Monday 18 April 2016

The Criterion Collection hits the UK: Your Week In Film (April 18-24)

Tootsie is part of the Criterion Collection - finally available in the UK

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

Monday 18th:
Any spare cash I have in the coming weeks will be heading in the direction of the Criterion Collection. Established in the US for 30-odd years and boasting some 800 titles, Criterion has finally made it over the pond to the UK and its first six Blu-ray releases include Roman Polanski's Macbeth, Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning turn in Tootsie, Harold Lloyd silent movie Speedy, Cary Grant in Only Angels Have Wings, Clark Gable in It Happened One Night, and Grey Gardens, a groundbreaking documentary about the 'rich and useless'. For years, UK cinephiles have had to import the region-locked discs and splash out on expensive region-free machines on which to watch them. But no more. Hallelujah, it's a new day! In the States, Criterion is a byword for quality and that is reflected in everything from the packaging of the discs to the content - original sleeve artwork, perfect transfers, lots of extras. It will be interesting to see how the new venture does against the likes of Arrow and Eureka, who provide a similar high-end product and are long-established in the UK. It's a battle that can only be good news for British movie lovers.

Cary Grant stars in Only Angels Have Wings

Tuesday 19th: 
A Welshman sits alone in a car for 90 minutes jabbering increasingly frantically into a mobile phone as his world implodes around him. It's hardly an elevator pitch up there with Alien’s ‘Jaws in space’, is it? Still, what Locke (21:00, Film4) lacks in spectacle and action, it more than makes up for in Tom Hardy’s assured, sympathetic performance. Utterly gripping. Elsewhere at the same time, there's Edgar Wright's amusing Hot Fuzz (21:00, ITV4) and Michael Haneke's unsettling Hidden (21:00, Sky Arts). Mubi are showing Laurence Olivier's bravura turn as Hamlet from today (Henry V, which not only starred but was also directed by Olivier, was added yesterday).

Tom Hardy is utterly gripping in Locke 

Wednesday 20th: Buddy cop movies were all the rage in 1987, unfortunately Stakeout (02:05, Channel 4) had the misfortune to drop a few months after Lethal Weapon which soon became the genre's sine qua non. Although it did similar box office business to the Mel Gibson/Danny Glover classic, John Badham's film was always going to seem a little bit undercooked by comparison. That doesn't mean it isn't a lot of fun, though. Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez are two heavily-moustached Seattle cops sent to keep an eye on Madeleine Stowe, the girlfriend of an escaped prisoner. Dreyfuss falls for her making a complicated, dangerous situation even more so...

Dreyfuss and Estevez are buddy cops in Stakeout

Thursday 21st: 
In this week's The Film Programme (16:00, BBC Radio 4), Francine Stock tries out 'Blind Cinema'. As you enter the movie theatre you are blindfolded by a group of schoolchildren, who then provide a whispered description of the action on-screen via ear-trumpets. I'm guessing a showing of Pasolini's Salo isn't on the agenda ("Now he's making them eat bowls of shit! Bleurgh!"). Your best bet film-wise today is Lawless (23:05, Film4), a Prohibition-era western which sees three bootlegging brothers (Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf) under threat from an unscrupulous lawman (Guy Pearce). Nick Cave (yes, that one) adapted an original novel for the screenplay.

Bootleggers fight for survival in Lawless 

Friday 22nd: Lots of interesting stuff in cinemas from today, including Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle's biopic of jazz legend Miles Davis; Idris Elba in Paris-set thriller Bastille Day, and 
Arabian Nights Volume 1: The Restless Onethe first part of Miguel Gomes' three-part epic which adapts the original Middle Eastern stories to modern-day Portugal. Additionally, there's Mapplethorpe: Look At The Picturesa documentary about late US photographer/provocateur Robert Mapplethorpe, which will also be available on Curzon Home Cinema. Meryl Streep is the special guest on Kermode And Mayo's Film Review (14:00, BBC Radio 5 Live), where she discusses her new film, Florence Foster Jenkins. Takashi Miike's Kurosawa-inspired 13 Assassins (01:05, Channel 4) is well worth catching for the astonishing battle set-piece that takes up much of the film's second half. 

Idris Elba kicks French arse in Bastille Day

Saturday 23rd: Mesrine: Killer Instinct (12:05, BBC2) and Mesrine: Public Enemy No.1 (01:50, BBC2) are parts one and two of Jean-Fran├žois Richet's sprawling crime thriller chronicling the life and death of legendary French gangster Jacques Mesrine. The excellent Vincent Cassel (La Haine) plays the titular character, 'The Man of a Thousand Faces' notorious for his daring prison escapes and numerous robberies, kidnappings and murders committed over several continents during the 1960s and '70s. If you like your crime capers violent and epic - think Scarface meets Legend - this double bill is most certainly for you.

Jacques Mesrine was France's Public Enemy No.1

Sunday 24th: John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness (21:00, Horror Channel) sees Donald Pleasence (yay!) discover a mysterious cylinder in an abandoned Los Angeles church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world (clue: it contains the essence of Satan - probably the worst idea for an aftershave ever). Almost as silly is Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man (11:00, Gold) in which Labour MP Diane Abbott and grumpy pop star Elvis Costello team up to battle the supernatural. 

Prince Of Darkness: Old Nick's back and causing trouble

Last 5 Films I saw
1. Husbands (1970): John Cassavetes' no-holds-barred dissection of middle-aged masculinity stars Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and the director himself, as three pals embarking on a booze-fuelled bender following the funeral of a close friend.
2. Gone Girl (2014): Rosamund Pike is a genuinely chilling presence in David Fincher's cold-hearted and blackly comical 'missing person' thriller. It's enough to put you off marriage for life...
3. Sunset Song (2015): Beautiful but bleak book adaptation from Terence Davies. Agyness Deyn – in only her second lead role – dazzles as a bright young woman battling to survive a harsh upbringing in rural Scotland.
4. Eisenstein In Guanajuato (2015): Sumptuous, difficult and maddening - yep, this story of Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein's sexual awakening in 1930s Mexico is a Peter Greenaway film all right.
5. Absolutely Anything (2015): Alien supreme beings imbue Simon Pegg's struggling everyman with the ultimate super power in a daft but likeable comedy. The Pythons and the late Robin Williams provide voices.

Men under the microscope in Husbands

UK box-office top 10
1. The Huntsman Winter's War
2. Zootropolis R
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice R
4. Eddie The Eagle
5. Kung Fu Panda 3
6. Midnight Special
7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
8. 10 Cloverfield Lane
9. London Has Fallen
10. Hardcore Henry

R = Recommended
All information correct at time of publication

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