Something for the Weekend (17 - 19 July)

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Hell or High Water

Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter is back with his weekly look at the best films to watch over the weekend and beyond.

The most popular film at British cinemas last weekend was The Empire Strikes Back (1980). It may have earned a modest £50,000 but that is more than any other film, old or new, currently on release. Cinemas are slowly, cautiously, responsibly beginning to open their doors once again. The arrival of a shiny new must-see blockbuster any time soon seems to be at the mercy of events in America. It would surely kick start the revival. New ways of working have taken big cultural events online and brought films to different spaces. Titles in the Sound & Vision Drive-in (July 30 - August 9) collaboration between Glasgow Film Festival and Electric Frog were announced this week and include a host of favourites from Casablanca (1942) to Jaws (1975), and Purple Rain (1984) to Beats (2019). Tickets are on sale now. 

Nobody wants to tempt fate but it is starting to feel as if the big screen experience is on its way back. Until then, here are some recommendations for weekend viewing in the comfort and safety of your own abode...


Bohemia Media releasing
Available to watch: Bohemia Media streaming and Curzon Home Cinema from 17 July.

Many folks thought that Alfre Woodard could have been an Oscar contender earlier this year. The belated UK release of Sundance prize-winner Clemency shows us why. Woodard plays Bernardine, a long-serving prison warden who takes pride in her professionalism. Her implacable features betray none of what she feels as she comforts emotional relatives, handles inmates and oversees state executions by lethal injection. This intense, slow-burning drama from director Chinonye Chukwu reveals the price she pays for the job she does. The strain on her marriage and the wear and tear on her soul all begin to take their toll as she prepares yet another man for his execution. Aldis Hodge and Richard Schiff are notable in supporting roles, and Woodard is very  moving as Bernardine’s life starts to unravel.

Bunuel In The Labyrinth Of The Turtles

BFI releasing
Available to watch: available now on BFI Player

Film buffs should take particular delight from Bunuel In The Labyrinth Of The Turtles, an inspired animated feature exploring the making of the director’s 1933 documentary Las Hurdes (Land Without Bread). When we meet Bunuel, he has set the world alight with L’Age D’Or but cannot secure funding for his future projects. When his friend Ramon Acin wins the lottery he agrees to bankroll a film about a disappearing way of peasant life in a remote corner of Spain. The making of the film, Bunuel’s casual attitude to documenting reality and the obsessions that would shape his life are cleverly interwoven in a film that also includes some of the black and white live footage from the actual documentary. An intriguing and unexpectedly moving tale.

Bela Lugosi Chillers

Eureka Entertainment releasing
Available to watch: Blu-ray release from Monday 20 July

Bela Lugosi’s unforgettable Dracula cemented his position as one of the titans of screen horror in the 1930s. The latest limited edition Masters Of Cinema release from Eureka brings together a trio of Lugosi titles from his glory days and all based on work by master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe. The titles featured are Murders In The Rue Morgue (1932) in which Lugosi’s mad scientist seeks a mate for a talking ape, psychodrama The Black Cat (1934) with Lugosi battling Satan-worshipping architect Boris Karloff, and The Raven (1935) in which Lugosi plays a plastic surgeon torturing prisoner Boris Karloff. The films retain a primitive charge and often display nimble camerawork and striking expressionist sets that have stood the test of time. 

And The Birds Rained Down (Il Pleuvait des oiseaux) 

Canada Now releasing
Available to watch: Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 17 July

It is great to see so many GFF 2020 highlights now making their way to a wider audience. Louise Archambault’s quietly beguiling adaptation of the Jocelyne Saucier novel offers a poignant tale of love and loss that is beautifully acted by its veteran Canadian cast. Three elderly men live off the grid in woodland cabins in the Quebec countryside. Their lives change with the arrival of Gertrude, a woman who has spent her adult life unjustly detained in an institution. Liberated by her nephew, it is the kindness of these strangers that grants her a first chance at life. Andree Lachapelle and Remy Girard lead the cast. 

Also Showing...

Does anyone still read Harold Robbins? His novels are said to have sold more than 750 million copies. In the 1960s, no airport bookstall was complete without a selection of his unashamedly trashy blockbusters. Many of them were filmed and often with surprisingly classy casts. Remember Where Love Has Gone (1964) with Bette Davis, or the hilarious The Betsy (1977) with Laurence Olivier? The Carpetbaggers (1964) was among the most successful and has a rare screening on Talking Pictures TV this Saturday at 10pm. A thinly veiled account of Howard Hughes and the rise of the swashbuckling Hollywood studio moguls, the cast includes George Peppard, Carroll Baker and a touching Alan Ladd in his final screen performance as cowboy star Nevada Smith.
Other weekend TV highlights include Frances McDormand’s scorching, Oscar-winning performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) on Channel 4, Saturday 18 July at 9.15pm; Pablo Larrain’s Jackie (2016) on Channel 4, Saturday 18 July 18th at 11.30pm, with Natalie Portman; and David Mackenzie’s brilliant, tangy, American thriller Hell Or High Water (2016) on Film 4, Sunday 19 July 19 at 9pm.

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