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Monday, 28 March 2016

Ran reissued, plus Bridge Of Spies: Your Week In Film (March 28-April 3)

Akira Kurosawa's Ran gets a limited reissue in cinemas this week

TV, Radio, DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and cinema picks for the next seven days...

First, an apology: Last week I announced that comedy horror movie Krampus was making its Netflix UK debut on Tuesday, March 22. Unfortunately, it didn't appear so apologies to anyone who has been looking for it. I suspect it will pop up unannounced at some point this week but don't quote me on that...

Monday 28th: Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller Bridge Of Spies (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD) is a perfectly likeable advertisement for liberal decency (and god knows we could do with one of those right now), with Tom Hanks all effortless charm and unflappable resolve. Hanks plays James B Donovan, an insurance lawyer pressed into defending a captured Russian spy (Oscar winner Mark Rylance) and then travelling to communist Berlin in a bid to exchange the man for a downed airman and incarcerated student. Based on a true story, it's good solid fare but, in truth, lacks a sense of real jeopardy and both Spielberg and Hanks have done much better work. Somewhat less optimistic is The Lesson (DVD and VOD), a three-quarters perfect Bulgarian film about a moralistic teacher (Margita Gosheva) forced to take extreme measures when she's unable to repay her debt to a loan shark. The final 10 minutes stretch credulity to breaking point but I suspect that was always the intention of directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov. The End Of The Tour (VOD) chronicles the five-day interview conducted by Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and acclaimed but troubled Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). Like James White and Queen Of Earth, it's a successful and well-liked US drama that has been buried or ignored in the UK. Elsewhere, The LEGO Movie hits Amazon Prime Video, MUBI have Spielberg's take on War Of The Worlds, starring Tom Cruise, and superhero brouhaha Avengers Assemble (20:30, BBC1) is on telly... again.

Tom Hanks in Cold War thriller Bridge Of Spies (trailer)

Tuesday 29th: There's some good stuff on today but you have to look for it. Tippi Hedren finds herself up before the beak in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (23:50, Film4), Al Pacino is coke-snorting, gun-toting Florida drug lord Tony Montana in Scarface (22:30, Sky Movies Greats), and Edward Woodward is the Christian copper way out of his depth when he investigates the disappearance of a young girl on a remote Scottish island in The Wicker Man (23:20, ITV4).

Wednesday 30th: Brian De Palma's Snake Eyes (23:45, BBC1) is famous for two things: the 13-minute tracking shot which opens the film (it's made to look like a single take but it isn't), and Nicolas Cage's suitably deranged performance as a cop who wades into a wider conspiracy when he investigates a shooting at a boxing match. 


Tippi Hedren gets in a flap in The Birds (trailer)

Thursday 31st: The sublime 45 Years debuts on Netflix UK today. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay star as a married couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary when a revelation about Courtenay's long-dead old flame derails their plans and threatens their relationship. It's a quite superb piece of work. Also debuting on Netflix UK are 
The Legend of Barney Thomson (an odd but likeable black comedy starring and directed by Robert Carlyle), The Gift (an effective but ultimately frustrating thriller from Joel Edgerton) and the Simon Pegg comedy Absolutely Anything, which also stars the Monty Python team. With Sunset Song hitting DVD and Blu-ray next week, Antonia Quirke talks to director Terence Davies on The Film Programme (16:00, BBC Radio 4).

The past rears its ugly head in 45 Years (trailer)

Friday April 1st: Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) stars as British Olympic ski jumper Eddie Edwards in Eddie The Eagle, which officially hits multiplexes today after previewing earlier in the week. Hugh Jackman - of all people - plays Eddie's trainer in what looks like a promising comedy. Also in cinemas and more up my street is VictoriaSebastian Schipper's beautifully-shot, one-take drama about a young Madrid woman who becomes embroiled in a bank robbery after she is befriended by three men on a visit to Berlin. The film is also being screened by on-demand service Curzon Home Cinema. Getting a limited reissue is Ran, Akira Kurosawa's epic and extraordinary take on King Lear. This is a brand new 4K digital restoration of the 1985 film and I would sacrifice a second cousin to Cthulhu for the chance to see it on the big screen. Meanwhile, Netflix UK welcomes Die Hard, still one of the finest action films ever made, and Ben Bailey Smith and Robbie Collin sit in for the regular hosts on Kermode and Mayo's Film Review (14:00, BBC Radio 5 Live).

Victoria: in cinemas and on demand from Friday (trailer)

Ran is Kurosawa's epic take on King Lear (trailer)

Saturday 2nd: A couple of golden oldies are easily the best movies on today. Harvey (11:25, Gold) is the much-loved whimsical 1950 comedy starring James Stewart as Elwood P Dowd, an alcoholic (or 'tippler' as the Radio Times euphemistically has it) with an invisible six-foot rabbit for a best friend. And Fred Astaire and Judy Garland star in Charles Walters' classic 1948 musical Easter Parade (14:20, BBC2). Altogether now: "We're a couple of swells, Stop at the best hotels..." 

James Stewart is definitely not an alcoholic in Harvey (trailer)

Sunday 3rd: 
Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief (21:00, Sky Atlantic) is Alex Gibney's enthralling and forensic take down of the L Ron Hubbard-founded religion cult. It's a real eye-opener from which Tom Cruise ("the nicest man in the world", according to TV's Graham Norton) does not emerge well. Scarily, the Hollywood superstar seems totally rational compared to David Miscavige, the organisation's leader who is variously accused of "intimidating, beating, imprisoning and exploiting subordinates". Nice.

Alex Gibney takes on Scientology in Going Clear (trailer)

The last 5 films I saw 
1. La Haine (1995): Powerful French drama about three young men growing up on a tough Paris estate during a period of urban unrest. Vincent Cassel is quite superb.
2. Autumn Almanac (1984): Hell is other people in Hungarian director Béla Tarr's beautifully shot melodrama about the conniving inhabitants of a claustrophobic apartment.
3. Welcome To Me (2014): Dark comedy featuring a fantastic turn from Kristen Wiig as a bipolar woman who scoops $86million in the lottery and buys her own talk show.
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016): Operatic, bombastic and genuinely gripping, Zack Snyder's superhero blockbuster is far better than the reviews suggest.
5. High-Rise (2015): Ben Wheatley's adaptation of the JG Ballard novel is riotously entertaining but, unlike its source material, loses focus about halfway through.

Powerful French drama La Haine (trailer)

UK box office top 10
1. Kung Fu Panda 3 
2. 10 Cloverfield Lane 
3. London Has Fallen 
4. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
5. The Boy
6. High-Rise R
7. Deadpool R
8. Hail, Caesar! R
9. Grimsby R
10. Kapoor And Sons

R = Recommended

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