Something for the Weekend (24 - 26 July)


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Parasite

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

How do you solve a problem like Tenet? Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated blockbuster always seemed designed to set the summer box office alight. Earlier this week, its latest American opening date was dropped. Warner Brothers now appear to be plotting a release that would allow some areas of the world to devour the film ahead of America. It makes a lot of sense given that two-thirds of the global box office is likely to come from outside of North America. It would also throw a lifeline to cinemas that are desperate for big commercial titles to draw audiences back over the door. 

Maybe it is time to challenge the traditional pattern of day-and-date global releases or American-led schedules in search of something that works for lucrative individual markets. Equally, it seems the perfect moment for local films to claim the limelight. Comedy is king in French cinemas at the moment where the Juliette Binoche romp How To Be A Good Wife has taken more than $5million and the old-fashioned farce 10 Jours Sans Maman (10 Days Without Mum) has earned close to $10million. Maybe some swashbuckling UK distributors should take note and offer up some shiny new British crowdpleasers to hungry cinema-goers. Until then, here are some home comforts to share this weekend.

Saint Frances

Vertigo releasing
Available to watch: selected cinemas from 24 July.

If you have been missing hugs these last few months then Saint Frances might be the next best thing. Writer/star Kelly O’Sullivan has created a film on the messy business of life that is smart, sardonic and completely heart-melting. Bridget (O’Sullivan) is 34 and is feeling like an underachiever. Should she not have made some mark on the world by now? Is the clock ticking if she plans to have children? Does she want to have children? One summer, an older lesbian couple hire her to babysit their daughter Frances, played by adorable scene-stealer Ramona Edith Williams. Frances is 6 going on 30 and would be quite a handful for Mary Poppins, never mind Bridget. As the summer unfolds, an unlikely bond develops that will leave Bridget feeling older and wiser. Saint Frances is funny and believable, touching lightly on topics from abortion to the pressure to procreate, and the need for everyone to just be a lot nicer to each other. It is also very frank about the many challenges of menstruation. Winner of the Audience Award and a Special Jury prize at SXSW, this fantastic film is well worth seeking out. 

Alice

Eureka Entertainment releasing
Available to watch: Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, Amazon Prime Video, or via Eureka Entertainment where you can receive a 10% discount and a portion of ticket price goes to GFT from 24 July.

Alice is the kind of film that banishes initial reservations to blossom into a compelling white knuckle human drama. Josephine Mackerras’ powerful, French language debut feature showcases a vibrant central performance from Emilie Piponnier. Alice’s picture perfect world collapses when her husband Francois (Martin Swabey) walks out. Their joint account is empty, there is a foreclosure notice on their home and debts of close to 80,000€. The mystery of what has happened is quickly revealed. Alice’s desperate solution is to become an escort. Clients are lost souls and emotional wrecks. There is little sense of danger in her work. Sex work seems to bring her liberation and empowerment. Fortunately, things are more complex than that. What subsequently unfolds is a tense, knotty tale of moral dilemmas, double standards, hypocrisy and a husband who emerges as a sorry specimen of toxic masculinity. Recommended.

Parasite: black and white edition

Curzon releasing
Available to watch: Curzon Home Cinema from 24 July

This year’s Glasgow Film Festival provided the first chance for UK audiences to watch the black and white version of Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winner. Now everyone else can savour the delights of the inky blacks and stark whites that lend the film the air of film noir and the look of a graphic novel. You know the story by now of how a devious clan worm their way into the confidence of, and employment by, the ultra-wealthy Park family who reside in the most desirable modern home. What follows is a gripping, perfectly mixed blend of thriller, savage social satire and pitch black comedy.

Coincoin And The Extra Humans

New Wave releasing
Available to watch: Curzon Home Cinema from 24 July.

P’tit Quinquin (2014) proved that Bruno Dumont has a sense of humour. It might be strange, but he does have one. The sequel, which screened at GFF 2019, returns to the Opal Coast region in northern France for a second helping of absurdist nonsense and sharp political commentary. Quinquin (Alane Delhaye) is now a surly teenager called Coincoin. Eccentric police inspector Van Der Weyden (Berard Pruvost) is still solving strange cases and marvelling at the mysteries of the modern world. The case this time involves an epidemic of extra-terrestrial excrement that comes tumbling from the heavens. Curiouser and curiouser. 

Also showing...

Talking Pictures TV spoils us this weekend with an abundance of vintage titles both beloved and unfamiliar. Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn are a match made in heaven for the sublime musical Funny Face (1957) on Sunday 26 July at 6.25pm, which looks gorgeous and has a string of knockout numbers from 'Think Pink' to 'Bonjour Paree'. Before that you can see an Oscar-nominated Kirk Douglas as a ruthless prizefighter in Champion (1949) on Saturday 25 July at 1.40pm, and mob romance The Black Orchid (1959) on Saturday 25 July at 7.10pm, co-starring Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn. 

Other television highlights this weekend include Steven Spielberg’s compelling political thriller The Post (2017) on Channel 4, Saturday 25 July at 9.15pm; and the Oscar-winning Asghar Farhadi drama The Salesman (2016) on BBC2, Sunday 26 July at 12.10am.


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