Monday 7 September 2015

Home Comforts: The best in TV, VOD, DVD and Blu-ray (Monday September 7 - Sunday September 13)


(View on Demand, DVD and Blu-ray)

French writer/director Céline Sciamma’s film (her third) couldn’t be more different to last year’s similarly-titled Boyhood. Where Richard Linklater’s much-celebrated coming of age tale was all about a typical middle-class American kid and his family, Girlhood is set in and around one of the tough estates on the outskirts of Paris and focuses on the members of a black girl gang. Never mind growing up and going to college, in Sciamma’s story it’s all about surviving. 

Marieme (splendid newcomer Karidja Touré) escapes life’s hardships – no father, no job, insufficient schooling, and a bullying older brother – by hooking up with Lady (Assa Sylla), Adiatou (Lindsay Karamoh) and Fily (Mariétou Touré). They rechristen her Vic (for Victory) and together the four bond over trips into the city, shoplifting clothes, punch-ups, and, in one of the film’s finest moments, miming along to Rihanna’s sublime DiamondsOf course, membership of the gang only offers temporary respite from Marieme’s troubles, a situation that comes to a head when she is physically attacked by her brother for sleeping with a boy then flees the estate to commence a short-lived life of crime. 

Sciamma – a white woman – has been criticised in some quarters for portraying black characters and their lives negatively but this is as much about the limited choices and pressures faced by young women as it is a film attempting to chronicle the black or immigrant experience in France. Besides, at no point does Girlhood seek to denigrate its main characters or their choices. In fact, Marieme is an empowering, inspiring creation; a strong, determined and resourceful young woman who simply refuses to buckle under the weight of a difficult life. Eventually, you know, she’ll be just fine.

Rating: W

DVD and Blu-ray highlights...
Dog Day Afternoon - 40th Anniversary Edition (DVD/Blu-ray) Al Pacino in one of his best performances as a would-be bank robber with a rather unusual reason for planning a heist. Trailer below

Exit Through The Gift Shop (DVD) An amusing/infuriating bit of faux-documentary mischief from street artist/provocateur Banksy. 
Fellini's Casanova - Restored Edition (Blu-ray) Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita, 8½
directs Donald Sutherland (Don't Look Now, M*A*S*H*) in one of the Italian maestro's darkest films.
The Lady Killers - 60th Anniversary Edition (DVD/Blu-ray) Alec Guinness stars in the classic Ealing comedy about a gang of bank robbers trying to silence the eccentric old women who has rumbled their crime.
Rosewater (DVD/Blu-ray) US satirist Jon Stewart directs the real-life story of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari's brutal incarceration by the Iranian authorities after his appearance on The Daily Show.

View on Demand/Streaming highlights...
(available now unless otherwise stated)
Buttercup Bill (Various Streaming Services) US indie psycho-drama about two damaged 'soul mates' reuniting after the suicide of a school friend.
Les Diaboliques (MUBI)  From 1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s twist-packed revenge thriller still packs one heck of a punch. Trailer below

Toy Story (Netflix/Amazon Prime/NOW TV, from Friday) Woody, Buzz and the gang make their debut in Pixar's still delightful comedy.
The Tribe (various streaming services) Critically-lauded Ukrainian film about the transgressive goings-on at a deaf school. There's little dialogue - the actors deliver their 'lines' using sign language - but somehow it works.
Unfriended (various streaming services) Clever horror about a supernatural force attacking a group of friends over the Internet. Skype will never be the same again...

Terrestrial highlights...
2 Fast 2 Furious (22:40, Friday, ITV) John Singleton (Boyz n The Hood) directs Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson and Eva Mendes in the high-octane sequel to The Fast and The FuriousF&F movies must always be described as 'high-octane' - it's the law.
Back To The Future (16:45, Saturday, ITV) Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) travels 30 years into the past and meets his mum... who has the hots for him. '80s movies were weird, weren't they?
United 93 (22:30, Saturday, ITV) Harrowing Paul Greengrass-directed 9/11 drama focusing on the hijacking of United Airlines flight 93 out of Newark by members of Al Qaeda. An astonishing film about bravery and sacrifice. Trailer below

Chronicle (23:10, Saturday, Channel 4) It hasn't been a good year for writer Max Landis (box-office flop American Ultra) or director Josh Trank (box-office flop Fantastic Four) but this found-footage superhero movie is a welcome reminder of what they are capable of.
The Place Beyond The Pines (23:40, Sunday, Channel 4) Ryan Gosling is the bank robber trying to provide for his girlfriend and newborn baby, Bradley Cooper the ambitious rookie cop with whom he's on a collision course. A decent, if unspectacular, drama. 

Cable and Satellite highlights...
Get On Up (22:05, tonight, Sky Movies Premiere) Biopic of James Brown - soul legend, spectacular live performer, wife beater. Chadwick Boseman stars.
Trance (21:00, tonight, Film4) Bonkers Danny Boyle heist thriller featuring James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson's shaved lady parts.
The Angel's Share (21:00, Tuesday, Film4) Bittersweet Glasgow-set comedy from Ken Loach about three down-on-their-luck friends plotting to steal the world's rarest whiskey. Trailer below

The Aviator (22:45, Friday, TCM) Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Howard Hughes in an underrated biopic from Martin Scorsese.
Edward Scissorhands (17:30, Sunday, E4) This visually stunning gothic fairytale marked the first collaboration between director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp. Their second - Ed Wood - is arguably even better.  


WWWW = Wonderful
WWW = Worthy
WW = Watchable
W = Woeful

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