Monday 25 July 2016

Zootropolis, The Fall and Young Frankenstein: Your Week In Film (July 25-31)

Animal Magic: Zootropolis is smarter than the average animation

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

Monday 25th: Rabbit cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) teams up with conman fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to unearth a massive conspiracy in Zootropolis (VOD, DVD and Blu-ray), an utterly charming anthropomorphic adventure from Disney. Under the ubiquitous 'You can be anything you want to be' life lessons, there are laughs aplenty, some seriously impressive world building and surprisingly adult themes (when was the last time you saw a 'kids' film' tackle racial profiling?). Byron Howard and Rich Moore's movie is also beautifully written and animated, and packed full of memorable scenes. Not sure why its original US title - Zootopia - was changed for the British market though. We pretty much invented puns over here, you know. Somewhat bleaker is The End Of The Tour (VOD and DVD). Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg are both terrific in a sharp, character-led drama about David Foster Wallace, the acclaimed author of Infinite Jest. Segel, who you will know and probably dislike from bad US sitcoms (How I Met Your Mother) and worse US movies (Sex Tape), is a revelation as the troubled author as he slowly but surely opens up to Eisenberg's pushy journalist. I haven't seen Chet Baker biopic Born To Be Blue yet but will give it a mention here as the film is getting a simultaneous multi-platform release. You can see Robert Budreau's movie - which stars Ethan Hawke as the American jazz trumpeter and vocalist - on VOD, DVD, Blu-ray and in cinemas from today. I dream of a time when all new films can be viewed in the same way. Elsewhere, there's The Complete Buster Keaton Short Films 1917-1923 (Blu-ray), a lovingly-assembled four-disc boxset featuring all 32 of the silent movie legend's shorts, plus a ton of extras. Stanley Kubrick's glorious Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb (Blu-ray) is the latest release to be given the swanky Criterion Collection treatment. "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

Treasure Jest: The End Of The Tour is a sharp drama

Tuesday 26th: The Wolfpack (22:10, Sky Atlantic) is the head-spinning true story of the Angulos, six brothers raised in a small apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and only very rarely allowed to venture into the outside world by their insanely overprotective parents. Isolated from society, the boys seek refuge in movies, building elaborate props and costumes as they re-enact favourite scenes from the likes of Reservoir Dogs and The Dark Knight. But what happens when they’re all grown up and no longer need follow their parents' diktats? Director Crystal Moselle’s documentary was one of last year's best, even if some journalists accused it of playing fast and loose with the facts of the Angulos' situation. Cary Grant and Grace Kelly star in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief (14:25 and 04:00, Sky Cinema Select). The comedy/thriller from 1955 may be one of Hitch's lighter films, but it has charm and wit to burn, plus two leads at the top of their game. Online subscription service MUBI is showing On The Waterfront from today. Marlon Brando is the ex-boxer taking a stand against corrupt union bosses in Elia Kazan's powerful 1954 drama which won eight Oscars.

Real Steal: Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief

Wednesday 27th: Well, this is embarrassing. Despite being a fan of both Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass (It took me about two days to get over United 93 after first seeing it), I've never caught ANY of the Bourne films. Let's call it The Bourne Insufficiency. The latest in the high-octane action series - simply titled Jason Bourne - is in cinemas from today and I clearly have some catching up to do. Also on release from today is The Fall, a documentary that reunites runners Zola Budd and Mary Decker 30+ years after their infamous clash in the 3000 metres final at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Budd - a white South African parachuted into the British team to get round the then-in-force sporting boycott of apartheid - accidentally tripped her American rival during the race and was so mortified she lost the will to go for gold herself. The film is also being shown on Sky Atlantic on Friday (21:00) and repeated on Sunday (12:00). John C Reilly is taken under the wing of Philip Baker Hall's professional gambler in Paul Thomas Anderson's superb Hard Eight (Netflix UK). Everything runs smoothly until he falls in love with Gwyneth Paltrow's cocktail waitress. The ensemble cast - which also includes Samuel L Jackson and Philip Seymour Hoffman - is impressive, Anderson revels in the low-key, sleazy world of casinos and motel rooms, and the twists are worth waiting for. 

Natural Bourne killer: Damon and Greengrass reunite 

Thursday 28th: Steven Spielberg's debut feature Duel (Horror Channel, 10:00) from 1971 sees Dennis Weaver's mild-mannered businessman relentlessly terrorised by the psychotic driver of a truck. It's been called 'Jaws on the highway' and that's a pretty good description of a smart chase movie full of tension and thrills. Jason Bourne director Paul Greengrass gives presenter Francine Stock a masterclass in how to direct a thriller in this week's The Film Programme (16:00, BBC Radio 4).

Fury road: Dennis Weaver is in big trouble in The Duel

Friday 29th: Ryan O'Neal is the titular Barry Lyndon in Stanley Kubrick's 10th film, a slow but rewarding 18th Century-set drama which returns to cinemas today. 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. Also in cinemas is The Commune (VOD and cinemas), a 'bittersweet comedy' from Festen director Thomas Vinterburg; Pixar animation sequel Finding Dory, and Author: The JT LeRoy Story, a documentary recounting the intriguing tale of Laura Albert, a 40-year-old Brooklyn woman who created a 'public avatar' (the titular LeRoy) who quickly became a successful author. More complex and interesting than a mere hoax, Albert used the fake persona to write about painful events from her life she'd have found difficult to discuss under her own name. The Guardian Film Show was a popular weekly video review of new releases that ran for several years on the newspaper's website, until it was controversially canned in a round of cost cutting earlier this year. They tried a daily podcast after that which was pretty awful but now the spirit of the Film Show has returned in the form of The Guardian Film Review. A regular weekly podcast, it's the same as the original show, only presenter Xan Brooks is noticeable by his absence and its audio not video. Still, some fine critics are still on board, including the learned Peter Bradshaw and caustic Catherine Shoard, which makes it worth a listen. Edith Bowman and Robbie Collin sit in for the regular presenters on Kermode And Mayo's Film Review (14:00, BBC Radio 5 Live). Finding Dory star Ellen Degeneres is their guest. MUBI wrap up their season dedicated to Nicolas Winding Refn with My Life, a documentary made by the Danish director's wife, Liv Corfixen, which documents the making of Only God Forgives.

Rogue one: Ryan O'Neal is Barry Lyndon 

Saturday 30th: Versus: The Life And Films Of Ken Loach (21:10, BBC Two) is a celebratory documentary charting the 50-year career of the much-acclaimed British director of Kes, The Wind That Shakes The Barley and the forthcoming I, Daniel Blake. The 80-year-old filmmaker's Sweet Sixteen (23:40, BBC Two) - about a young boy trying to raise the cash to help his mum escape a pair of abusive relationships - follows later in the evening. Elsewhere tonight there's Clint Eastwood's classic revenge western Unforgiven (22:50, ITV4), Arnie fights an alien badass tougher than ALF and E.T. combined in Predator (21:00, Film 4), and the Wachowskis give us Bound (23:10, Film4), a thoroughly enjoyable lesbian crime caper starring Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly.

Too much, too young: Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen

Sunday 31st: Mel Brooks' joyously demented Young Frankenstein (16:40, Movie Mix) is easily your best bet today. For what it's worth, the plot goes like this: neurosurgeon Frederick (Gene Wilder) is the American grandson of Victor von Frankenstein and, having inherited his dead relative's castle, travels to Transylvania. There he encounters hunchback assistant Igor (Marty Feldman) and quickly realises his grandfather's work on reanimating the dead wasn't quite as crazy as he'd first thought. Madness and hilarity ensue. Endlessly quotable ("Fronkensteen"), gloriously silly and laugh-out-loud funny, it's probably only second to The Producers as Brooks' finest moment. 

Monster fun: Wilder in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein

UK box office Top 10
1. Ghostbusters R
2. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift 
3. The Secret Life Of Pets
4. The Legend Of Tarzan R
5. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
6. Secret Cinema: Dirty Dancing
7. Now You See Me 2
8. Central Intelligence 
9. Independence Day: Resurgence 
10. The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case

R = Recommended

All information correct at time of publication


  1. I don't know if you will like the Bourne films but they are worth watching. The first is pretty good, but the second and third are better; the plot of the third starts halfway through that of the second, which is quite fun. Avoid the Damon-deficient fourth one though; it's a janky mess.

    Duel is amazing. One of my favourite Spielberg films and it's sad to see how he used to make tight and focussed films without the bloat and sentimentality of his more recent work.

    I saw Barry Lyndon for the first time a year or so ago and I found it wonderful. It's so long that I don't know when I will watch it again, but it won me over with its bittersweet charms.

  2. I agree on Spielberg. I rarely dislike his later films but the likes of Duel, Close Encounters and Jaws just blow them out of the water. I saw Jaws again quite recently and had forgotten just how good it is - it had me on the edge of my seat even when I knew what was coming! I don't know how I managed to miss the Bourne films - they look like something I'd enjoy. Very odd!