Something for the Weekend (15 - 17 May)


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Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter reflects on how he'd normally be spending this time of year, suggests his own slogan for these trying times, and picks the best films to watch this weekend and beyond...

Some of us would have had the privilege of being in Cannes this week for a festival that was expected to include such delights as Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Paul Verhoeven’s long-awaited Benedetta, Ana Lily Amirpour’s Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon, and Jury President Spike Lee’s Da Five Bloods, which now comes to Netflix on June 12 instead. Having attended Cannes Film Festival every year since 1986, it feels strange not to be bustling along the Croisette or marching up the red carpet to the grand Lumiere cinema. There will be other years and other festivals. Until then there are so many things to watch in the comfort and safety of your own abode. If any government is in the market for a decent slogan then 'Stay Home, Watch Movies, Save Lives' is sounding pretty good at the moment. Here are some recommendations for the weekend and coming week.

Women Make Film 

BFI releasing
Available to watch on: Blu-Ray from 18 May

Every film buff worth their salt knows their Hitchcocks and Kurosawas, but how many of us have had the chance to savour the work of Kira Muratova or Kinuyo Tanaka?  Mark Cousins' landmark documentary was one of the highlights of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival. Lockdown allows some of us (not all) the luxury of time to watch an eye-opening 14-hour history of cinema viewed entirely through the films of women directors. There are names here we cherish from Agnes Varda to Ida Lupino, but also a real voyage of discovery through a roll-call of talent who have been inexplicably neglected or virtually erased from the history books. Narrated by the likes of Jane Fonda, Sharmila Tagore and executive producer Tilda Swinton, this is an inspiring endeavour that will leave you on a mission to track down and devour a whole new world of cinema. I’ve already watched films by Jacqueline Audry and Edith Carlmar for the first time.

The Orphanage 

MUBI releasing
Available to watch on: MUBI

Writer/director Shahrbanoo Sadat caught the eye with Wolf And Sheep (2016). The follow-up offers another distinctive window into Afghanistan’s recent past and is set in Kabul during the pro-Soviet government of the late 1980s. Qodratollah (Qodratollah Qadiri) is a teenage boy scooped off the streets and placed in a Soviet-run orphanage for boys. What follows is a picaresque, almost Dickensian, evocation of his encounters with new allies and swaggering bullies, a diet of grey food contrasted with the colourful escapism of his passion for Bollywood fantasy. An endearing, slow-burn of a film in which the struggles of an individual reflect the bigger picture of Afghan life.

The Atom: A Love Affair

Dartmouth Films releasing
Available to watch on: Curzon Home Cinema

Our attitude to nuclear power has run the gamut from wild infatuation to bitter disillusion. Vicki Lesley’s absorbing documentary treats the subject as a romance, bringing a light touch to a weighty subject. Choice archive footage, vintage interviews and a jazzy soundtrack all enhance a decade-by-decade approach that stretches from Eisenhower’s influential 'Atoms For Peace' speech in 1953, to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 and beyond. A wide-ranging piece that acknowledges those who thought nuclear power was a miracle technology and those who predicted a toxic legacy that will be felt for countless generations to come. Lily Cole narrates.

God's Own Country

We currently await a release date for Francis Lee’s period romance Ammonite, with Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Until then, Lee (@strawhousefilms), actors Josh O’Connor (@JoshOConnor15) and Alec Secareanu (@Alec Secareanu) are reunited for a live Q&A about Lee’s heartfelt love story God’s Own Country. That takes place on YouTube and Facebook this Sunday 17 May at 8pm.

Also Showing...

Those fine folk at Talking Pictures TV (Freeview 81, Virgin 445, Sky 328) are spoiling us this week with their range of enticing classic films. You can catch Powell and Pressburger’s peerless Hebrides romance I Know Where I’m Going (1945) on Friday 15 May at 7pm; and one of Sean Connery’s finest performances in The Molly Maguires (1970) on Sunday 17 May at 10pm - a muscular tale of industrial conflict in the Pennsylvania coal mines of 1876. Saturday 16 May is especially appealing with a rare screening of the lush Jane Wyman romance Lucy Gallant (1955) at 2.40pm, and Fritz Lang’s wartime thriller Cloak And Dagger (1946) at 6.50pm, starring Gary Cooper and Lilli Palmer. 

The beloved James Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 and fans will find his birthday week filled with treats. The Criterion Collection releases the comic Western Destry Rides Again (1939) on Blu-Ray on Monday 18 May. Screwball comedy Vivacious Lady (1938) screens on BBC2 at 3pm on the big day, and Sky Greats (Sky 304, Virgin 404) also goes full Jimmy on 20 May with a day of screenings that includes Rear Window (1954) at 11am, Vertigo (1958) at 1pm, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) at 3.15pm. Really, who needs to go out?  


All Monday to Friday shows before 5pm have capacity capped at 50% (unless otherwise stated). All other screenings have full unlimited seating capacity (unless otherwise stated).

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