Stay-At-Home Seven: June 20 to July 5

Films to catch on streaming services and telly this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave.
Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave.
Welcome to this week's Stay-At-Home Seven. If you're looking for more inspiration, don't forget to check out our Streaming Spotlight on quirky continental comedies, plus you can read last week's suggestions here.

Volcano, Curzon Home Cinema, until July 5

Curzon have teamed up with Edinburgh International Film Festival for an online showcase, including Roman Bondarchuk's absurdist debut. It tells the tale of Lukas (Serhiy Stepansky), a translator who finds himself inexplicably stranded in the back of beyond of southern Ukraine. Filled with striking visuals from cinematographer Vadim Ilkovlonger, the film progresses, the more Bondarchuk subverts the idea of Kafka - rather than this road-to-nowhere situation proving to be hell, there's an increasing sense that a loss of structure could be less a tearing down of Lukas' life than an opportunity to build something different. Many of the films screening as part of this initiative also feature live Q&As -including Ron Howard, who will be talking about Rebuilding Paradise on Wednesday, at 8.15pm - for more details visit the official site. Read our full review here.

12 Years A Slave, Film4, Monday June 29, 9pm

It seems incredible to think that, in 2014, Steve McQueen's film became the first produced and directed by a black filmmaker - and written by an African American (John Ridley, adapting from Solom Northrop's memoir) - to win the Best Picture Oscar, although McQueen lost out in the Best Director stakes to Alfonso Cuaron's [film id= 24564]Gravity[/film]. It's apt, then, that the film reminds us that the issues surrounding slavery and the powerful and the powerless aren't just something from the history books but still, unfortunately, fiercely a part of our times. Based on the true story of violinist and family man Northrop (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who was born a free man but who was kidnapped and transported to Louisiana - where slavery still raged. McQueen shows not just the physical abuse but also the psychological violence that stems from white privilege and the difficulties of breaking free from something so culturally ingrained. There's a rawness and subtlety to the action and performances - both from Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o as a housemaid who unfortunately catches the eye of brutal slave owner Epps (Michael Fassbender) - that brings home the horror and makes sure it takes up residence in your head. Read our full review.

The Nut Job, Netflix from July 1

When the self-centred Surly Squirrel (Will Arnett on vocals) finds himself banished from the park, he stumbles onto a group of thieves plotting to rob a bank, which opens up the delightful possibility of a double heist plot - as the thieves plan their scam from a nut shop, Surly plots his own food-oriented theft, with a little bit of help from friends he thinks he doesn't need. More interested in mischief than messaging, the spirit of Looney Tunes is to the fore here, with just the right dash of gangster noir, some enjoyably brutal slapstick and great characterisation. Read our full review.

Green Room, Film4, Friday, July 2 1.35am

Jeremy Saulnier followed up on his taut revenge thriller Blue Ruin with this, equally pacey, if slightly more formulaic tale of a punk band (Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Callum Turner and Joe Cole) who find themselves trapped in a stand-off backstage with a neo-Nazi (Patrick Stewart) and his unpleasant crew, including Macon Blair, who took centre stage in Blue Ruin and who puts in a highly enjoyable turn here as a hapless henchman.Saulnier balances the darkly comic/horror elements of the film as the body count rises and proves to be nothing if not inventive in his methods of dispatch.

Marshland, Monday, July 26, 1.45am

Director Alberto Rodríguez and cowriter Rafael Cobos serve up this noir-inflected murder mystery with a Spanish twist. Two mismatched cops, the young Pedro (Raúl Arévalo) and hardened Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) head to small-town Spain from Madrid following the disappearance of two teenage sisters. As the investigation proceeds, the vestiges of the Franco regime come up against the emerging democracy, with everything feeling out of kilter. Putting the twists and turns of the Guadalquivir Wetlands to good cinematic use, this is an intelligent and brooding thriller, featuring a boatload of great performances, including Manolo solo as a deadbeat journalist and Antonio de la Torre as a father full of threat. Read our full review.

Filmworker, 4onDemand until Tuesday, July 7

Jennie Kermode writes: Film is a team effort. For all that we talk about directors and stars and sometimes composers or cinematographers, the films we love would never have happened without the input of scores of other people whose names will never be widely known, their talents never celebrated. The work of stanley Kubrick would never have become what it did without Leon Vitali, an actor widely praised for his work on Barry Lyndon who gave up acting and everything else an ordinary man might want in life in order to become the director's devoted assistant, doing everything from making the coffee to interviewing 4,000 children in order to find the right Danny for The Shining. Tony Zierra's richly detailed film celebrates the life of this hidden figure, explores his contributions and creates a compelling portrait of his obsession - something that Vitali explained to us himself in rather more modest terms. Kubrick fans will thrill at the myriad fascinating insights this film has to offer, but it's also an intriguing exploration of the filmmaking process more generally and a salute to the little guys. Read our full review.

Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner, Sony Movies Classic (Freeview Channel 32), Friday, July 3, 5.10pm

When disaffected teenager Colin (Tom Courtenay, serving up raw rebellion in his film debut) is sent to borstal, they discover he has a talent for running. But when his skill begins to garner favourable treatment from the governor (Michael Redgrave), it doesn't go down well with the other borstal boys. Tony Richardson had already earned his British New Wave spurs with Look Back In Anger and A Taste Of Honey but this film's theme of internal conflict between rebellion or toeing the line has arguably allowed it to retain its relevance more than those earlier films even today. Read our full review

For this week's short, why not get yourself in the mood for The Nut Job by watching Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis'  short, Surly Squirrel, that would lead to it? It does contain more adult themes than the more family-friendly feature.

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