Something for the Weekend (8 - 11 May)


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Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter picks the best films to watch this weekend and beyond, and gives an update on opinions from the cinema world on when theatres might be able to re-open...

Is there a glimmer of light at the end of the darkened cinema tunnel? On Monday, Ireland gave the green light for cinemas there to re-open on August 10. Cinemas in Hong Kong are scheduled to open again today (8 May). American cinema chains seem to have set their sights on mid-July and the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is still due to happen on 17 July. Someone recently tweeted that nobody is doing more to get cinemas re-opened than Christopher Nolan. Someone else replied: “Is he working on a vaccine?”

Whenever it is safe and permitted to throw open the doors in Scotland, you know that Glasgow Film Theatre will be right there for you. Until then, here are some recommendations from the wonderful array of new titles and fresh initiatives available this week.

The Whistlers (15)

Curzon releasing
Available to watch on: Curzon Home Cinema

The Whistlers was much admired at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival and should have been heading into cinemas this week. Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu has made a stylish, pulpy European thriller filled with corrupt cops, double-dealing crooks and entrancing femme fatales. You almost expect Robert Mitchum to saunter into frame, turning up the collar of his outsize trenchcoat. Vlad Ivanov is the cop embroiled in a daring plan to capture a Bucharest businessman and uncover millions in hidden cash. This requires a trip to the Canary Islands and a crash-course in a secret whistling language used to communicate by the local shepherds. Unfolding in a mosaic of flashbacks, this is classic, hardboiled film noir.

BFI Japan 2020 

Available to watch on: BFI Player (from Monday 11 May)
CineCard members can access complimentary 6 weeks of subscription to BFI Player, for a limited time. More info here.

The BFI had planned a massive, nationwide celebration of Japanese cinema to run from May to October this year. Some of that may still happen, but for now they have moved key elements to the BFI Player where the first two curated seasons will be available from Monday. A mouthwatering 21 titles are featured in their Akira Kurosawa focus including the groundbreaking Rashomon (1950), his thrilling interpretation of Macbeth in Throne Of Blood (1957), and personal favourite Stray Dog (1949), a tangy Tokyo-set police thriller with all the pace and verve of a Warner Brothers crime yarn. The other May season focuses on Japanese classics and includes a number of films from Mikio Naruse including Late Chrysanthemums (1954) and When A Woman Ascends The Stairs (1960). I can't think of a better way to get full value from your BFI Player membership.  

In Search of Greatness

Available to watch on: Amazon Prime, iTunes and NOW TV

How can someone skip through 'P.E. With Joe' without breaking a bead of sweat whilst others are reduced to a red-faced, exhausted heap? Just asking for a friend you understand. The latest documentary from Red Army director Gabe Polsky examines what makes an elite athlete. Lengthy interviews with football great Pele, ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzsky, and NFL player Jerry Rice form the backbone of a very male-centric focus. Their engaging, self-deprecating reflections on former glories and some attractive archive footage are the draw for sports fans. Everyone can take comfort from the conclusion that individual passion and drive matters much more than the appliance of any sporting science.

The 1000 Eyes of Dr Mabuse (12)

Eureka Entertainment releasing.
Available to watch on: Blu-Ray (released 11 May)

Metropolis director Fritz Lang ended his career back in Germany with this entertaining malarkey. Revisiting the fiendish criminal mastermind of his Weimar-era films, Lang seems to be enjoying himself with this black and white 1960 thriller, executed in the style of an early graphic novel. There are echoes of the Bond films to come with a Cold War romp marked by a megalomaniac villain, lethal gizmos, eye-catching set design, hi-tech surveillance cameras, and a cast that includes future Goldfinger star Gert Frobe as a truculent police inspector. Not the most glorious swansong, but good fun.

Also Showing...

Some classic movie channels keep rotating the same familiar titles. We all love The Searchers (1956) but don’t feel the need to watch it every week. Perhaps that’s why we so cherish Talking Pictures TV ( Virgin 445, Freeview 81, Sky 328) and its weekly treasure trove of British greats and unsung gems. 

Pick of the week has to be the Nicolas Roeg/David Bowie collaboration on The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) on 9 May at 9.50pm. Great temptations beckoning me to the sofa include Scotland Yard Investigator (1945) on 13 May 13 at 11.30am, which pits C. Aubrey Smith against Erich Von Stroheim in a dastardly wartime plot to steal the Mona Lisa, and the chance to see a post-Baby Jane Bette Davis in the restrained Hammer chiller The Nanny (1965) also on 13 May at 10.05pm.

Earlier in the year GFT marked the centenary of the birth of Federico Fellini. If you missed some of the titles, MUBI is stepping into the breach with their own season. I’m a fan of the less extravagant Fellini works and love I Vitelloni (on MUBI from 11 May), an influential tale of childhood friends and the forces that will inevitably pull them apart. La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2 are rightly lauded as landmarks of world cinema, but I Vitelloni could just be his best film. Let me know what you think.


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