Something For The Weekend (1 - 3 May)

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Time on your hands? Overwhelmed by the viewing choices now facing you? We are here to help. A traditional trip to the cinema may still be some way off but the GFT and GFF staff have been pulling out all the stops to offer recommendations, content and countless ways to stay connected with our cherished, loyal audience. We will meet again but until then there are plenty of films making their premieres on digital platforms. Each week our aim is to cast a critical eye over three of the week’s high profiles releases and offer a few more suggestions for your viewing pleasure. We’d love to hear what you have been watching.

Allan Hunter, Co-Director of Glasgow Film Festival, offers his picks to watch this weekend, below.

The Assistant (15)

Vertigo releasing
Available to watch on: BFI Player, Curzon Home Cinema, iTunes/ Apple TV, Amazon, Sky Store, Virgin, Google Play, Microsoft.

The toxic culture that enabled a Harvey Weinstein to flourish provides the setting for The Assistant, a subtle, minimalist study of power and the insidious ways in which it corrupts. Screened at Sundance and Berlin, Kitty Green’s film is a timely tale of exploitation and misogyny that leaves you with lots to mull over. Jane (an excellent Julia Garner) is an assistant in the New York office of a hot-shot movie mogul. We never see him but we surely know the type. Green immerses us in the dreary, unglamorous end of the film business during a day in which Julia is expected to play gatekeeper, child minder, logistics wizard and ace photocopier. The muted colour palette and tight camera compositions give the impression of Julia being trapped. Her status almost renders her invisible, leaving her an observer of an organisation in which a powerful man is able to act with impunity. Events test whether she is willing to challenge that system or become complicit in its survival. Muted and low-key in its approach, The Assistant has none of the flashy melodrama of Bombshell but is a plaintive, thought-provoking reflection on the #MeToo era.

Ema (15)

MUBI releasing
Available to watch on: Sky Store, Virgin Media, iTunes, Amazon, Sony, Google Play

The central figure in Pablo Larraín’s Ema is a young woman playing with fire in a literal and metaphorical sense. Flame-throwers are just part of the armoury she deploys to get what she wants. Dancer Ema (a fierce Mariana Di Girolamo) and her petulant choreographer husband Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal) have adopted a young boy called Polo (Cristian Suarez). His reckless behaviour has endangered lives and they have now chosen to place him back in the care system. It is a decision they will regret and one that will force Ema to devise an elaborate plan to regain custody. Success seems to require that everyone she meets is beguiled by her presence which stretches credibility as she proceeds to seduce divorce lawyer Raquel (Paola Giannini), firefighter Anibal (Santiago Cabrera) and most of the female members of her dance troupe. Visually striking in its neon-fused cityscapes and plumes of fire shooting into sombre blue skies, the film offers an opaque fusion of Almodovar-style family melodrama, psychological thriller and dance musical. It doesn’t all work or entirely gel but it does have a distinctive style and a plot that constantly wrong-foots the viewer. A playful, unsettling celebration of female empowerment told from a male point of view. 

Diana Kennedy - Nothing Fancy (CTBC)

Dogwoof releasing
Available to watch on: Curzon Home Cinema, Apple TV, Amazon Video, Google Play, ITunes, Microsoft Store, Sky Store, Virgin Media Store.

If food has become a bit of an obsession during the lockdown then you will greedily devour the documentary Diana Kennedy - Nothing Fancy. Now 97, British chef Kennedy has been a passionate advocate of authentic regional Mexican cooking for over 60 years. Her intrepid travels over many decades have made her a global expert on the tastiest guacamole recipe or the perfect papadzules. Cook books, articles and television series all testify to her unique knowledge. Elizabeth Carroll’s affectionate documentary captures the flavours and textures of an extraordinary life. Kennedy is spiky, opinionated and finds fools hard to stomach. She has also been a trailblazer on environmental issues and sustainability. A few more recipes might not have gone amiss but this is still a documentary that will make you pine for a stroll through a food market or a whiff of fragrant fresh ingredients. Kennedy’s belief that good things require time and effort is not a bad motto for these strange days.

Also Showing...

Talking Pictures TV (available on TV channels Virgin 445, Freeview 81, Sky 328) has become a treasured haven for vintage movie-lovers as it presents familiar classics and rarely-screened gems. I’ve never seen Thunder In The East (1952) which is screening on 2 May at 3.55pm. It's a Casablanca-style drama set in post-independence India and I don’t expect greatness, but the cast of Deborah Kerr, Alan Ladd and Charles Boyer makes it irresistible. 

Finally, those lovely people at MUBI are screening Billy Wilder’s Fedora (1978) from 2 May. An autumnal companion piece to Sunset Boulevard in which producer William Holden attempts to lure a reclusive, Garbo-like star from retirement, it is very underrated. 

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