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Monday, 11 April 2016

Chronic, Barry Lyndon and Couple In A Hole: Your Week In Film (April 11-17)

The Jungle Book opens in cinemas from Friday

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

Monday 11th:
 Chronic (DVD and VOD) sees Tim Roth consign the likes of United Passions and Grace Of Monaco to the dustbin of history as he turns in his finest performance for many years. In Michel Franco's powerful but off-kilter character study, the Reservoir Dogs actor plays a palliative care nurse working with patients in Los Angeles. He's an odd, and clearly disturbed man, who gets altogether too close to those he looks after, whilst struggling to forge meaningful relationships in his personal life. It's this dislocation that Roth and writer/director Franco are keen to poke about in and they do so very effectively. 
If you are so inclined, I noticed the likes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sisters, Black Mountain Poets and Krampus are all available to buy digitally from today. Being old and out of touch, I much prefer proper hard copies myself and will therefore be certain to check out the Blu-ray delights of horror/comedy sequel Bride of Re-Animator, CIA conspiracy thriller Three Days Of The Condor and cracking Steve Martin comedy Three Amigos. Still not sated? Curzon Home Cinema are showing the excellent Couple In A Hole (see Last 5 Films I Saw, below), the documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut, and Andrei Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood

Tim Roth is back to his best in Chronic

Tuesday 12th: Ryan O'Neal is the titular Barry Lyndon (21:00, TCM) in Stanley Kubrick's slow but rewarding 18th Century-set drama. The extravagant period piece (which won four Oscars) sees O'Neal's young Irish rogue shoot a love rival in a duel before embarking on a series of 'misfortunes and disasters', as he battles his way from nothing to become part of the English aristocracy. Long seen as one of Kubrick's lesser works, it seems to have enjoyed something of a critical renaissance in recent years, possibly helped by the likes of Martin Scorsese heaping praise upon it. And quite right too.

Barry Lyndon is Scorsese's favourite Kubrick film

Wednesday 13th: There's a double bill of Alfred Hitchock thrillers from today on Netflix UK, with James Stewart starring in both films. In Vertigo (voted the best movie of all time by Sight & Sound), he's an acrophobic San Francisco private detective led a merry dance by Kim Novak and all is most certainly not as it seems. In Rear Window, he's a wheelchair-bound photographer who witnesses a murder and, deciding to investigate, puts himself and sweetheart Grace Kelly in mortal danger. Elsewhere, in a very good day for classic films, there's Billy Wilder's WWII prison camp black comedy Stalag 17 (13:35, Film 4) and Michael Powell's controversial and disturbing Peeping Tom (22:50, Horror Channel). 

Vertigo: The greatest movie of all time?

Thursday 14th: Overlong, self-indulgent and shambolic, Magnolia (Amazon Prime Video) is the only one of Paul Thomas Anderson's films I find it hard to get along with. The cast, including Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise and Jason Robards, are all terrific though and, for that reason alone, it's worth several hours of your time. Rather more straightforward is charming undead comedy Zombieland (21:00, Film 4) which contains surely one of the finest cameos in recent movie history. Jon Favreau talks to Francine Stock on The Film Programme (BBC Radio 4, 16:00) about his new film, The Jungle Book (in cinemas Friday).

Magnolia: Shambolic but worth your time (just about)

Friday 15th: After a few weeks away, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo return to the helm of Kermode and Mayo's Film Review (BBC Radio 5 Live, 14:00). Jon Favreau turns up to plug The Jungle Book again. Cinema bids a fond farewell to Alan Rickman as the late actor's final film - Eye In The Sky - hits your local multiplex today. A sophisticated thriller that takes a long, hard look at the morality of modern warfare, it stars Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul. If you're after something a little more 'arthouse', there's 
The Brand New Testament, the tagline to which is surely the best of this or any week: 'Did you know that God is alive and lives in Brussels with his daughter?' I didn't but I certainly do now...

The Brand New Testament: May contain traces of gorilla

Saturday 16th: Kirk Douglas is Vincent van Gogh in  Lust For Life (13:00, BBC2), Vincente Minnelli's beautiful and moving biopic of the painter. In couldn't-be-starker contrast, Film 4 boasts a vampire double bill of the original Fright Night (22:55) and Werner Herzog's Nosferatu The Vampyre (01:05). Both are a blast.

Sunday 17th: Swashbuckling thrills and spills aplenty await you in the endlessly entertaining The Princess Bride (13:15, Channel 5), while Bend It Like Beckham (15:15) is a pure 'Rachel Of The Rovers' tale about a girls' football team. Oh, and a channel I've never heard of - True Entertainment - is showing Woody Allen's sublime Bullets Over Broadway (21:00). John Cusack stars as a Broadway playwright forced to cast a gangster's moll in the lead role of his play, but Chaz Palminteri steals the show as the hood with the soul of a poet.

Kirk Douglas is Vincent Van Gogh in Lust For Life

The Last 5 films I Saw
1. Couple In A Hole (2015): Tom Geens' bravura drama about the terrible impact of grief on a husband and wife. Paul Higgins (The Thick Of It) and Kate Dickie (The Witch) are both superb. It's in cinemas and available on demand (Curzon Home Cinema, Amazon Prime Video and BFI Player). If you only see one film this week etc...
2. Jane B. for Agnes V. (1988): French new wave director Agnes Varda's illuminating and thoroughly entertaining portrait of actor/singer/muse Jane Birkin.
3. Grandma (2015): Irascible septuagenarian Lily Tomlin scraps and bullies to raise enough cash to fund her grand-daughter's abortion. A brave, likable film, even though the 'tough old boot with a heart of gold' trope has been done to death at this point.
4. Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD (2014): Enjoyable warts 'n' all documentary about the long-running British weekly sci-fi comic. Gets a bit gushy towards the end though.
5. Nasty Baby (2015): 'Mumblecore' drama about a gay Brooklyn couple trying to conceive a child with their friend/surrogate (Kristen Wiig). An odd mix of intriguing and irritating.

Couple In A Hole: Just see it (you'll thank me, honestly)

UK box office top 10
1. Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice R
2. Eddie The Eagle
3. Zootropolis R
4. Kung Fu Panda 3
5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
7. London Has Fallen
8. The Boy
9. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
10. High-Rise R

R = Recommended

All information correct at time of publication

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