Monday 27 June 2016

A Bigger Splash, Ivan's Childhood and Queen Of Earth: Your Week In Film (June 27-July3)

Rock 'n' roller: Tilda Swinton is a famous pop star in A Bigger Splash 

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

Monday 27th: A Bigger Splash (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD) is a relationship drama-cum-thriller which sees rock star Tilda Swinton recovering on the Italian coast from a throat operation. But her sun-kissed idyll, in the company of lover Matthias Schoenaerts, is gatecrashed by boorish old flame Ralph Fiennes, who turns up unannounced with his daughter, Dakota Johnson. Proceedings start off amicably enough but it isn't long before jealousies and tensions start to raise their ugly heads, leading to friction, infidelity and disaster. It doesn't entirely work but is elevated by the performances (especially Fiennes') and its gratifyingly caustic take on the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Ruth Negga, who plays Tulip in AMC's adaptation of the Preacher comic-book, is the best thing about Iona (DVD and VOD), a nicely shot but ever-so-slightly dull melodrama set on the titular island. I'm puzzled why Scott Graham's film hasn't been given a Blu-ray release as it is a real feast for the eyes. If you're after quality drama and aren't enthused by my first couple of choices, your best bet this week is almost certainly Ivan's Childhood (DVD and VOD). Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky's 1962 debut feature is set during the Second World War and tells the story of a 12-year-old orphan, the titular Ivan, who works as a Soviet army spy behind German lines. His heroism and bravery are respected by the three Soviet officers who keep an eye on him but they are desperate to get the boy away from the front line and into school. However, Ivan, whose mother and sister were both killed by the Nazis, is having none of it. A beautiful, harrowing and human film. MUBI have today added likeable amusement park comedy Adventureland to their catalogue. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart star. 

About a boy: Ivan's Childhood is beautiful and harrowing

Tuesday 28th: Zack Snyder's Dawn Of The Dead (00:20, ITV4) remake is worth seeing for the first 20 minutes alone, which are a real punch to the guts and remain the highlight of the director's somewhat chequered career. It goes quickly downhill after that and isn't a patch on George Romero's original though. On even later is notorious 
'80s thriller Fatal Attraction (00:55, Film4) starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas. In truth, the story behind its changed ending is more interesting than Adrian Lyne's overwrought film itself.

The Walking Dud: Snyder's Dawn Of The Dead remake

Wednesday 29th: There's a sequel out next Monday so here's a good chance to get up to speed with enjoyable crime caper Now You See Me (21:00, Film4) if you haven't already. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco are the Four Horseman, a team of stage illusionists, who pull off a bank robbery during the climax to one of their shows. Mark Ruffalo is the FBI agent trying to bring them in. Elsewhere today, there's underwater sci-fi in James Cameron's The Abyss (21:00, Syfy) and Al Pacino and Johnny Depp star in Brian De Palma's excellent gangster epic Donnie Brasco (23:10, Moviemix).

And that's magic: Now You See Me has sequel on way

Thursday 30thThe Diary Of A Teenage Girl (Netflix UK) is one of the best coming-of-age movies I've seen in a long time and contains a fantastic central performance from young Bel Powley that, if there were any justice in the world, would have landed her an Oscar nomination. Set in '70s San Francisco, it sees Powley lose her virginity to and begin an affair with Alexander Skarsgård, who just happens to be her mother's boyfriend. In The Film Programme (16:00, BBC Radio 4), presenter Francine Stock talks to James Spinney and Peter Middleton, the makers of a ground-breaking documentary, Notes On Blindness, that also has a version in Virtual Reality.

Youth: Bel Powley stars in The Diary Of A Teenage Girl

Friday July 1st: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie hits cinemas today - probably about 20 years too late, if I'm honest. Still the trailer has its moments as Jennifer Saunders' Edina accidentally bumps off Kate Moss and she and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) flee to the French Riviera. The parade of celebrity cameos includes Jon Hamm, Gwendolen Christie and Rebel Wilson. In stark contrast is Alex Ross Perry's dark drama Queen Of Earth, which gets a limited cinema release from today but is out on Blu-ray on July 11th. Brought low by tragedy, Catherine (Elizabeth Moss) goes to stay with her old childhood friend Virginia (Katherine Waterston) at her remote lakeside house. But the two quickly realise they have drifted apart over the years as the tensions between them start to bubble up. Both leads are fantastic in a downbeat story about fragility - both of friendship and the human heart. Is it really too much to ask that Kermode And Mayo's Film Review (12:00, BBC Radio Five Live) be given a regular day and time, rather than constantly moving it around to accommodate sport of one variety or another? Last week it was broadcast on a Thursday, this week it starts at noon and is only on for an hour. There's always the podcast, I suppose, which is mercifully free of interruptions from the football, tennis, cricket or pro-celebrity balloon popping. Jesse Eisenberg is the guest this week, talking about the aforementioned Now You See Me 2.

Royal rumble: Shattered bonds in Queen Of Earth 

Saturday 2nd: I've written about Ridley Scott's The Counsellor (23:15, Film4) on here before so won't go over it all again. Suffice to say, it's a barking-mad film that is uneven, ridiculous and utterly infuriating, yet one I retain a sizeable soft spot for. That scene at the beginning with Penélope Cruz and Michael Fassbender having sex makes me cringe just thinking about it. Far more sensible is Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (01:30, Film4) which, 56 years on from its release, remains pretty much perfect. It seems thoroughly bizarre the director had such a fight to bring his adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel of the same name to the screen.
Sunday 3rd: Clueless (13:20, Channel 4) is Amy Heckerling's clever and funny adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. Alicia Silverstone's high school queen creates a monster when she takes an unpopular girl (
Brittany Murphy) under her wing. Expect a few edits for language.

Austen power: Clueless adapts the novel Emma 

UK box-office top 10
1. Me Before You 
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows 
3. Alice Through The Looking Glass
4. Warcraft: The Beginning R
5. X-Men: Apocalypse R
6. The Nice Guys R
7. The Boss
8. Angry Birds 
9. Mother's Day 
10. The Jungle Book R

All information correct at time of publication


  1. Tsk, the late Brittany Murphy was Silverstone's protege in Clueless; Dash was the best friend. Turn in your 90's teen movie credentials!

  2. That's what happens when you try to write about a film you haven't seen in a decade on a hangover and five hours sleep! Thanks for pointing it out - I've now corrected it.