Streaming spotlight - summer holidays

Films to take a break with

by Amber Wilkinson

It might be holiday season but as the pandemic continues to take its toll across the globe, many of us won't be travelling too far this year, either through choice or restrictions. The perfect time then, perhaps, to escape with a film, as we take a look this week at fact and fictional holidays that you can catch on streaming services - and if you do fancy heading to a cinema, you can take a chilly trip to the seaside this week with Make Up (also screening on Curzon Home Cinema).

Toy Story 4, Amazon Prime

Woody, Buzz and his pals are the perfect companions if you and your family want to get into the holiday mood, with Pixar consistently delivering the goods. These friends to the end head off with Bonnie and her family this time around - along with a new chum, Forky, a toy made in kindergarten, who believes he is "trash". Soon the gang are embroiled in a rescue mission and find themselves getting a helping hand from an old friend. The strength of the Toy Story films lies in the way that the creators match strong stories to strong characters. They explore childhood anxieties - like the fear of losing a favourite toy - while also offering a nostalgia fix for adults and heartfelt, but unfussy messages about loyalty and friendship that are robust and built to last.

Suntan, Amazon, £1.99

A sunshine-drenched holiday isle provides a sort of purgatory for Argyris Papadimitropoulos' tale of a doctor experiencing an mid-life crisis. Kostis (Makis Papadimitriou) arrives on a tiny Greek island on the off-season and, when the summer comes, the drudge of his life is replaced by an explosion of chaos, as young people flock to the beach. Among them is Anna (Elli Tringou), whose uninhibited initial response to Kostis soon leads to obsession. There's absurdity here, but also a darker judgement of masculinity that doesn't need much to become toxic.

Crip Camp, Netflix

Way back when we started our Stay-At-Home Seven, this engaging and educational Sundance documentary got a mention and it just had to be in this list as well - because it proves just how transformative holidays can be. The camp of the title was a basic affair but it brought together a group of disabled teenagers - many of whom lived very sheltered lives at home. Co-director James Lebrecht was one of those who attended and he acts as a doorway into this tale of emancipation and solidarity  that would lead to activism and better disability rights in the years afterwards.

Sightseers, Google Play, Amazon and other platforms, from £2.49

You'll never look at a knitting pattern in quite the same way again after watching Ben Wheatley's dark tale of a caravaning couple who go on a killing spree. The frumpy and downtrodden Tina (Alice Lowe) is the last person you'd expect to turn murderous, which makes it all the more deliciously funny when, thanks to her new boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram), she does. Filled with potshots at the sort of passive aggressiveness small town Britain excels in - and a good dollop of gore - this is a bloody, and bloody funny treat.

Two For Joy, Amazon, Chili, Now TV, from £2.49

Jennie Kermode writes: A holiday is supposed to be an escape, but for some people, escaping takes a lot more than just going somewhere else. Aisha (Samantha Morton) simply hasn't been able to get over her partner's death, and is barely able to function. When her teenage daughter Vi (Emilia Jones) persuades her that something has to change if only for the sake of son Troy (Badger Skelton), who is at risk of getting drawn into gang violence, the family goes away to a caravan park. There, the sympathetic owner gives Aisha what seems like the first meaningful support she's been offered, but his niece Miranda (the always excellent Bella Ramsey) shares Troy's frustrations about life, annd together the two hatch a desperate plan that will derail everything else. Getting right inside the day to day agonies of life for the most deprived, this is a tough watch, but it's given life by a suite of superb performances. Morton, who has spoken openly about her own childhood struggles, proves that a good actor doesn't need to do anything to be compelling, embodying a woman for whom a small table in a muddy field and a few drinks shared with strangers represent life at its most hopeful.

Total Recall, Amazon, Google Play and other platforms, from £3.49

With quarantine in place in many countries, many of us are having to make do with memories of travel this year - something that the hero of Paul Verhoeven's film, Doug Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) buys into courtesy of tech company Rekall Inc, who specialise in implanting false holiday memories. But his virtual trip to Mars is anything but restful when things go wrong and Quaid starts to suspect he may not be the person he thought he was. Philip K Dick's mazelike science-fiction blends to potent effect with satire and style in the hands of Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger rarely been better than he is as Everyman Quaid, in a role that flirts with self-parody without pushing completely over the edge.

The Way Way Back, Microsoft, Amazon and other platforms, from £2.49

If you like your holiday tales to come with a summery warmth, then Nat Faxton and Jim Rash's directorial debut could well be for you. Teenager Duncan (Liam James) is heading on a summer vacation with his mum Pamela (Toni Colette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell), his introversion only fuelled by Trent's declaration that on a ratings scale of 1-10, Duncan is a three. Once they reach their destination, things start to look up for the teenager, particularly after he makes friends with the manager of the local retro water park, Owen (Sam Rockwell, on top form). There are familiar themes here, of coming-of-age, of adults being more like children than the kids themselves, but the nicely worked performances and sharp script should leave you with a glow of holidays remembered.

Some might say holidays are for the birds - but migration can be a big ask if you've got a Fear Of Flying, like Dougal. This stop-motion charmer from Connor Finnegan - who is now behind a whole series of animated tales, Becca's Bunch - charts Dougal's refusal and, then, attempts to fly south.

FEAR OF FLYING from conorfinnegan on Vimeo.

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