FILM OF THE WEEK
Disobedience (2017) is set in the heart of the North London Jewish community. Ronit, played by Rachel Weisz, who also found the property and produced the film, is the renegade daughter of a well-loved Rav, or senior rabbi. She has been exiled, or self-exiled, to New York, following an indiscretion with another young woman in the congregation. When she returns for the Rav’s funeral, she finds the other woman, Esti (Rachel McAdams), has moved on and into a marriage with Dovid (Allessandro Nivola), one of the Rav’s most ardent followers. But passion is not easily buried.
This is a subtle, compassionate film, thoughtfully directed by the Chilean, Sebastián Leilo, who brought us Gloria and A Fantastic Woman, which CFS showed in 2018/19. All three leads give wonderfully sensitive performances as they navigate conflicts of love, marriage and religious observation. Disobedience is on Film4 on Tuesday (11/8) at 21:00.
In World Cinema, meanwhile, Film4 brings us Northwest, a youth crime drama set in contemporary multi-cultural Denmark. Two brothers make ends meet selling stolen goods until more powerful gangsters move into their patch, bringing drugs and prostitution. Things soon escalate. That’s on Monday (10/8) at 01:35.
On Tuesday (11/8) at 16:10, Sony Action has Das Boot (1981), the acclaimed WWII U-boat drama that subsequently spawned a TV series, still running somewhere. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson and starring Jürgen Prochnow as the submarine’s commander, it is a tense and claustrophobic story of terror under the seas during the 1942 Battle of the Atlantic.
Also on Sony Action, on Wednesday (12/8) at 17:05, is Hannibal (1960), an Italian sword-and-sandal flick about the Carthaginian general of that name crossing the Alps with his vast energy. Victor Mature and several elephants star.
Fans of family animé will enjoy Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017). From a British story, and set in England, this was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, formerly with the acclaimed Studio Ghibli. That’s on Film4 on on Thursday (13/8) at 12:45. On the same day at 17:05, Sony Action hasThe Bridge (1969), a Yugoslavian drama about Partisans blowing up a bridge to halt the advance of German forces from Greece.
Then on Friday (14/8) at 00:45, Film4 has Graduation (2016), an excellent Romanian film, about Romeo, a doctor in a small town in Transylvania whose 18-year-old daughter wants to study in the UK. When she is assaulted the day before taking her final exams, Romeo is faced with moral conflicts as he tries to fulfil her ambitions. We showed this intense drama, directed by Cristian Mungiu, in 2017/18.
Stephen Ilott’s picks this week, aside from Disobedience, start with The Revenant (2015), the survival drama with Leonardo DiCaprio left for dead in the bleak winter wilderness of 1820s America. Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who previously brought us 21 Grams, Babel and Birdman. That’s on BBC2 on Saturday (8/8) at 21:00 and subsequently on iPlayer. On the same night, at 22:00, Talking Pictures has Cry the Beloved Country (1952), from the heartbreaking Alan Paton novel about apartheid South Africa. It stars Canada Lee, Charles Carson and a young Sidney Poitier. On Sunday (9/8) at 15:00, Sony Movies has Moonrise Kingdom (2012), a Wes Anderson comedy-drama about a boy and girl in 1960s New England, fleeing their small town while the locals pursue them. It boasts a starry cast, including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. On Tuesday (11/8) at 09:30, Talking Pictures has Stephen’s final selection, Scarlet Street (1945), a Fritz Lang noir thriller with Edward G. Robinson.
Other notable films include Filth (2013), from the novel by Irvine Welsh and starring James McAvoy and Jamie Bell. A corrupt, drug-addicted cop starts to lose his mind as he sets himself against his colleagues. That’s on Saturday (8/8) on Channel 4 at 00:00. The same day, Film4 has The Imitation Game (2014), with Benedict Cumberbatch as doomed genius Alan Turing. That’s at 18:45. At 21:00, Channel 4 has Battle of the Sexes, a rather good little film about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and a chancer called Bobby Riggs. With Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the lead roles.
Moving on to Sunday, BBC1 has Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh’s suitably flamboyant biopic of Liberace, starring an unlikely Michael Douglas in the lead role. That’s at 00.05 and subsequently on iPlayer. Paramount has Open Range (2003), Kevin Costner’s Western, at 18:15; and BBC1 has Saving Mr. Banks, about the rocky relationship between Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and Walt Disney, at 22:30 and subsequently on iPlayer.
On Monday (10/8) at 00:35, Channel 4 has The Florida Project (2017), a downbeat but insightful drama about children living in a scuzzy motel in the shadow of Disneyworld. A contemporary America not often seen on film.
On Tuesday (11/8) at 01:50, Film4 offers another chance to see Tangerine (2015), a Hollywood-set indie comedy-drama about hookers and pimps. Shot entirely on iPhone 5s, it is an extraordinary technical achievement.
On Wednesday (12/8) at 01:35, Film4 has Alexander Payne’s delightful Nebraska (2013), starring Bruce Dern as an old man who makes a long road trip to collect a million-dollar sweepstake prize that doesn’t really exist. This was our Christmas film in 2014/15 and very popular too.
When Her came out in 2013, it was a clever but far-fetched sci-fi film about a depressed man who falls in love with a computer operating system with a seductive female voice. Don’t let Alexa listen. She might get ideas. That’s on Channel 4 on Thursday (13/8) at 01:55.
Turning now to the Oldies, Talking Pictures has Come Back, Little Sheba from 1952. Burt Lancaster is a recovering alcoholic. Shirley Booth is his downtrodden wife. They take in an attractive lodger and trouble follows. That’s on Saturday (8/8) at 20:00. On Monday (10/8) at 15:05, Sony Action has Tunes of Glory (1960), a drama about personal conflict between two army officers in the aftermath of WWII, starring Alec Guinness, John Mills and Susannah York. Edward Scissorhands (1990) needs no introduction. That’s on Film4 on Wednesday (12/8) at 11:00. Finally, on Friday (14/8) at 18:30, the reliable Talking Pictures has Spring and Port Wine (1970), a belated kitchen-sink drama whose cast, led by James Mason, Diana Coupland and Hannah Gordon, seems to include most of the popular actors of the day.
Enjoy your week’s viewing.
John Morrish and Stephen Ilott