. They come face to face with evil spirits, bloodthirsty pianos, and a demonic housecat.
The Portuguese Woman (2018)
The newly married wife of Lord von Ketten is determined to make her husband’s family abode, an inhospitable castle in Italy, into a home. When he sets off to battle, staying away for eleven long years, she carves out a life for herself – reading, singing, dancing, swimming, and riding in the forest. This 16th century tale of a woman’s torpor, based on a Robert Musil novel, comes to life through theatrical splendour and striking, painterly compositions.
Live Flesh (1997)
Mubi are just starting with their Pedro Almodóvar season and here is his 1997’s Ruth Rendal adaptation. Victor (Liberto Rabal) falls hard for Elena (Francesca Neri), but she doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. She does, however, have feelings for David (Javier Bardem), a policeman who arrives to break up an argument between her and Victor. That encounter however takes an unexpected turn that leads these characters down a dark, twisty path. Defying easy categorisation this comedy/drama/romance/thriller weaves a colourful web of desires and dramatic twists. With an early appearance from Penelope Cruz.
Villa Empain (2019)
Villa Empain was conceived by Belgian philanthropist Louis Empain as a private home. After its completion in 1934, he donated the property to the state. Since then, it has served as a Soviet embassy, a TV studio, etc. Only since 2008 does it fulfil its original destination: a haven for art. Some places are haunted not by ghosts, but by history. Katherina Kastner has found one: Baron Empain’s extraordinary mansion, a marvel of period design that has seen ruin and revival. With the elegance of Resnais and Raúl Ruiz, this beguiling poem of a film conjures the magic of its existence.