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7-Day Cinema Diet #16

7-Day Cinema Diet #16

Adam Marsh
QUAD Cinema Programmer

This week we’ve delved into the streaming pots of BBC iPlayer, All4, My5, MUBI and Amazon Prime to bring to you a smorgasbord of films to keep you entertain, educated, enthralled and enraptured.

Day 1 – All4

Custody (2018)

After a bitter divorce, Miriam (Léa Drucker) and Antoine (Denis Ménochet) battle for sole custody of their son, Julien (Thomas Gloria). Miriam claims the father is violent but lacks proof. Antoine accuses her of manipulating their son for her own ends. Both sides seem to be hiding something with the truth buried in a web of deceit and jealousy. When the judge awards joint custody, Julien becomes a pawn in a tense conflict that soon brings the family’s fraught past to light.

12 Years A Slave (2013)

Award winning historical slave-narrative drama directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film follows the experience of Solomon Northup, an African-American living with a wife and two children in Saratoga, New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery by men claiming to offer him work as a circus musician. Transported by ship to New Orleans, it isn’t long before he is given a new name and sold to William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), a relatively empathetic slave owner. But confrontations with the cruel and violent overseer John Tobeats (Paul Dano) lead to Solomon being passed on by Ford to the extremely abusive and alcoholic partner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), who rules his slave with a whip in one hand and a Bible in the other. Believing the only hope of regaining his freedom is to remain passive for the time being, Solomon ceases fighting against the illegitimacy of his situation until salvation is offered to him by a kindly labourer Bass (Brad Pitt). Winner of Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Straight Story (1999)

Alvin’s (Richard Farnsworth) eyesight is poor, he has little money and he can’t stand the thought of being driven anywhere. So when he discovers his estranged brother has suffered a stroke he decides to make the journey by the only means of transport available to him… by lawn mower. Hundreds of miles, six weeks and several breakdowns later Alvin Straight finally pulls up to his destination, where the fate of his brother awaits him. David Lynch direct this fairly ‘straight’ story (at least by Lynch standards) that stars Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton and Everett McGill.

The Survivalist (2015)

BAFTA nominated film set in a kill-or-be-killed world where starvation is rife and strangers are always dangerous, The Survivalist lives off the grid, and by his wits. When a starving woman and her teenager daughter discover his forest refuge, his loneliness drives him to overcome his suspicions and strike a bargain with them in return for bed and board. But as desire becomes stronger than necessity, the exchange becomes an uneasy, ongoing arrangement which threatens not only his carefully constructed world but also his life.


Day 2 – BBC iPlayer

Ice Station Zebra (1968)

Based on the best selling novel by Alistair MacLean this tale of secrets, spies and sabotage is brought to the big screen by The Great Escape director John Sturges. The U.S nuclear sub Tigerfish churns towards the North Pole. Its mission: rescue the imperilled members of weather outpost Ice Station

Zebra. On board as Cmdr. Ferrafay (Rock Hudson) and his crew, several unexpected arrivals with secret orders – and enough suspicions, suspense and twists to make Ice Station Zebra an engrossing espionage thriller. The Cold War heats up with Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown and more in this epic nominated for two Oscars.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

This western from James Mangold (Logan, Ford Vs Ferrari) is a remake of the 1957 Glenn Ford film, and he’s assembled a stellar headline cast with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. In Arizona in the late 1800s, infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Christian Bale), struggling to survive on drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver Wade alive to the 3:10 to Yuma, a train that will take the killer to trial. On the trail, Evans and Wade, each from very different background begin to earn each other’s respect. But with Wade’s outfit on their trail – and dangers at every turn – the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey towards each man’s destiny.

Borg Vs McEnroe (2017)

This past weekend should have been the finals of Wimbledon 2020 which has been cancelled so here instead is the film version of one of tennis’ most famous rivalries. With Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) on the cusp of winning his record-breaking fifth consecutive Wimbledon title a young, brash American emerges to challenge his dominance. The film follows the different paths the players took to reach the top of their sport as they prepare for the championships, with Borg training in Monaco with his coach Lennart Bergelin (Stellan Skarsgard), wary of McEnroe’s rise. The pair’s contrasting styles, both on and off the court, make for a perfect rivalry enjoyed by the press and fans alike who fiercely await their eventual meeting in the tournament, a match which would go on to be regarded as one of the best of all time.

What Doesn’t Kill You (2008)

Crime is a way of life for Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke), with violence an inevitable consequence. Growing up in rough south Boston, the friends are hired hands, but Paulie dreams of pulling jobs of his own, while Brian takes refuge in drugs. Directing debut from character actor Brian Goodman with Amanda Peet and Donnie Wahlberg.


Day 3 – BBC iPlayer

One Deadly Weekend In America (2017)

Feature length documentary telling the stories of young lives devastated by gun crime in the USA, focusing on one ordinary July weekend, typically the time of year when the highest number of Americans are shot and killed. Conceived as a dramatic, ticking-clock thriller, the film tells the stories of that one weekend by focusing on seven very different shootings from across the USA, from LA to rural South Carolina. We hear from survivors, witnesses, families and law enforcement agencies, while newsreels, CCTV and police videos take us into the heart of the action.

Storyville - Welcome To Chechnya: The Gay Purge (2020)

This film lays bare the Russian Federation republic’s deadly war against its gay citizens. Countless victims have been killed and hundreds more are missing. With the LGBTQ community living in fear and secrecy, this brave and searing film follows the underground team fighting to rescue them – before it’s too late. This film follows the extraordinary bravery of the activists and Chechens whose lives are being threatened. Deploying a ground-breaking, new digital ‘face-double’ technique that

has never been used before in documentary filmmaking, the identities of those most at risk at protected. By the close of the film, 151 people have been located with the help of the LGBTQ pipeline. Yet 40,000 others remain in hiding, in need of protection.

Storyville - Scandalous! The Tabloid That Changed America (2020)

Sex! Gossip! Scandal! Over the course of 60 years, the National Enquirer became the most infamous tabloid in America, pumping out salacious stories, stretching the limits of journalism blurring the lines between truth and fiction and changing the cultural landscape. Detailing the history of the newspaper through some of the biggest stories of our time – the deaths of Elvis and Princess Diana, the OJ Simpson trial and the Clinton impeachment saga. To satiate their readers’ obsession with the rich and famous, the newspaper poached veteran reporters from the British tabloid scene and allegedly used payoffs and blackmail to get its scoops. The story of how one American tabloid newspaper clear-sighted grasp of its readers’ darkest curiosities garnered massive profits, influence in powerful places and a central role in Trump’s presidency.

Storyville - The Black Panthers (2016)

The first feature length documentary to explore the Black Panther party, its culture and political awakening for black people. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson weaves a treasure or rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there – police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. An essential history, it is a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America.


Day 4 – All 4

Black Mother (2018)

Part film, part baptism, in Black Mother director Khalik Allah brings us on a spiritual exploration through Jamaica. Soaking up its bustling metropolises and tranquil countryside, Allah introduces us to a succession of vividly rendered souls who call this island home. Their candid testimonies create a polyphonic symphony, set against a visual prayer of indelible portraiture. Immersed into the sacred, the profane, and everything in between, Black Mother channels rebellion and reverence into a deeply personal ode informed by Jamaica’s turbulent history but existing in the urgent present.

The Selfish Giant (2013)

A contemporary fable about 13 year old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighbourhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrap-dealer – the Selfish Giant. They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten – keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favours Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys. Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, becoming more like Kitten. Tensions build leading to a tragic event, which transforms them all.

Daphne (2017)

Daphne’s (Emily Beecham) life is hectic, and she is entrenched in the daily rush of her restaurant job and an active nightlife full of new faces. She is the life of the party, but her acerbic humour hides the fact that deep down Daphne is not happy. She is forced to confront the inevitability of a much needed change in her life after she saves a shopkeeper’s life when he gets stabbed during a failed robbery attempt.

Velvet Goldmine (1998)

1971. Glam Rock explodes onto the world scene in a blaze of glitter and guitars. At its centre, the flamboyant Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Together with the outrageous American rocker Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) they challenge conformity and take on the world. 1974. Suddenly at the height of his career, Slade decides to fake his own death on stage. 1984. It’s the tenth anniversary of Slade’s disappearance and journalist Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) is sent out to expose the truth behind the myth.

Day 5 – MUBI

The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)

Herzog’s unclassifiable, found-footage “science fiction fantasy” uses NASA materials and underwater photography to examine life on an unliveable planet. Featuring the inspired casting of cult star Brad Dourif, this fascinating space oddity brilliantly gets at the heart of our relationship to Earth.

Wheel Of Time (2003)

Infused with Herzog’s distinctive and infectious enchantment at the world, Wheel of Time explores a unique practice: the largest Buddhist ritual for peace. Always chasing the “ecstatic truth,” the German master’s playful, pensive documentary reverberates with the liberating impermanence of life.

Girlhood (2014)

One of the best coming-of-age films of our times, Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood follows a journey of self-discovery through the power of female friendship. By focusing on the lives of young Black women in Paris’ banlieue, Sciamma provides a kind of on-screen representation still too absent in cinema.

Transit (2018)

Christian Petzold (Barbara) boldly transforms Anna Seghers’ WW2 novel into a haunting period film set in an ambiguous present. A stirring melodrama of love during oppression, Transit is every bit as scintillating as Casablanca, thanks in part to the outstanding duo of Franz Rogowski and Paula Beer.

Day 6 – Netflix

O’Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

The Coen Brothers own unique take on Homer's Odyssey sets the action in 1930s Mississippi, where three clueless convicts escape a chain gang and go in search of buried treasure. This leads to a series of unlikely adventures - involving one-eyed con-men, seductive sirens and Ku Klux Klan lynchings - which culminate with the boys inadvertently discovering fame as hit recording artists The Soggy Bottom Boys. Starring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as the hapless heroes, and featuring a soundtrack jam-packed with American folk standards, 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' takes its title from the film-within-a-film in Preston Sturges' 1941 classic 'Sullivan's Travels'.

True Grit (2010)

A 14-year-old girl (Hailee Steinfeld) joins an aging U.S. marshal (Jeff Bridges) and another lawman (Matt Damon) in tracking her father's killer into hostile Indian territory in Joel and Ethan Coen's adaptation of Charles Portis' original novel. Sticking more closely to the source material than the 1969 feature adaptation starring Western icon John Wayne, the Coens' True grit tells the story from the young girl's perspective, and re-teams the celebrated filmmaking duo with their No Country For Old Men producing partner Scott Rudin. Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper co-star.

Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Saloon shootouts, vigilante justice, covered wagons on the trail. Saddle up for six Wild West tales, Coen brothers-style. Hilarious, beautifully shot, enjoyable and at times rather disturbing collection of tales with lots for Coen brothers fans to enjoy. With Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly and Brendan Gleeson.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Coen’s Follow up to the Oscar winning Fargo, was this shaggy dog story of the most unusual PI of them all. The Coen brothers' seventh film is a typically bizarre mix of mistaken identity, hippy philosophy and ten-pin bowling. Jeff 'the Dude' Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is a bowling buff, laid-back to the point of horizontal, who gets mixed up in a blackmail plot involving a millionaire namesake. Roped into delivering the ransom to secure the release of the millionaire's kidnapped wife, the Dude's karmic balance is really put in a spin when his gun-toting buddy Walter (John Goodman) decides to help out.

Day 7 – Amazon Prime

Ready Player One (2018)

In the wake of the announcement to the sequel novel being published later this year, perhaps unsurprisingly called Ready Player Two, here is Spielberg’s big screen adaptation. The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

The Vast Of Night (2020)

In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, a young switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and charismatic radio DJ Everett (Jake Hororwitz) discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever. Highly regarded sci-fi and exclusive to Amazon Prime.

The Shining (1980)

40th Anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s chilling adaptation of the Stephen King shocker. Seeking solitude in order to write a novel, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Eager to get started, Jack disregards warnings that the isolation drove a former caretaker mad, and moves into the massive resort with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). But Danny has a supernatural gift which makes him aware of an evil lurking in the hotel, and sure enough, as winter storms cut the hotel off from civilisation, Jack gradually becomes murderously insane.

Donnie Brasco (1997)

Al Pacino and Johnny Depp head up an all star cast in this brilliant gangland thriller about an undercover FBI agent who befriends an ageing hitman to gain entry to the mob. Mike Newell directs this Oscar nominated film.