Stay-At-Home Seven: August 17 to 23

Films to watch on the telly and streaming services this week

by Amber Wilkinson

The Florida Project
The Florida Project
The Florida Project, Film4 on Demand until September 8

Sean Baker's Oscar-nominated film about a precocious six-year-old and her mum is a candy-coloured exploration of life on the fringes in America. The Magic Castle hotel might not hold many tricks up its sleeve for single mum Hallee (Bria Vinaite) but it's an enchanted playground so far as little Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends are concerned. They run - and skip and frolic - through the film with an infectious energy, while illustrating the unique pressures that exist for those families who live in these sorts of circumstances. Young Prince is a natural and it's a treat to see Willem Dafoe in a warmer role for once, as the benevolent Magic Castle manager Bobby trying to nudge the older members of the community into line. Read our full review.

Gravity, Amazon Prime

While there's no escaping the fact that the breathtaking visuals of Alfonso Cuarón's space drama are best enjoyed on the biggest screen you can find, there's plenty of additional reasons to recommend this journey to the stars, which is fresh on Amazon Prime this week. The simple set-up sees scientist Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) on her first space walk, alongside veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who is making his last when a debris storm lashes them towards disaster. The script is spare and the tension hums as Bullock - who lost out on an Oscar to Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine that year - carries us with Stone in what is also an impressive physical performance. Gripping from beginning to last. Read our full review.

Love & Friendship, BBC iPlayer until September 14

Jane Austen's Lady Susan bustles energetically from the page in Whit Stillman's spot-on adaptation of the epistolary novel. Kate Beckinsale has a hoot as anti-heroine Susan, newly widowed and on a mission to marry off her daughter Federica (Morfydd Clark), while attempting to bag herself a man along the way. Stillman expands Austen's work in all the right places, so that her satire springs alive and is additionally upholstered in all the right places. This is a film where women hold sway but Tom Bennett's bumbling buffoon Sir James is a scene-stealing comic creation who is well worth watching the film for in his own right. Read our full review.

Menashe, Film4, Thursday, August 20, 2.20am

Film4 continues its habit of tucking away little gems in the middle of the night with this indie film that premiered in Sundance. Joshua Z Weinstein takes a clear-eyed approach to the Hasidic community, crafting an engrossing drama about a man who faces losing custody of his son following the death of his wife if he doesn't remarry quickly. Comic Menashe Lustig plays the lead and the story carries all the more heft because it is loosely based on his own life. Weinstein captures the everyday rhythms of Menashe's daily routine without overly romanticising them or feeling the need to pick them apart, so that we a drawn into the fabric of this Orthodox community as well as Menashe's attempts to reconcile his feelings. Young Ruben Niborski also puts in an impressive performance as Menashe's young son Rieven, who is also grappling with grief. Read our interview with writer/producer Alex Lipschultz and our full review.

District 9, Sony Movies (Freeview Channel 32), August 19, 9pm

Neill Blomkamp's grungy apartheid allegory sees an alien invasion end not in warfare but with the aliens carted off to a ghetto named District 9. There, decades pass and xenophobia mounts, until it's decided that they must be resettled to somewhere even more remote. Charged with the job is Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley, in a role that catapulted him to international fame), who following an accident finds himself teaming up with an unlikely ally. Blomkamp offers plenty of food for thought regarding attitudes to refugees, not just in South Africa but globally, but it's all firmly embedded in the action - some might even find its descent into a shootout a bit frustrating after the more cerebral elements that have come before. But there is care and attention to detail here. Blomkamp has now founded Oats Studio, which specialises in short films. You can see some of them on the official site. Read our full review of District 9 here.

The Go-Between, Talking Pictures TV (Freeview Channel 81), Monday, August 17, 11pm

This classy - and class-based - drama from Joseph Losey tells the tale of 12-year-old Leo (Dominic Guard, and Michael Redgrave as an adult), who goes to spend the summer with his much wealthier friend Marcus (Richard Gibson). Developing a crush on Marcus' sister (Julie Christie), he finds himself caught up as a messenger between her the local farmer (Alan Bates) with whom she is having a clandestine affair. Losey and scriptwriter Harold Pinter, pry at the way the affair exposes the class divide, while cinematographer Gerry Fisher ensures the whole film throbs with the heat of summer - with the filmmakers going so far as to paint the grass green to ensure the look. Read our full review.

The Levelling, BBC2, Saturday, August 22, 12.20am

It's worth staying up late to catch Hope Dickson Leach's distinctive debut about a woman, Clover (Ellie Kendrick), who returns to her father's farm after her brother commits suicide. Dickson Leach explores the everyday judgements people can make about their nearest and dearest with care and attention, as bottled up emotions begin to spill out. She also makes beautiful use of the countryside setting to emphasise the pressures of farming life. Kendrick - who many will recognise from her role as Meera Reed in Game of Thrones - continues to impress in any setting and deserves more big-screen work. Read our full review.

We're staying with Dickson Leach for our short selection this week. Parliamo Glasgow was made as part of Channel 4's superior Coming Up scheme that financed shorts from up and coming filmmakers that has since evolved into the 4Stories scheme. As with her debut feature, Dickson Leach creates a strong sense of place for this carefully calibrated short.

Parliamo Glasgow - Channel 4 from Stewart Thomson on Vimeo.

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