Border by Iranian-Danish director Ali Abbasi Photo: Meta Spark&Kärnfilm AB 2018
The Amazing Mr Blunden, Talking Pictures (Freeview, Channel 81), today, April13, 6pm and available to rent on BFI player
A bit of retro entertainment for Easter Monday, courtesy of this adaptation by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang star Lionel Jeffries. Two years after he received plaudits for The Railway Children, he took on Antonia Barber's The Ghosts, which sees a pair of siblings find ghostly adventures after their mother becomes a caretaker at solicitor's country pile. There's plenty of eerie and fun adventure but also an emotional resonance to this tale of loss and redemption. It's easy to see why Mark Gatiss cited it as a neglected classic on Radio 4. Read the full review here.
The Fall Of The House Of Usher, from Cinémathèque Francais
While we're in retro mode, the Cinémathèque Francais is doing its bit to keep us entertained during lockdown. It's publishing a film from its archive on its Henri digital platform each night. Among them, is a selection of films from Jean Epstein, including this loose Edgar Allen Poe adaptation about an aristocrat who is obsessively painting his increasingly weak wife, which is one of the first feature-length horror films. Co-written by Luis Buñuel, the film is packed with striking imagery that was hugely innovative at the time and retains much of its atmospheric potency today. Other films available, include Epstein's The Three-Sided Mirror, with more being added daily. Read the full review here.
Hustlers, free on Amazon Prime and available to rent via Google Play
Although she did receive a Golden Globe nomination, Jennifer Lopez should easily have snagged an Oscar nod for her role in Lorene Scafaria's well-written adaptation of a New Yorker story charting a complex scam orchestrated by a group of strippers. She places the brassy Ramona, who becomes the brains behind a criminal outfit who plot to fleece their clientelle. The focus is on how new girl on the scene Destiny (Constance Wu) becomes swept up in the scam, with Scafaria cleverly moivng back and forth in time so that we see the consequences and fallout as well as the original con - for both the perpetrators and, importantly, the victims. Glossy and gripping but never voyeuristic, Scafaria's film peforms a clever dance. Read the full review here.
Three Identical Strangers, Netflix
If The Tiger King left you grabbing for your jaw as it kept on dropping - wait till you catch this documentary from British director Tim Wardle. It starts from a place of crazy coincidence and spirals from there to tell the tale of triplets, who only discovered one another existed when they went off to college. Wardle recounts the tale of the men, Bobby Shafran, David Kellman and Eddy Galland from the first media sensation of them finding one another to the increasingly murky world of the adoption agency that had an ulterior motive for sending them to homes with radically different social demographics. Gripping and chilling, Wardle keeps things personal, while never losing sight of the wider implications. You can read the full review here and read what the composer Paul Saunderson told us about working on the film here
Blood From The Mummy's Tomb, Talking Pictures TV, Thursday, April 16, 12.05am
Jennie Kermode writes: Adapted from Bram Stoker’s Jewel Of The Seven Stars, which also inspired Rachel Wesiz’s character in The Mummy, this spectacular piece of grand guignol is heavy on atmosphere and also features one of the strongest lead performances by a woman in any of Hammer’s works. Valerie Leon plays both the tough but good natured daughter of an ageing Egyptologist and the Ancient Egyptian queen who seeks to be reborn in her body. Far from the familiar story of a delicate young woman in peril, the film follows their gradual merging, something that the modern woman experiences as empowering, whilst various men try to save or control them. There’s a high camp aspect to much of what takes place, but some very simply constructed scenes are unexpectedly chilling, and the ending deliciously dark. This is Hammer at its very best. Read the full review here.
Border, Film4 (Freeview Channel 14), Friday, April 17, 11.20pm
This film from Danish-Iranian director Ali Abbasi is adapted from Let The Right One In author John Ajvide Lindqvist's short story and it shares the same ability of mixing the fantastical with the everyday in a concrete and often disturbing way. The story follows border guard Tina (Eve Melander, giving a hell of a performance beneath a ton of make-up), whose sense of smell makes her an asset when it comes to catching smugglers. A chance encounter with a man called Vore (Eero Milonof, also putting in sterling work) begins to open a world of secrets and the past to Tina. To say too much more would be to spoil the surprising strangeness of Abbasi's off-beat and beautifully shot film. The sort of unusual film the phrase "cult classic" was made for. Read the full review here.
Made In Dagenham, BBC iPlayer (until April 20) and Netflix
Directed by Nigel Cole, this drama is cut from the same kind of cloth as Brassed Off, Kinky Boots and the recent Military Wives - which is to say, a very sensible woollen sort of fabric that's cosy and familiar. It might be conservative with a small 'c' but this story of women workers at a Ford plant battling for equal pay is as radical as it comes. The cast runs strong and deep and includes Sally Hawkins, before she started picking up Oscar nominations, the ever-reliable Geraldine James and the late, great Bob Hoskins. Miranda Richardson also deserves a special shout-out for her excellent portrayal of Barbara Castle. Read the full review here.
This week's streaming short is Meshes Of The Afternoon. Maya Deren's seminal slice of surrealism had a soundtrack added by her third husband Teiji It? 16 years after the short was made but I rather like this one from Seaming that was commissioned by the Birds Eye View festival back in 2011. Other soundtracks are available, mute the lot and play without or watch it with a succession of different music, it certainly bears up to multiple viewings.