Stay-At-Home Seven: April 6-11

This week's dose of films to catch on TV and UK streaming services

by Amber Wilkinson

Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in Alfred Hitchock's Rebecca
Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in Alfred Hitchock's Rebecca Photo: Criterion Collection
It's week four of our Stay-At-Home Seven - you can read week three here plus our recent Streaming Spotlight on Spain. We're going to be making the Spotlight a regular feature, too,  so don't forget to let us know on Facebook or Twitter if there's any specific subject or genre you'd like us to cover in future weeks.

Vivarium, Curzon Home Cinema, £4.99, Tuesday, April 7

Curzon Home Entertainment is continuing its interactive screenings this week, with star Jesse Eisenberg among the talent dropping in to talk about Lorcan Finnegan's high-concept sci-fi film that sees a couple trapped on a suburban estate. Eisenberg stars alongside Imogen Poots in this slow-build film that satirises the domestic dream. Our reviewer Jennie Kermode wrote: "Finnegan never allows us to lose sight of the absurdity of the situation, nor of the real life absurdities that it points up." Read the full review here.

The live Q&A with Eisenberg and Finnegan will begin at 8.30pm (GMT), with viewers invited to watch the film together from 6.45pm, although it is already available on the service

My Life As A Courgette, Film4 (Freeview Channel 14) Tuesday, April 7, 1.05am

Another week and another graveyard shift gem from Film4 - which persists in putting great stuff, even like this one for kids, on at all hours. First-time director Claude Barras spent 14 years getting this tale of a boy sent to a group home after is mum's death from page to stop-motion animation but it was well worth it. He's helped enormously by a nuanced script by, among other people, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire filmmaker Celine Sciamma, who has long had a knack for offering insight into the lives of children and adolescents (Water Lilies, Tomboy, Girlhood). Courgette is the preferred nickname of the troubled kid at the heart of the film. Barras never makes light of his or any of the other kids' trauma, instead gradually showing how things change for the better, complete with a good dollop of 'rude' humour for youngsters (and those who still in touch with their inner nine-year-old) to enjoy. Read our full review here.

Timbuktu, BBC iPlayer, until Monday, May 5

Abderrahmane Sissako's uncompromising consideration of the occupation of Timbuktu in Mali lost out in the Foreign Language Oscar race to Polish film Ida in 2015 but it would have been just as deserving of the accolade. It was briefly banned by the mayor in the wake of Charlie Hebdo in the Parisian suburb of Villiers-sur-Marne - a ridiculous move given that it is a searing consideration of the effects of extremist Islamist rule. Sissako shows foreign Jihadists taking over the city and enforcing draconian law in all its terrifying horror, while holding their absurdity and hypocrisy up to the light. Read our full review here.

Prisoners, Netflix

Don't be put off by the 2.5-hour running time of Denis Villeneuve's psychological thriller - you'll be too busy gripping the arms of your chair to look at your watch. Hugh Jackman stars as a carpenter who becomes increasingly predictable when his six-year-old daughter is abducted and the police seem to be dragging their heels when it comes to tackling the man (Paul Dano) he believes has done the deed. Writer Aaron Guzikowski creates a moral maze, where the judgement of all the characters, including police detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), is called into question and Villeneuve doesn't let the tension slacken for a second. Read our full review here

Blackfish, Netflix

If you've ever wondered whether a documentary can actually change something - you need look no further than Gabriela Cowperthwaite's BAFTA-nominated film. Her comprehensive take down of SeaWorld and other parks which keep whales in captivity focused on the plight of Tilikum, who himself a victim of circumstance, lived up to his 'killer' whale billing, even though his species are no threat to humans in the wild. Cowperthwaite gives chapter and verse on what happened to Tilikum, also shining a light on myths peddled by the parks and the lack of training given to those who work with the animals. As a result, SeaWorld took a major financial hit and has phased out orca 'shows' angling the brand much more towards education. This balanced film is a testimony to how effective well-researched campaigning documentaries can be. Read the full review here.

Rebecca, Talking Pictures TV (Freeview Channel 81), Wednesday, April 8, 6.20pm

Alfred Hitchock's only Best Picture Oscar winner is a masterclass in the slow creep of fear. The second of three films Hitch would adapt from Daphne Du Maurier books - after Jamaica Inn and before The Birds - he was forced to remain largely faithful to the source material by producer David O Selznick, in what was his first American film. Joan Fontaine - who would go on to win an Oscar the following year for Suspicion - puts in a gripping performance as the new wife of a widower (Laurence Olivier) who moves to his Manderlay mansion only to find herself living under the shadow of her predecessor. Equally impressive is Judith Anderson as sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers. Go to Manderlay - for the first time or again - and you won't regret it. Read the full review here.

Harpoon, Arrow Video Channel on Amazon or Apple TV

Arrow Video Channel announced this week that it is extending its trial period from seven days to 30, so viewers can take a look at its line-up for free. Normal subscription is £7.99 per month. Jennie Kermode writes: With deliciously droll narration from Brett Gelman, Rob Grant’s twisty little thriller takes the classic set-up of three people stranded together on a boat and carries it in directions you’ll never expect. Loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, but sharp and up to date, it introduces three characters you may sometimes struggle to sympathise wit but will find fascinating nonetheless. The performances are universally strong and the dialogue snappy. Old maritime superstitions collide with tangible violence and betrayal. the sun shines brightly and the comedy is as black as it gets. Made on a tiny budget, though you’d never know that to look at it, this is a film that really makes an impact. Read our full review here and see what writer/director Rob Grant told us about the film.

And this week's short film recommendation is three minutes of joy from Canada. Throat Singing In Kangirsuk, directed by Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland, had its premiere at Sundance Film Festival and is a celebration of an Inuit tradition. If it sparks your interest in indigenous filmmaking, then do make time to check out the National Film Board of Canada website, which is streaming a raft of short and feature-length films for free, including short Breaths, which also considers the throat singing tradition.

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We've recently been bringing you coverage of the Chattanooga Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival online selection.

Shortly before lockdown, we were at the New York Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, the Glasgow Film Festival, the Berlinale, Scottish feminist festival Femspectives, and Sundance in Utah.

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Visit our festivals section.


More competitions coming soon.