Secret Sofa, film TBC, Fridays, 7.30pm, see Secret Sofa for details
A little bit of a wild card choice for our "communal viewing" this week, but if you like to share the experience of cinemagoing - or fancy making a night of it - then this initiative by the creators of Secret Cinema might be for you. Running for the next seven weeks, the film of choice is announced on Tuesday - last week it was The Grand Budapest Hotel - the idea is to dress up, grab appropriate snacks and snifters and have a bit of fun with the collective experience of viewing the same film.
The Conversation, BBC iPlayer until May 18
Frances Ford Coppola was on a serious roll when he made this gripping psychological thriller between his Oscar-winning Godfathers. Its subject of surveillance is ever-green, while its anti-hero Harry Caul (Gene Hackman, at the top of his game here as a haunted surveillance expert whose troubled conscience drives the film) is also one for the ages. From the opening slow zoom sequence on the conversation of the title to the sound design from Walter Murch and the jazz-inflected score from David Shire, the craft is classy all round. Look out for Harrison Ford in an early role as a slimeball and a small and uncredited but noticeable appearance by Robert Duval. Read the full review here
Berberian Sound Studio, 4 on Demand until May 7
If you enjoyed the sound design of The Conversation, why not double-bill it with this more recent psychodrama from Peter Strickland, which sees a British sound technician brought to Italy in the Seventies to work on the sound effects for a gruesome horror film which begins to get under his skin. Like Coppola's film, this makes a virtue of its central character's introspection and Strickland - who has long had a fascination with autonomous sensory meridian response, which sees some people have a physical response to certain sounds - along with his sound editor Joakim Sundstrom really knows how to manipulate mood via what we can hear. If you're a gialli fan, then you'll also get a kick of spotting the various nods to the genre.
Missing Link, Netflix
Laika may be one of the smaller animations studios - but it has punched well above its weight since releasing 2009's Coraline, going on to be Oscar-nominated for Kubo And The Two Strings (both currently available to rent from Microsoft). This is its most recent charmer, which sees a famous explorer escort a sasquatch to Tibet in search of his kin. Hugh Jackman is a hoot as the egotistical explorer, while excellent support is provided by Zack Galifianakis as the sweetly literally minded Mr Link and Zoe Saldana as the smarter-than-both-of them Adelina, who also joins their quest. Funny and adventurous while cleverly tackling ideas of prejudice, it's family film with a lot of heart. Read the full review.
Get Out, Film4 (Freeview Channel 14), Friday, April 24, 9pm
If you missed this Oscar-winning horror film on release, now's the chance to catch up. Jordan Peele's whip-smart story follows a young African American man, who finds things taking a turn for the creepy when he pays a visit with his white girlfriend to her family's moneyed estate. There's plenty of social critique of race relations and the neo-liberal elite here but, importantly, Peele doesn't neglect the film's genre elements in the process. Daniel Kaluuya is compelling in the central role and there's terrific support from the likes of Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel and Catherine Keener. You'll never look at a teacup in quite the same way again. Read the full review.
American Factory, Netflix
This year's race for the documentary Oscar was hotly contested, with any of the nominees more than deserving. In the end, it's perhaps no surprise that this US film took the prize - but though it may have had 'home advantage' there is plenty to recommend about it. Steve Bognar and Julie Reichert's film follows the fortunes of workers at a former General Motors plant in Ohio after the factory is taken over by a Chinese billionaire. Touching on cultural issues and workplace rights that extend well beyond the US, this is a fascinating look at the impact of globalisation and automation in the workplace. Don't be put off by the almost two-hour running time, every minute is filled with something worth considering. Read the full review.
The Bling Ring, iPlayer, until May 10
If you enjoyed last week's Stay-At-Home Seven female-centric con film Hustlers, then this film from Sofia Coppola - which is also based on a true story - could be for you. As with Hustlers, Coppola looks beyond the flash and sparkle of this story of teenagers planning celebrity robberies - to consider the dirt of the details of celebrity culture and modern morality. Actions may have consequences here but it's what is going on in the heads of the teenagers that Coppola wants us to think about. Read the full review.
If you were inspired to watch Finlay Pretsell's Time Trial by last week's Streaming Spotlight on sports documentaries, or you want a taste of what you might be missing, you can catch his short film Standing Start - co-directed by Adrian McDowall - that shows world champion Craig MacLean's preparation for a cycle race.
We're also hoping to be taking a look at some film scores in the coming weeks as part of our Stay-At-Home spotlight. This week, it's Metropolis.
Max Blinkhorn writes: Metropolis is a milestone in cinema. Fritz Lang’s concept was huge – a big story, 150 minutes long and $14.2 million at today’s values. While described as simplistic by science fiction writers of the time, its story is still relevant. While Metropolis is a silent movie, music always accompanied films so a good score was vital. Composer Gottfried Huppertz, a regular Lang collaborator used a large orchestra, however because of that, it was only played at the premiere. Lang had been forced to cut the film for general release and so Metropolis was rarely seen in full with the score being played, after the opening. The first full orchestral recording of the original score was made in 2001 when a reconstructed version of the film was shown. Huppertz’s work was played live with the film by enthusiasts in some US theatres in 2007. An original but damaged copy was found 2008 and this version of the film re-premiered with the full score being played by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2010.
It’s fair tribute to Metropolis that other scores were written over the years by musicians including Georgio Moroder, but all lack the power of the sound of a big orchestra playing a huge and portentous original piece which amplifies the films’ themes intensely and matches the images perfectly.I find it both dazzling and glowering, its brassy, in your face chords reminiscent of Wagner’s Tannhauser. The glorious ending, and the film’s general theme of human reconciliation is beautifully rounded. It is of its time but remarkably prescient.
The scale of Metropolis as a filmmaking endeavour is as big as its subject and warrants further seeking. Our links will take you to some of that: Live music score and film – sample:
An (very good) electronic expression of the score from 2010 – 10 minutes only:
The full fat, no holds barred, extras laden, intelligent choice, with a new recording of the score is available to buy from the BFI