Something for the Weekend (29 to 31 May)

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Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter gives his update from the world of cinema, and his recommendations for this weekend and beyond.

What will it take to get us back inside the cinemas we love? Until that glorious day comes, everyone is trying to devise cunning solutions to the challenge. Should we have temperature checks at the door? There might be unexplained variations depending on the film. The Sound Of Music would be fine but 50 Shades Of Grey? Body Heat? Would you welcome a robot scanning your ticket and showing you to a seat? Certainly cuts out unnecessary human contact. In America, the one place where cinema seems to be thriving is the old-fashioned drive-in. It makes sense. You drive to an open public space, remain in the safety of your vehicle and watch a film. In recent days three drive-in venues have been announced for London this summer. Food is ordered using a mobile app, cars are kept two metres apart and tickets are scanned through a closed car window. Everything is designed to ensure a no-contact experience. Could this work in Glasgow? Should we all congregate in cars at George Square and watch a film projected against the City Chambers? I bet Allison is on it already. Until then, here are some no-contact recommendations for the coming weekend.

Mike Wallace Is Here (15)

Dogwoof releasing
Available to watch on: Curzon Home Cinema and digital platforms

Do British audiences remember Mike Wallace? You might recall that he was played by Christopher Plummer in Michael Mann’s The Insider. There was a time when Wallace was considered the most feared reporter in America. Abrasive, hard-hitting, he pulled no punches and took no prisoners. During his years with 60 Minutes, he interviewed anyone who mattered from Vladimir Putin to Eleanor Roosevelt, Ayatollah Khomeini to the young Donald Trump. Mike Wallace is Here has been deftly assembled from a wealth of archive footage to tell Wallace’s story and how it reflects the changing landscape of American television journalism. The ratings success of 60 Minutes turned news into big business. Did commercial concerns encourage timidity when it came time to speaking truth to power? An intelligent, compelling documentary that raises important questions. 

The Last Full Measure (12)

Parkland releasing
Available to watch on all major digital platforms from Monday

True events are transformed into a sentimental tearjerker in The Last Full Measure. Todd Robinson’s workmanlike drama might serve as a modest appetiser for Spike Lee’s forthcoming Da 5 Bloods (Netflix from 12 June 12) as it too focuses on the legacy of Vietnam. In 1999, ambitious Washington bureaucrat Sebastian Stan (Captain America) reluctantly investigates a request to upgrade the decoration posthumously awarded to a heroic American infantryman in 1966. The film offers a mosaic of flashbacks as he interviews the survivors of a tragic mission. What keeps it on track is a rock-solid cast of heavyweight character actors that includes William Hurt, Samuel L Jackson, Christopher Plummer, John Savage and the late Peter Fonda.

We Are One: A Global Film Festival

Available to watch at until 7 June 

Missing that Film Festival experience? 21 major festivals from Cannes to Toronto have pooled resources to co-curate an online event that runs exclusively on YouTube. There are films and music sessions, but the most appealing element might be the interviews being made available including a conversation with John Waters from the 2019 Locarno Film Festival, one with Zhang Ziyi from the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and one with Claire Denis from Berlin earlier this year. 
Films on offer include documentaries Beautiful Things (2017) and Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan Records (2018) plus silent epic Shiraz: A Romance Of India (1928). Each event is free and includes a donate button to support various institutions fighting the Covid-19 pandemic including the World Health Organisation. 

Clint Eastwood At 90

It will not have escaped your attention that the mighty Clint Eastwood turns 90 this Sunday. In different circumstances I’m sure GFT would have marked the occasion. If you are looking to raise a glass or twirl a six-shooter in his honour then a number of channels are screening some of Clint’s finest work. The Paramount Network have Two Mules For Sister Sara (1969) on Saturday 30 May at 9pm, and the Sergio Leone epic The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) on Sunday at 9pm. Sky Cinema Greats devotes a large part of the big day to Clint with screenings of his Oscar-winning Western classic Unforgiven (1992) at 4.45pm, followed by recent starring roles in Gran Torino (2008) at 7pm, and The Mule (2018) at 9pm. If you need a Dirty Harry title to make your day then TCM obliges with Sudden Impact (1983) at 9.45pm on Sunday. Happy birthday Clint. 

Also Showing...

Everyone could use a good laugh about now and there are some classic comedies coming our way. On Saturday 30 May, BBC2 is screening Some Like It Hot (1959) at 3.40pm - that peerless Roaring Twenties romp with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and an Oscar-nominated Jack Lemmon. Down the years I met and interviewed two members of that magical trio. Not Marilyn sadly but Jack and Tony could not have been more entertaining company.
MUBI are also promising joy unconfined with a mini focus on the Marx Brothers. Animal Crackers (1930) is available on the service from 2 June, with Duck Soup (1933) following from 3 June. Hooray for Captain Spaulding!
Finally, I know how much GFT audiences love a good film noir. Look no further this weekend than Talking Pictures TV who have a rare screening of I Walk Alone (1948) on Saturday 30 May 30 at 9.30pm. The first film to team Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas is a feisty little thriller with the duo as Prohibition rum-runners. Lancaster is the one who serves jail time whilst Douglas prospers in his absence. Then comes the day of reckoning. Elizabeth Scott co-stars.

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