Monday 11 July 2016

Ghostbusters, The Hard Stop and Theeb: Your Week In Film (July 11-17)

The whole tooth: The Coens are on top form with Hail, Caesar!

Monday 11th: Who you gonna call? Certainly not Ghostbusters because, get this, they're ALL BLOODY GIRLS NOW! How can girls bust ghosts when they'd have to stop every five minutes to worry about periods and make-up and whether they fancy Justin Bieber or not? Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and the other two have kidnapped my childhood, put it in a sack, taken a big wee on it, then thrown it in the river. It's absolute sacrilege, just like that time when I made a petition to get Ben Affleck sacked from playing Batman. He was really good as it turned out and not a woman, but that's beside the point – if we give in to the PC feminazi brigade over this, before we know it there'll be a black Captain America, a female Thor, and a black female Iron Man. And further more... sorry, what? There is? Dear god... i-if anyone wants me I'll be at my gentleman's club drinking scotch and growing a neck beard. (Paul Feig's Ghostbusters is in cinemas from today).

That's the spirit: Ghostbusters is in UK cinemas now 

On the home entertainment front, three films that made my top 20 of the year so far are out today in various formats and all are worth parting with your hard-earned cash for. Hail, Caesar! (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD) is the Coen Brothers' love letter to old Hollywood - it oozes warmth, wit and charm. Somewhat darker is Deniz Gamze Erg├╝ven's drama Mustang (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD), about five orphaned Turkish sisters who are held prisoner by their conservative guardians after being caught fraternising with local boys. Couple In A Hole (DVD) is a real hidden gem; Paul Higgins (The Thick Of It) and Kate Dickie (The Witch) are the titular marrieds living like savages in a French forest following a family tragedy. 

Sister act: Mustang is a dark but defiant drama

In fact, it's an uncommonly excellent week for home entertainment releases because also out today are Charlie Kaufman's stop-motion oddity Anomalisa (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD), Ken Russell's satirically seedy Crimes Of Passion (Dual Format), gripping psychodrama Queen Of Earth (Dual Format) and Andrei Tarkovsky's 15th century-set Russian epic Andrei Rublev (DVD and Blu-ray). TV-wise, Joseph Gordon-Levitt just about gets away with his outrageous French accent in The Walk (20:00, Sky Cinema Premiere) as he plays high-wire artist Philippe Petit who, in 1974, walked between the towers of the World Trade Centre.
French connection: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Walk

Tuesday 12th: There's only place to be tonight and that's sat in front of the box watching Film4. They are serving up a fine hat-trick of marvellous movies, starting off with Bridesmaids (21:00). Due to the release of Ghostbusters, the channel is showing several Melissa McCarthy movies this week and this smart and raucous wedding comedy gets proceedings off to a cracking start. Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne also star. Based on a true story, Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring (23:25) is a deliberately slight but blade-sharp reflection on celebrity culture, consumerism and class. A gang of fame-obsessed teenagers – including Emma Watson’s Nicki – use the internet to track favourite celebs’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes. Of course, their crime spree can’t continue and it isn’t long before they start showing up on stars’ security footage all over Los Angeles. A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence (01:10) is an utterly surreal and gloriously downbeat Swedish movie that should appeal to any self-respecting fan of British/Irish comedy. Spike Milligan, Samuel Beckett, Monty Python and the sitcoms of Dick Clement and Ian De Frenais are all invoked in a film that plays out as a series of sketches, most featuring two hopeless travelling salesmen. Roy Andersson's work is an acquired taste for sure but one you should definitely have a nibble on.

Special Branch: The surreal delights of Swedish cinema

Wednesday 13th: Do my eyes deceive me or are Sky actually showing a sub-titled foreign language film on their main movie channel? Yes, it's really happening and they've picked a very good one. In Arabic, Theeb (22:35 and 02:35, Sky Cinema Premiere, also available on NOW TV) is a p
owerful coming-of-age tale, set in the years before WWI, about a young Bedouin boy marooned in the desert with an injured bandit after the death of his brother. It's a beautiful-looking piece of work (shades of Lawrence Of Arabia at times) and effortlessly carried by youngster Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat as the titular Theeb. British-Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar's film is refreshingly unpredictable, too, managing to totally wrong-foot me twice.

Desert storm: Theeb makes its debut on Sky Cinema 

Thursday 14th: Francine Stock presents 'Ghostbusters Revisited' in this week's The Film Programme (16:00, BBC Radio 4), in which the Comedians Cinema Club offer their "unique take" on the beloved '80s comedy, the reboot of which is in cinemas now. There's more Melissa McCarthy on Film4 tonight and
The Heat (21:00) is probably my favourite of her collaborations with director Paul Feig. McCarthy plays a foul-mouthed and monumentally scuzzy Boston police detective who has to team up with Sandra Bullock's prissy FBI agent to bring down a gang of ruthless drug smugglers. Whilst it's true to say these 'buddy cop' movies all have very similar structures and tropes, The Heat is elevated greatly by the chemistry of its two stars and a whip-smart script. Subscription streaming service MUBI adds cracking 1950s western Shane to its catalogue today. Alan Ladd is the reformed gunslinger forced to come out of retirement when a ruthless cattle baron and his hired goon (Jack Palance) start menacing locals.

History Of Violence: Ladd's a retired gunslinger in Shane

Friday 15th: It's an unusually low-key Friday in cinemas (too many blockbusters all out at the same time?) but I shall certainly be checking out The Hard StopGeorge Amponsah's documentary focuses on the aftermath of the 2011 killing of Marc Duggan by police and the riots and lawlessness in Tottenham it provoked. Amponsah visits Duggan's neighbourhood and talks to his friends, Marcus and Curtis, who are still coming to terms with his death while trying to make a life for themselves. The Hard Stop seems like an honest attempt to humanise young men often vilified and deliberately misrepresented in the media and for that it should be applauded. With The Neon Demon still in cinemas and dividing audiences, MUBI has a Nicholas Winding Refn season in full swing. His startling low-budget debut Pusher was added last week and Drive joins it from today. The Danish auteur's masterful LA noir stars Ryan Gosling as a mysterious, taciturn car mechanic/stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver. Gosling - his character doesn't have a name - runs bumper-first into trouble when he agrees to help out his struggling neighbour Carey Mulligan. It's stylish, stunning and one of my favourite films of the last decade. Kermode And Mayo's Film Review isn't even on the radio today, the golf has relegated it to the Five Live website (14:00). However, the show will be aired on the station on Saturday evening at 19:00. As I've said before, you'd be much better off just listening to the podcast. Chris Pine is this week's guest, talking about Star Trek Beyond. The excellent Nina Hoss stars as the titular Barbara (00:30, BBC2) in Christian Petzold's tale of life under the Stasi in 1980s East Germany. It's powerful, gripping stuff, every bit as good as last year's Phoenix which marked the pair's sixth collaboration. 

The riot club: The Hard Stop returns to Tottenham

Saturday 16th: Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen star in The Desolation Of Smaug (19:45, ITV), probably the best of Peter Jackson's much-maligned Hobbit films. Smaug himself - a skyscraper-sized dragon voiced with wicked relish by Benedict Cumberbatch - makes the interminable running time and less interesting subplots worth enduring. Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island (21:30, Channel 4) is a psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a traumatised US marshal investigating the disappearance from an insane asylum of a woman (Emily Mortimer) who killed her three children. Not one of the director's best films but tension drips from every frame. 
Sunday 17th: I have a confession to make. I've never seen The Lion King (18:15, Channel 4) - nope, not even when my kids were little. The words 'Songs by Elton John and Tim Rice' were enough to put me off for life, I'm afraid. Thor (20:00, Channel 4) isn't in the same class as Marvel's best films (Iron Man, The Guardians Of The Galaxy) but a strong cast - including Tom Hiddleston as the titular character's treacherous half-brother Loki - keeps things interesting. Daniel Craig made his debut as James Bond in Casino Royale (21:00, ITV) and immediately gave the 007 franchise a much-needed shot in the arm. He's helped enormously by Mads Mikkelsen as bad-guy Le Chiffre, a corrupt banker who finances terrorists. 

Plastered: DiCaprio is traumatised in Shutter Island

UK box office top 10
1. The Secret Life Of Pets
2. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
3. Central Intelligence 
4. Independence Day: Resurgence 
5. The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case
6. Me Before You 
7. The Nice Guys R
8. Alice Through The Looking Glass 
9. The Jungle Book R
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows 

R = Recommended

All information correct at time of publication

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