*** Mon Mar 18 12:13 PM
6 per week Film (The Guardian) 6 per week
Streaming: in praise of James Gray
The decade's greatest US film never to have been seen in UK cinemas has been released without fanfare on BFI Player Away from the Netflix publicity machine, online-only film releases are rarely advertised or visibly scheduled in the same way cinema releases or even DVDs are. Some of the best ones come my way by word of mouth, or entirely by chance. So it was only from a friend's tip last week that I learned that a title whose UK release I've been waiting years for has recently, quietly slipped into the streaming realm - available via the BFI Player, among other outlets.
Mar 18 8:00AM Guardian-Film

When true crime films prove to be guilty themselves
As Netflix launches a series on the case of Madeleine McCann, how can we balance viewers' appetites for the fast-growing genre against concern for victims? Who is interested in true crime? One imagines a furtive audience of sad saps and sadists, trench-coated lurkers and wan shut-ins. So wrote Lorna Scott Fox a decade ago in an article for The Nation, which is quoted in Covering Darkness, Neil Root's just-published exploration of the genre. They were both writing about authors of true crime books but the same could be asked of audiences for a new wave of television and film documentaries dealing with some of our grimmest cases.
Mar 17 7:00AM Guardian-Film

One Red Nose Day and a Wedding review - Is it still funny? I hadn't noticed
Twenty-five years after the release of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Richard Curtis's well-intentioned short sequel for Comic Relief gave rise to no laughs but some genuine pathos It was every bit as saccharine and self-indulgent and toe-curling as we expected, but the unexpectedly touching vignette from Hugh Grant as the bewildered-but-beaming parent made this an amiable enough trip down memory lane. If Richard Curtis ever wants to do his own remake of Father of the Bride Grant is his man. The set-up was that Charles (Grant) and his partner Carrie (a close-to-non-speaking cameo for Andie MacDowell) have a daughter (Lily James) who is adorably marrying the daughter of Charles's old friend, the one who was secretly in love with him the whole time: Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas).
Mar 15 11:26PM Guardian-Film

What Men Want review - Taraji P Henson puts her magical talent to use
The gender-flip premise doesn't always work in this remake of Nancy Meyers' romcom, but the film is elevated by its star In 2000, Nancy Meyers directed Mel Gibson in the romantic comedy What Women Want, about a sexist ad exec who after a bizarre electrocution accident becomes able to telepathically hear women's thoughts. This puts Mel in a position to answer Freud's notorious question and find out what they want. Which turns out to be, in a very real sense Mel.
Mar 15 12:00PM Guardian-Film

Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration review - heartfelt tribute to revered singer
From Chaka Khan to James Taylor, an all-star lineup perform some of Joni Mitchell's finest songs to mark her 75th birthday This event cinema presentation offers a chance to see one of the two tribute concerts held last November in Los Angeles to honour Joni Mitchell. The revered singer-songwriter, now 75, fully deserves to be feted by an eclectic lineup of artists channelling her music. Fans should be warned, however, that although she can be seen here in occasional cutaways enjoying the show - and younger versions of her pop up in archive clips, photos and painted self-portraits - because of ill health she no longer performs.
Mar 15 10:00AM Guardian-Film

I wish I had her cheeks': Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges on their family affair
She's Hollywood royalty - he's a rapidly rising star. In Ben Is Back, they play mother and drug-addicted son - and here talk Pretty Woman, Meghan Markle and sexual fluidity Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges are just pretending to play a mother and her drug-addicted son in the drama Ben Is Back, aren't they? The pair arrive at a bungalow in Santa Monica in clashing outfits, him in a blue-grey sweater and battered sneakers that used to belong to Shia LaBeouf, her in all black with a punky safety-pin necklace and rhinestone-studded boots. Those are also Shia's shoes, Hedges jokes.
Mar 15 6:00AM Guardian-Film

Daniel Mays: 'You're not getting a Liam Neeson soundbite out of me
The Essex-born actor, who stars in new film Fisherman's Friends, says he is firmly in the non-racist camp, and doesn't want to kill anyone. What else does he have to say? I'm going in soft with Daniel Mays and starting with an easy question. Has he ever thought about committing a random racist crime? Well, he is an actor, this is an interview, and it's taking place shortly after the publication of That Liam Neeson Interview.
Mar 14 5:14PM Guardian-Film

The Prodigy review - unscary demon-kid horror story
With tiresome jump scares, bad acting and untied plot strands, this tale of a disturbed child genius is a cliche-ridden stinker Some films are so uncompromisingly bad that their awfulness triggers a spasm of second-guessing and self-doubt. Is it irony? Is it comedy? Is it some form of pop-art primitivism? No. It's an unscary scary movie that quickly abandons the very thing that might have made it interesting (ie, the disturbing quality of childhood genius - which is to say, the thing in the title) in favour of tiresome jump scares, bad child acting, bad grownup acting and untied plot strands designed to facilitate a terrible franchise, like The Conjuring or Insidious.
Mar 14 1:00PM Guardian-Film

The Fight review - Jessica Hynes boxes clever in punchy drama
Hynes's debut as writer and director is an engaging story about a woman facing her daughter's fears - and her own - in the ring Everybody remembers being bullied at school, but nobody remembers being a bully. That maxim occurred to me during this stark, sober, flawed movie with which Jessica Hynes makes her worthwhile debut as writer-director. It feels like a very personal film, well acted by the A-list cast that Hynes has assembled: a cathartic meditation on the need to heal, the need to confront those who do wrong and to confront yourself when you've done wrong.
Mar 14 11:00AM Guardian-Film

90 Minutes review - football caper is a goalless draw
Produced by Rio Ferdinand, this story of a rough-and-tumble weekend league descends into an aimless kickabout A decade on from teaming Danny Dyer, 50 Cent and Brenda Blethyn for 2009's bargain-bin circler Dead Man Running, Rio Ferdinand re-enters the world of lowish-budget film production with a quasi-real time drama centred on those lads and lasses (mostly lads) drawn to the rough-and-tumble of the Hackney Marshes' weekend leagues. Yet despite the title's ticking clock, writer-director Simon Baker's mud-bound mosaic exhibits a shambling quality that suggests a slacker Slacker, passing the ball from character to character without ever quite doing anything especially interesting with it. An hour in, two spectators - in an echo of those ads for McCain's - start pondering whether it's chips for tea.
Mar 14 6:00AM Guardian-Film

Fisherman's Friends review - seaswept Britcom reels in the laughs
Inspired by a true story, this warm-hearted tale of a singing group from Cornwall is likable, if goofy Corny it may be - we've hardly got five minutes in before someone's used the phrase Davy Jones's locker - but this gentle, sweet-natured comedy has warmth and a certain X factor of likability, helped by big-hearted performances from a cast including Daniel Mays and Tuppence Middleton. It's inspired by the true story of the Fisherman's Friends, an all-male a capella folk singing group from Port Isaac in Cornwall who in the noughties became an unexpected hit for their genuine sea shanties. Danny (Mays) is a music executive who travels to Cornwall on a stag weekend with a bunch of his shallow London music PR mates - joining in with their inanities just to soothe his secret loneliness - and he's pranked by them into offering to sign the local sea shanty singers, led by Jim (James Purefoy), Jago (David Hayman) and Leadville (Dave Johns).
Mar 13 4:00PM Guardian-Film

Benjamin review - Simon Amstell's hilariously bittersweet romance
As a young film-maker's career teeters on the brink of disaster, a surprise love affair forces him to rethink the path to happiness Simon Amstell's funny, charming and overpoweringly personal comedy is a nervous romance, in which both parties get to be Annie Hall. Amstell creates a detailed ecosystem of in-jokes from the worlds of media and film, and from that cynical context he conjures a miraculously heartfelt love story, sweet and poignant in all its awkwardness. Colin Morgan plays Benjamin, a once promising young film-maker drowning in self-deprecation and self-doubt: the ironic humour of these personal modes is souring, now that actual failure may be on the cards.
Mar 13 2:00PM Guardian-Film

Girl review - trans teenager dreams of a dancer's life | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week
Victor Polster is outstanding as a trans 15-year-old auditioning for ballet school in Lukas Dhont's intense, emotional drama 'I don't want to be an 'example' - I want to be a girl. These are the emotional words of Lara, a young trans woman who dreams of being a ballerina and is about to transition surgically, speaking to her dad who has well-meaningly congratulated Lara on her exemplary courage. Lara doesn't want this representative burden.
Mar 13 12:00PM Guardian-Film

Captain Marvel comes to the rescue of the UK box office
Posting the biggest ever opening for a Marvel standalone debut, the hit has arrived just in time for cinema owners Posting the biggest weekend debut at UK cinemas since The Avengers: Infinity War nearly 11 months ago, Captain Marvel has arrived to rescue the sector from the box office doldrums. The superhero film has begun with 12.75m from 655 cinemas: the biggest ever three-day opening for a Marvel standalone debut.
Mar 12 11:42AM Guardian-Film

The Day Shall Come review - Chris Morris returns with wild farce
The mysterious writer-director travels to Miami for a short but sharp comedy about an idealistic preacher targeted by the FBI In the nine years since the release of Four Lions, Chris Morris's incendiary feature film debut, his absence from both big and small screens has felt like an ill-timed loss. As a director, he's taken on a handful of Veep episodes but as a writer, he's starved us of new material which, for anyone familiar with his long and storied career, has been a tough blow. Because throughout his work, from The Day Today to Brass Eye to Nathan Barley, he's perfected a brand of cultural and political commentary that's both uniquely incisive and uniquely silly and given the world's increasingly expedited scramble to the bottom, his outlook is needed now more than ever.
Mar 12 12:57AM Guardian-Film

Us review - Jordan Peele's brash and brilliant beach holiday horror
Peele's follow-up to Get Out is a superb doppelganger satire of the American dream, with Lupita Nyong'o delivering a magnificent performance An almost erotic surge of dread powers this brash and spectacular new horror-comedy from Jordan Peele, right from its ineffably creepy opening. It's a satirical doppelgnger nightmare of the American Way, a horrified double-take in the mirror of certainty, a realisation that the corroborative image of happiness and prosperity you hoped to see has turned its back, like something by Magritte. And though this doesn't quite have the same lethal narrative discipline of Peele's debut masterpiece Get Out, with its drum-tight clarity and control, what it certainly does have is a magnificent lead performance from Lupita Nyong'o, who brings to it a basilisk stare of horror.
Mar 11 10:42PM Guardian-Film

Why auteurs find it hard to follow their debut
Just like the follow-up to Donnie Darko, David Robert Mitchell's Under the Silver Lake fails to live up to its acclaimed predecessor It Follows was a tough act to follow. David Robert Mitchell's magnificently scary teen saga was one of the best horrors of recent years, the sort of movie that's heralded as the arrival of a major new talent. Now Mitchell returns with Under the Silver Lake, and the collective response so far has ranged from meh to huh? In the music industry, they would call it difficult second album syndrome, but a similar condition seems to afflict film-makers returning after a breakthrough hit.
Mar 11 10:00AM Guardian-Film

Streaming: in search of Stanley Donen
Many of the late, great director's films remain unavailable to watch online, but that still leaves plenty of gems Phrases like end of an era are routinely thrown about when a luminary in their field dies at a ripe old age, but for film lovers, the sentiment hit harder than usual with the passing of Stanley Donen last month. At 94, 20 years on from his final, made-for-TV film (Love Letters), the director of Singin' in the Rain truly seemed about the last of the golden age masters. As artful a craftsman as ever existed of pure, candy-bright Hollywood entertainment, he outlived almost all the stars whose images he fixed most gorgeously on celluloid.
Mar 11 8:00AM Guardian-Film

The Highwaymen review - Netflix take on Bonnie and Clyde is criminally bad
Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson star as the cops who took down the infamous duo in an odious and dimwitted thriller It was French New Wave great Jean-Luc Godard who memorably mused that in order to criticize a movie, you must make another movie. Now, under this precise principle, Netflix's new period piece The Highwaymen has arrived to set the record straight about Arthur Penn's 1967 take on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde. After 50 years vaunted as a masterpiece of New Hollywood film-making and 60s zeitgeist, it's finally getting taken down a peg, courtesy of some fogeyish cop-aganda furious that the world won't follow its moral code.
Mar 11 1:30AM Guardian-Film

Long Shot review - Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen dazzle in unlikely rom-com
A restrained politician falls for an outlandish journalist in a crowd-pleasing comedy led by two standout performances In past SXSW festivals, Seth Rogen has had audiences at Austin's Paramount Theater in hysterics, debuting work-in-progress cuts of his salacious cartoon Sausage Party, then the wild comedy-biopic The Disaster Artist. This year, he's done it again with the world premiere of Long Shot, a romantic comedy spiked with political parody. Related: Triple Frontier review - military vets steal big in solid Netflix action thriller Continue reading.
Mar 10 4:41PM Guardian-Film