Stay-At-Home Seven

The first in a new weekly feature recommending films to watch from your couch

by Amber Wilkinson

The Endless Trench
The Endless Trench Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival
In response to our readers having to spend a lot more time in their own homes as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, this is the first of what will become a weekly feature recommending things you can watch on UK television or on streaming services. Going forward, we're hoping we might have some themed weeks - and if you have any suggestions, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter. But we're getting the ball rolling with a general set of recommendations for the week ahead through to Sunday night. We're also including a bonus short at the end.

The Endless Trench (La Trinchera Infinita), streaming on Netflix

If you think self-isolating for a few weeks sounds tough, this film about the men who were forced to hide from Franco's fascists after the Civil War will put it in perspective. Some of these men spent decades in tiny hidden rooms within their own home. Antonio de la Torre stars in this fictional retelling alongside Belén Cuesta as a newly married couple Higinio and Rosa at the start of the film, who find their relationship tested by Higinio's self-incarceration. A moving portrait of the real-life situation for many under Franco's years of oppression. Read the full review.

Trolls, streaming on BBC iPlayer until Sunday

A spin-off from a small plastic toy with a sprout of spiky hair might not sound like a recipe for success - but this animated tale, featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, is a dose of sunshine. The trolls have, thankfully, not faced a virus threat as they're all about those fuzzy feelings - except for Branch (Timberlake). He is worried a party that is being organised will attract the unwanted attentions of the miserable Bergens, who think eating a troll will bring them happiness. When a chef swipes a handful of the cheerful trolls, a rescue mission is organised. Sweet without being saccharine and with a soundtrack that blends classics with modern remixes, it's a chance to catch up with these sparkly souls ahead of next month's release of sequel Trolls World Tour. Read the full review.

The Smallest Show On Earth, Talking Pictures TV (Freeview Channel 81), Friday, March 19, 10pm

Eccentricity is to the fore in this comedy from Basil Dearden, who is perhaps best known for his more serious films Victim and The Captive Heart. It stars real-life husband and wife Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna as a couple who inherit a fleapit cinema from a long-lost uncle complete with its off-beat staff. The story - their little cinema facing competition from the neighbouring establishment - may be familiar, but the cast is packed to the rafters with British talent from the era, including Margaret Rutherford, Peter Sellers and Leslie Phillips. Read the full review.

Apollo 11, streaming on Netflix

This award-winning documentary about the landmark 1969 space mission is carefully crafted entirely from archival footage - some of which had not been seen before. Director Todd Miller takes us through the mission from beginning to end. Even though we all know what happened, there's genuine tension generated from seeing it play out in real time, as the Eagle lunar lander heads out for the Moon. The film also features launch and recovery footage that offers not only an insight into the launch but also into the period, as we see those who gathered to watch the historic moment. Read the full review.

Blinded By The Light, streaming on Amazon Prime

Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha has crafted another crowdpleasing charmer - and this one comes from the heart. A lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, she found a kindred spirit in writer Sarfraz Manzoor, on whose memoir, Greetings From Bury Park, this is based. It tells the tale of Javed (Viveik Kaire), a teenage wannabe writer, who finds the music of The Boss is a revelation. Although set in the late-80s, the film speaks to many of the social problems that existed then and still endure today, although the emphasis is firmly on the upbeat, with plenty of Springsteen's music that carries you on the wave of Javed's enthusiasm. Read the full review.

I Wish (Kiseki), available for £3.99 on Curzon's Home Cinema service and at 1.20am on Film Four on Tuesday March 17

This 2011 film from Oscar-winning director Hirokazu  Kore-eda (Shoplifters) is a joy from start to finish. Koichi (Koki Maeda) and his younger brother Ryu (Ohshiro Maeda) find themselves split up when their mum and dad separate. When they hear that watching bullet trains pass one another can lead to a miracle being granted, they hatch a plan that will take them and their two sets of friends on a big adventure in the hopes of reuniting their family. Kore-eda is a master at catching the energy and hopefulness of childhood, helped here by the fact that the brothers are played by real-life siblings. Any director can make you cry tears of sadness but Kore-eda is that rare breed who also offers tears of joy. Read the full review. And if you get a taste for Kore-eda's ability to make you cry in five different ways, you can also catch After The Storm - about a man trying to reconnect with his ex-wife and son - for free, on BBC iPlayer until March 29.

The African Queen, Sony Movies Classic (Freeview Channel 50), 9pm on Saturday March 21

Sail away with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in this Oscar-winning classic directed by John Huston. They play a gin-loving river sailor and a prim missionary who end up on an odd couple river trip to try to sink a German gunboat. The slowburn romantic elements balance beautifully with the film's more comedic elements and its sense of adventure, as Bogart and Hepburn spark off one another. Shot by Jack Cardiff, who had a few tricks up his sleeve, including filling a camera lens with feathers to mimic a swarm of flies, it earned Bogart his first and only Oscar and marks the only time the pair were cast together. Read the full review

Finally, our short suggestion is to check out The Neighbor's Window, which deservedly saw Marshall Curry take home the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short at this year's Oscars. Featuring a terrific central performance from Maria Dizzia as one half a couple who become fascinated with their neighbour's lives, this is a well-realised world that builds to a satisfying emotional climax. Read our full review and watch the short below.

The Neighbors' Window - Oscar®-Winning Live Action Short Film from Marshall Curry Productions on Vimeo.

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