Stay-At-Home Seven: July 6 to 12

Suggestions of films to catch on TV and streaming services this week.

by Amber Wilkinson


Welcome To Chechnya: The Gay Purge, BBC iPlayer until next June

Fresh on iPlayer from its Doc/Fest screenings, David France's deep dive into the underground network trying to save LGBT people from the threat to their lives posed by the extreme Chechen government is a bleak but urgent watch. Using cutting-edge face-doubling technology to protect the participants - and which, in one case, melts away to reveal how good it is part way through the film - the documentarian captures the extreme measures activists in Russia have to take in a bid to help others escape from the southern Russian republic. France's film, which also features harrowing snippets of violence against lesbian, gay and transgender people - sometimes from their own families - shows the network on the inside, complete with all its pressures and risks. A well made film showing the fight for equal rights is, sadly, far from over. Read our full review.

Back To The Future, free to watch with Amazon Prime

Returning to films like this after a long lay-off is a bit like the joy of meeting an old friend you haven't seen for years - you remember all the things you already knew about them but there's still something fresh about it. Robert Zemeckis' tale of Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), a kid who ends up going back to the night when his parents were supposed to hook up - with the help of scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) - and finds his mother taking a shine to him in ways that aren't good for his future wellbeing, has stood the test of time. This is largely because the themes are so universal - the idea of kids always being a bit disappointed in their parents, while parents, of course, had a youth that their own kids can't fully imagine. The visual storytelling draws you in immediately, from the rows of clocks (it took 20 clock wranglers to make that work), to the breakfast experiment - with burnt toast and a bowl full of dog food - to Marty hitching a skateboard ride through the town's streets. The gadgets manage to hit that sweet spot of new-fangled and nostalgic perfectly and the sound design also adds immensely. All the actors are on the top of their game, with Lloyd just the right degree of zany and Fox hitting the comic beats perfectly - not to mention Crispin Glover's odd but perfect turn as Marty's Dad George. Zemeckis takes his time to build the characters initially, which pays off increasingly as the film goes along and the plot elements slot satisfyingly into place. Also, I was struck by how the bodywarmer Marty wears - and is a running joke about being a life-preserver - has come right back into fashion. One of those films you can go back and watch time and time again. Read our full review.

Rush, BBC1, Friday , 10 July, 10.45pm

If you're one of those cheering the return of Formula One this month, then you'll love this slice of retro rivalry from Ron Howard. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star as James Hunt and Nikki Lauda as they vye to be crowned champion in 1976. The film delivers on the track - with Hemsworth having some lightweight fun with Hunt's playboy personality - but it also carries with it a surprising amount of emotional heft as it charts the accident that left Lauda badly hurt and his determination in recovery. Read our full review - and if you like racing films, check out our streaming spotlight on the need for speed.

Boyhood, Thursday, 9 July, Channel 4, 1.25am

Channel 4 love squirreling away gems in the middle of the night and here's another one, this time from indie directing star Richard Linklater. This tale of a youngster's growing pains was a labour of love for the US director and his dedicated cast, who shot it over a period of 12 years. We watch as Mason (Ellar Coltrane), grows from a six-year-old into a young man, along with his sister Samantha (Linklater's daughter Loreli), mum Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and weekend dad Mason Snr (Ethan Hawke). There's a loose structure at play here, which makes the film feel naturalistic, as the story is built on observation and the sort of everyday revelations that occur in any life. Not just a bold experiment, it's also an illustration of the filmmaker himself growing in confidence and skill down the years. Read our full review.

A Most Violent Year, Sony Movies (Freeview Channel 32), Wednesday, July 8, 9pm

JC Chandor took a dive into the troubling landscape of 1981 New York in this film about ambitious immigrant Abel (Oscar Isaac), who is trying to expand his heating oil business. Despite the title, this is less about overt violence than a broody sense of intense threat and internal struggles - of morality and marriages. Isaac and Jessica Chastain, who plays his wife, bring a depth to the ebb and flow of the disturbing undercurrent, while the strong supporting cast includes Alessandro Nivola as Abel's main rival. Cinematographer Bradford Young ensures the grim and intense mood extends to the look and feel of the film. Read our full review and our interview with Alessandro Nivola.

Cold In July,, until September

Jim Mickle's psychological thriller keeps you guessing as a family man's life starts to unravel after he kills a home intruder in the night. Michael C Hall - gamely taking on both the role and an Eighties mullet - is perfectly cast as a dad who suddenly finds himself in deep, with acting grace notes provided by Sam Shepard and Don Johnson as the two men he has to team up with after they stumble on a horrific conspiracy. Read our full review.

Rams, Monday, 13 July, 1.45am

Yes, I know this one is sneaking into the wee small hours of next week's listing, but I would hate people to miss it. This pitch black tragicomedy from Grímur Hákonarson tells the story of two brothers who have been feuding for 40 years and whose flocks are threatened by an outbreak of a deadly disease. Hákonarson has a real eye for the finer points of farming life - also seen in his more recent The County (available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema) - as well as a good ear for dry comedy but this is also a deeply humanistic portrait that goes in unexpected directions. Read our interview with Hákonarson and our chat with Atli Örvarsson about the film's score, plus our full review.

Our short selection this week is this emotionally rich documentary portrait from Laura Nix. The Oscar-nominated Walk, Run Cha-Cha sees a couple who fled Vietnam talk about resuming their relationship and their love of dance. Have a box of tissues to hand for the tears.

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We've recently covered New Directors/New Films andTallinn Black Nights, DOC NYC, Sheffield DocFest, the London Korean Film Festival, Welsh horror festival Abertoir, New York's Newfest, the October edition of Frightfest, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

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