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7-Day Cinema Diet #23

7-Day Cinema Diet #23

Adam Marsh
QUAD Cinema Programmer

Drum and Bass, Steve McQueen (the actor one) and a weepy that brought Ryan Gosling into the hearts of millions. Yes another week browsing for films in the digital landscape. Here we pull from BBC iPlayer, the free section of the BFI Player, Amazon Prime, Netflix and All4. Enjoy! Not long now until QUAD opens its doors once again…

Day 1 – BBC iPlayer

Dirt Road To Lafayette (2016)

Fifteen year old Murdo and his father, Tom, journey from Scotland to north Alabama to visit their America/Scots relatives after the death of his mother. Murdo is an accordion player but has not played since his mother passed. When he meets fellow accordionist Queen Monzee-ay she rekindles his interest in music and invites him to play a gig with her. The music becomes a wedge which drives itself between him and his father.

The Levelling (2014)

Clover returns home to the family farm in Somerset to help her father after the death of her brother Harry. She finds the place still devastated two years after a flooding, with the insurers not paying out and her father being forced to sell off their assets. Having been away for so long, Clover wants to rebuild her relationship with her difficult father and help sort out the family business, but with Harry’s death shrouded in so much confusion and secrecy, they both find it difficult to move on.

Lady Bird (2017)

High school senior Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) expects much from life, but the strained relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and failing family finances keep clipping her wings, while early romance leads to heartache. Golden Globe-winning comic drama from Greta Gerwig.

Gravity (2013)

A US space mission is destroyed when it is hit by flying debris. Seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and brilliant medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) end up alone and drifting in space, tethered to nothing but each other.

Day 2 – Netflix

John Was Trying To Contact Aliens (2020)

A rural electronics whiz broadcasts radio signals into space and monitors for signs of aliens, but make a more important connection here on Earth. Great feel good doc.

United Nation: Three Decades of Drum&Bass (2020)

United Nation: Three Decades of Drum & Bass is a shocking and entertaining exposé of the origins of the electronic dance music scene. Terry “Turbo” Stone was a working-class kid brought up on a council estate who, in his teens, saw opportunities in this budding scene. Against the odds, he founded “One Nation” and became one of the world’s most significant club promoters of the era.

The 100 year old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared (2013)

Swedish adventure comedy based on Jonas Jonasson's bestselling novel. Despite having reached his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) still has a sharp mind. Keen to avoid the party that his retirement home have organised for him, Allan climbs out of his bedroom window and begins an escapade featuring criminals and a stash of drug money. Allan, however, is not new to adventure - during his lifetime he was involved with many significant events which changed the course of history and became associated with world leaders and other notable figures along the way.

By The Grace Of God (2018)

This film follows three men who band together to dismantle the code of silence that continues to protect a priest who abused them decades ago. Based on events from the conviction of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon for concealing the conduct of Father Bernard Preynat, ths Francois Ozon directed film compassionately illustrates the varying effects of trauma on survivors and their families in this urgent portrait of resistance, the power of mobilisation, and the mysteries of faith.


Day 3 – BFI Player – Free Section

Happy Family (1952)

1951's Festival of Britain was considered a morale booster for a post-war, austerity-weary nation - but not so for one aggrieved London family. Ordered to vacate their shop and home on the South Bank to make way for the Festival, the Lord family stands their ground in a siege against the system. Superb performances from a top cast (especially Kathleen Harrison) enrich this cheerful comedy.

Britannia Of Billingsgate (1933)

A star is born (or at least found) in a fish and chip shop, in this effervescent musical comedy that jaunts between the cloth caps of Billingsgate Fish Market and the top hats and heady glamour of the film world. Things have never looked so good for Billingsgate chippy owner Bessie Bolton (Violet Loraine) after she is presented with the opportunity of becoming the singing sensation of the silver screen - Shepherd's Bush style. Violet Loraine had been a music hall star since the early 1900s, but was here returning to showbiz after a break of more than a decade. The film also features an early role for John Mills. The studio where Bessie gets her big break is the Shepherd's Bush Studios belonging to the production company, the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. The cinema where Bessie's film is premiered is the Gaumont Palace in Hammersmith - now the concert venue the Hammersmith Apollo.

Green Grow The Rushes (1951)

This Ealing-esque comedy focuses on a small Kent village where the community is supported by brandy smuggling. When visitors from Whitehall come with proposals for redevelopment, the smugglers resolve to resist. A pre-fame Richard Burton stars alongside Honor Blackman and Roger Livesey. Adapted from a novel by Howard Clewes (who co-wrote the screenplay), Green Grow the Rushes owes an obvious debt to the hit Ealing comedy Whisky Galore (1949). This was the first feature made by ACT Films, the production company formed by the cinema technicians’ union. As if there was any doubt about its influences, Green Grow the Rushes was retitled Brandy Ashore on its re-release in 1954.

Kate Plus Ten (1938)

Laughs and thrills are dealt out in equal measure in this lively Edgar Wallace comedy-thriller, which has a terrific car versus train chase as its hair-raising climax. A Scotland Yard inspector, deftly played by Jack Hulbert (who co-wrote the film), uncovers a dastardly plot by a notorious gang of crooks - unusually led by a woman (Genevieve Tobin) - to rob a train of its gold bullion cargo. A fair head of steam builds up as our hero attempts to save the woman as well as save the day. The railway scenes were filmed on the Bath-Westbury and Limpley Stoke-Camerton lines in Wiltshire.


Day 4 – Mix Of Platforms

Le Mans (1971) – BBC iPlayer

A classic auto-racing movie starring Steve McQueen, Le Mans puts the audience in the driver's seat for what is often called the most gruelling race in the world. McQueen plays the American driver, locked in an intense grudge match with his German counterpart during the 24-hour race through the French countryside even as he wrestles with the guilt over causing an accident that cost the life of a close friend. McQueen is his usual stoic magnetic self, and the racing sequences are among the best ever committed to film. A solid character-driven story combines with raw visceral power to make Le Mans a rich tapestry of action and thrills.

Stratton (2017) – ALL4

When a high-stakes M16 mission to intercept deadly biochemical weapons goes spectacularly wrong, special operative Stratton (Dominic Cooper) must face the threat of a former Soviet operative who resurfaces after being presumed dead for two decades. It is believed that the rogue operative plans to take revenge on his former paymasters with stolen chemical weapons, and Stratton and his agents must race against time to stop the unimaginable from happening. With Derek Jacobi, Connie Neilsen and Tom Felton.

Una (2017) – ALL4

Based on David Harrower’s celebrated, Olivier Award-winning play Blackbird, Benedict Andrews’ film stars the Oscar-nominated Rooney Mara (Carol) and Emmy-nominated Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, Starred Up), following a young woman’s journey to reclaim her past. Fifteen years earlier, teenage Una (Mara) ran away with an older man, Ray (Mendelsohn), a crime for which he was arrested and imprisoned. When she comes across a photo of him in a trade magazine, Una tracks him down to his workplace, and her abrupt arrival threatens to destroy Ray’s new life, while derailing her precarious stability. Unspoken secrets and buried memories surface as Una and Ray sift through the wreckage of the past, confronting unanswered questions and unresolved longings; ultimately shaking them both to the core.

The Notebook (2005) – BBC iPlayer

Sweeping romance directed by Nick Cassavetes, set in a small coastal town in the American South - partly in the 1940s, and partly in the present day. An elderly man (James Garner) reads from a faded notebook to an old woman (Gena Rowlands) whom he regularly visits at her nursing home. As he reads, a passionate love story unfolds about a young couple - Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton (played in flashback scenes by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) - whose fledgling love affair was abruptly ended by circumstances and the sudden outbreak of World War 2. But although fate drives the young couple apart, they continue to be haunted by memories of their affair, and when Noah returns from the war seven years later, he realises that he cannot forget the promises they made to one other - despite the fact that Allie is engaged to be married to another man.


Day 5 – BFI Player – Free Section

Escape From Broadmoor (1948)

A murderer escapes from Broadmoor only to be tempted back to the scene of his crime. Attempting to steal from the rich gentleman who testified against him, he is disturbed by a maid - but hasn't he seen her before? A cast of familiar British faces star in this short B-Movie, the first part of an intended series of 'psychic mysteries'. Look out for Dad's Army's John Le Mesurier, playing against his usual suave type, as a hard-nosed criminal.

The Perfect Woman (1949)

That age-old male fantasy of the ultimate remote-control woman gets a high-tech satirical twist in this screwball-style, battle-of-the-sexes comedy. Roger Cavendish gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to act as escort for the 'perfect' robot woman. The riotous climactic scene in a bridal suite is a delight, and glamorous star Patricia Roc has a ball running rings around the hapless men.

Miranda (1948)

This comic fantasy, based on a stage play, imagines what would happen if a mermaid turned up in London society. Played with sparkling humour by Glynis Johns, Miranda charms every man she meets with her frank appreciation of their looks, devoid of the cynicism of modern women. Comedy ensues when her rescuer, a Harley Street doctor, attempts to conceal her true nature, while Margaret Rutherford gives an amusing turn as an eccentric nurse.

The Tunnel (1936)

Long before the Channel tunnel, this entertaining slice of speculative fiction imagines a seemingly impossible engineering feat: a transatlantic tunnel linking Britain and America. Unsurprisingly, the project is beset with problems, both natural and man-made. If a scheming arms manufacturer isn't impeding progress then an inconveniently located undersea volcano is. Will our heroes prevail?

This was the fourth screen adaptation of Bernhard Kellermann's novel (first published in Germany in 1913), following a German-made silent version in 1915 and simultaneous German and French language versions in 1933


Day 6 – Mubi – Pere Portabella

Vampir (1971)

A film shot behind another! Everything is turned inside out behind the scenes of Jesus Franco’s 1972 mainstream horror film starring Christopher Lee, Count Dracula, as Spanish Pere Portabella turns on-set footage into an abbreviated, self-reflexive and surrealist version of the Count’s story. Portabella – master of the avant-garde, politician, and all-round renaissance man, made this mysterious film; which follows Christopher Lee. Shot on the fly in between scenes in the crevices of another films shoot, Vampir is an evocative investigation into narrative, myth, and Spanish cinema.

El Sopar (1974)

Five ex-political prisoners meet secretly in a country house one afternoon in 1974, the same day that Salvador Puig Antich is executed, to talk about their experiences in prison. Pere Portabella’s El Sopar attests to his political involvement around the time of Spain’s transition to democracy, as he invited ex-political prisoners to meet and speak about detention. Made clandestinely and in the strictest secrecy, it was an act of transgression to Franco’s repressive regime.

General Report (1977)

Shot in the months after the death of Franco, Informe general is a ‘documentary’ shot with the techniques of a fiction film – exploring the limits of film representations. The speakers are concerned with one question: How do you go from a dictatorship to a democracy? The lucid, radical work of Pere Portabella creates an invaluable space for rethinking reality, fiction and the political dimension of both. With this monumental landmark of activist cinema, the filmmaker dissects a crucial moment in Spanish history: its transition from dictatorship to democracy.

General Report II: The New Abduction Of Europe (2016)

Today in Spain, neoliberalist capitalism has laid waste to the middle class, unemployment is skyrocketing, the Left is a factious mess that the Right plays with ease, trust in democracy is at a new low. Is it necessary to look for other forms of participatory processes? If the first General Report was a rumination on the transition from an opporessive regime to a democratic state, in this implacable, necessary sequal Portabella dissects – 40 years later – the brutal crisis devouring Europe today. These are turbulent times for Spain, and this film is essential viewing.


Day 7 – Amazon Prime

Get Duked! (2020)

Set deep in the Scottish Highlands, Get Duked! (formally titled Boyz In The Wood) is an anarchic satire of generational politics, hip-hop loving farmers and hallucinogenic rabbit poo that puts the youth of tomorrow against the status quo of yesterday. With Alice Lowe and Eddie Izzard.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

In 1950s Los Angeles, Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), Bud White (Russell Crowe) and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) are three very different cops: Ed is ambitious and incorruptible, Bud takes pleasure in beating up wrong-doers, and Jack works as technical advisor to the television show 'Badge of Honour'. Ed earns the enmity of Bud and Jack when he testifies that they were involved in the beating of a group of Mexicans in police custody, but all three men become involved after a mass-murder takes place at the Nite Owl cafe. Initially, it seems that a group of drug addicts are responsible, but further investigation leads to evidence of blackmail, prostitution and a police cover-up. Kim Basinger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

In Seventies America, Bob (Matt Dillon) and his wife Dianne (Kelly Lynch) travel from state to state, ripping off pharmacies to fuel their drug addiction. Gaining a certain amount of notoriety and respect for his streetwise bravado, Bob is forced to reassess his life when gang member Nadine (Heather Graham) dies of an overdose. He attempts to kick the habit and go legit but is hindered by his own lack of willpower and his wife's reluctance to give up life in the fast lane. Directed by Gus van Sant, it also features an appearance by author William Burroughs as a junkie priest.

A Man Called Ove (2015)

Meet Ove (Rolf lassgård), an isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse - the quintessential angry old man next door. Having entirely given up on life, his days are spent in a constant monotony of enforcing housing association rules and visiting his beloved wife Sonja’s grave. Ove’s somewhat content existence is disrupted, however, with the arrival of a boisterous young family who move in next door. Heavily pregnant Parvaneh (Bahar Pars) and her lively children are the complete antithesis of what ill-tempered Ove thinks he needs. Yet, from this unhappy beginning an unlikely friendship blooms and Ove’s past happiness and heartbreaks come to light. Based on the international bestselling novel by Fredrik Backman, the award-winning A Man Called Ove is a wistful, heart-warming tale of unreliable first impressions and a wonderful reminder that life is sweeter when it’s shared.