Something For The Weekend (14 - 16 August)


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Technoboss

Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter is back with his weekly look at the latest news from the film industry, and his pick of the best films to watch over the weekend and beyond.

Is Christopher Nolan’s Tenet the saviour of the cinema industry? There is a considerable amount riding on its success when it opens in UK cinemas on 26 August. It is the first real blockbuster to test the waters of audience appetite. It also looks pretty lonely out there as it boldly ventures where others fear to read, especially Mulan. American blockbusters are vital to the commercial viability of cinemas across the globe but they have never been the only game in town. Perhaps one lesson of the pandemic has been the need to support and nurture independent, home grown filmmaking in all its forms. Let’s welcome more variety into our film diet rather than narrowing choice to a point where we maybe don’t feel that hunger any more. 

It seems to be working in South Korea where action thriller Deliver Us From Evil has arrived hot on the heels of Peninsula to create another box office sensation. Diversity should be the life blood of cinema at home and abroad. In support of that sentiment I would urge you to dive into the special online edition of Glasgow Short Film Festival which begins its wide-ranging programme on Monday. Highlights include a focus on Thai filmmaker Sorayos Prapapan, thematic programmes Black Spatial Imaginaries and Urban Palimpsests, the early shorts of Japanese auteur Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, and a spotlight on animator Tomasz Popakul. Until that arrives, here are some pick’n’mix choices to see you through the weekend.

Babyteeth (15)

Released by Picturehouse Entertainment
Available to watch: selected cinemas from 14 August

Babyteeth was one of the discoveries of the 2019 Venice Film Festival. Australian director Shannon Murphy’s smart, beguiling debut captures all the messy business of living, with caustic wit and understanding. Free-spirited teenager Milla (Eliza Scanlen from Little Women) has terminal cancer. The film doesn’t focus on her gruelling treatment and fading hopes. Instead, it revels in the living she still has to do, especially when she meets drug-addicted bad boy Moses (an outstanding Toby Wallace). Milla is crazy in love with a lad that any parent would regard as entirely unsuitable. Psychologist father Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) and pianist mother Anna (Essie Davis) set aside their disapproval to create a space for Moses in the family. The result is a quirky, moving little film that balances heartbreak and hilarity as imperfect individuals find a way of being in the moment and acting for the best. Recommended. 

COUP 53

Released by Amirani Media
Available to watch: virtual screening on Wednesday 19 August. Buy your ticket via GFT and 50% of the ticket price comes to us.

Taghi Amirani’s documentary is as compelling as a John le Carré novel in the way it exposes British involvement in Operation Ajax, the 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. A labour of love for Amirani, Coup 53 was inspired by his admiration for Mohammad Mosaddegh, a politician who believed in an independent Iran with control over its own vast oil resources. Predictably, the British and American governments used every means at their disposal to discredit and remove him. Working with editor Walter Murch, Amirani doggedly tracks down key documents, quizzes expert witnesses and uncovers vital testimony. The result is a jaw-dropping account of imperialist misadventures, with a notable use of Ralph Fiennes to voice and perform the words of MI6 operative Norman Darbyshire.

Technoboss

Released by MUBI
Available to watch: available on MUBI

Joao Nicolau’s quirky little charmer Technoboss wasn’t one of the bigger hits of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, but it still brings a smile to my face and deserves a wider audience. Miguel Lobo Antunes’s weary old salesman Luis spends his lonely nights on the road, reading a succession of Maigret novels in anonymous hotels. He remains an incurable romantic, a blithe spirit who charms his customers and expresses himself by singing with gusto as he drives to his next appointment. He has his sights set on rekindling an old romance and you are with him every step of the way in this cocktail of deadpan comedy, romantic longing and plaintive crooning that marches to its own defiantly idiosyncratic beat.

My Rembrandt

Dogwoof releasing
Available to watch: Selected cinemas and digital platforms including Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 14 August

The rarified world of art collection comes under the microscope in the elegant, unsettling documentary My Rembrandt. What makes an 'Old Master' worth millions? Which individuals can afford to dabble in the market without any concern for the price? Are they genuine art lovers or desperately seeking status symbols? The story and insights here revolve around aristocratic Dutch dealer Jan Six who believes he has discovered two previously unknown Rembrandts. The Duke Of Buccleuch, proud owner of Rembrandt’s An Old Woman Reading, is among those visited along the way as we discover a world of vicious rivalry where reputations are all too easily made and lost.

The Man Who Laughs

Eureka Entertainment releasing
Available to watch: on Blu-Ray from Monday 17 August

Decades before Joaquin Phoenix put on a happy face to play the Joker, Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, Casablanca, etc) starred as The Man Who Laughs. Director Paul Leni’s 1928 adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel partly inspired artists Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson to create the Batman villain, but there are many more reasons to appreciate the film. A thundering melodrama with striking sets and stark German expressionist visuals, it is filled with cruel twists of fate, court intrigue, romance and redemption. It starts in the reign of James II. A rebel’s son is punished by surgery that leaves him with a permanent ghoulish grin. Gwynplaine (Veidt) finds fame as a carnival freak but also forms a tender attachment to the blind Dea (Mary Philbin). True love finds countless obstacles in its path in a satisfying silent-era saga that comes complete with a terrific canine performance.

Also Showing...

Television schedules this weekend lack some of the sparkle they have shown in recent weeks. There doesn’t seem to be a decent Olivia De Havilland film anywhere! There are still a few little gems worthy of your attention. The magnificent Lesley Manville gives another flawless performance starring opposite a tender, understated Liam Neeson as a loving couple facing a breast cancer diagnosis in the heartbreaker Ordinary Love (2019) on Sky Premiere, Sunday 16 August at 10.15pm. If you want a reminder of how well Glasgow has served as a backdrop for some hefty Hollywood blockbusters then look out for Brad Pitt in the action-packed zombie pandemic thriller World War Z (2013) on Channel 4, Saturday 15 August at 10.45pm. 

Vintage titles to entice over the coming days include a well-matched Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in This Gun For Hire (1942) on Sky Movies Classic, Sunday 16 August at 11am. And Gregory Peck gives one of his best performances as a wartime leader carrying the burden of high command in Twelve O’Clock High (1949) on Sky Movies Action, Sunday 16 August 16th at 6.15pm.


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