Stay-At-Home Seven: October 4 to 10

TV and streaming recommendations for the week ahead

by Amber Wilkinson

Under The Skin
Under The Skin

Welcome to this week's Stay-At-Home Seven. The nights are drawing in, so now is a good time to avoid the autumn chill and catch some quality filmmaking at home. If you're looking for more inspiration, our recent Streaming Spotlight focuses on French female filmmakers, plus you can read last week's Stay-At-Home Seve here.

Eternal Beauty, Curzon Home Cinema ongoing, with Q&A Monday at 8.30pm

It's been a while since we included an event in the Stay-at-Home Seven, but Curzon's Q&A with Eternal Beauty director Craig Roberts and its star Sally Hawkins is well worth catching if you can. They'll be talking about Roberts' heartfelt character study of paranoid schizophrenic Jane (Hawkins), based, in part, on experiences of someone in his own family, which carefully balances the mood so that black humour is employed but never at the expense of Jane. Hawkins, who proved with The Shape Of Water she was more than able to convey emotions without words, puts in a finely calibrated performance that is constantly unpredictable but never slips into cliche. The film is available to stream at any time but the Q&A will be on the Curzon Facebook page at 8.30pm. Read our full review.

My Life As A Courgette, Tuesday, Film4, 2.40am

Celine Sciamma has been making waves this year with her writer/director hat on for the moving, Oscar-nominated Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. She also contributes to other director's films, however, including this stop-motion animation about a little boy- Courgette - who is sent to a children's home. Claude Barras spent 14 years bringing his film from storyboard to screens and you can feel the love in every frame as he (along with Sciamma and contributions from Germano Zullo and Morgan Navarro) step aside from the usual orphan stereotypes. The film, which has plenty to offer for adults as well as children, paints a complex portrait, showing how anxieties are leavened by friendship without becoming saccharine. The tactile nature of the stop-motion technique, only makes you want to hug them more. Read our full review.

Loveless, Thursday, Film4, 1.10am

This bleak drama from Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev will certainly not be the easiest watch you have all week, but it is an accomplished piece of craft. Nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2018, where it lost out to Fantastic Woman, this is a chilly consideration of the state of modern Russia as viewed through the prism of a husband and wife (Alexey Rozin and Mariana Spivak) whose marriage is a warzone with their 12-year-old son Aloysha (Matvey Novikov) an ongoing casualty . A near-silent presence at the beginning of the film, his parents barely notice when he is there - and then fail to notice when he isn't. As a hunt for the youngster begins, Zvyagintsev's chilly consideration of the fractured families and hypocrisies of Russia today cuts through like the winter wind. Read our full review.

The Searchers, BBC iPlayer until November 3

Jennie Kermode writes: John Wayne may have enjoyed huge star status but he wasn't known for the subtlety of his acting work. This film is the exception, and it draws on his established all-American tough guy persona to tackle darker aspects of the country's history. Here he's set up like a hero, setting out on a long ride to find his niece (possibly his daughter) after she is abducted by Comanche raiders, but it soon becomes apparent that something is wrong with him as he engages in petty, vicious racist acts whenever the opportunity presents itself. In due course, it becomes apparent that he might not plan to bring the missing girl home at all, but rather to kill her because he sees her as contaminated. Although it's problematic in its portrayal of the Comanches, the film presents them as intelligent and dignified, with reasons for what they do, and it led to a revolution in the way that western narratives were framed. The white hero was never again someone who could be taken at face value. Any notion that women were treated chivalrously on the frontier was gone forever. In John Ford's unforgettable, vast landscapes, the West was truly wild. Read our full review.

Under The Skin, Film4 on Demand, until October 12

Jennie Kermode writes: There are hundreds of films out there about aliens arriving on Earth, but in how many of them do feel just that - alien? Filmed in and around Glasgow with a tiny cast, almost all of the amateurs, Jonathan Glazer's inventive and poignant science fiction tale presents us with a creature whose differentness is unfathomable, a predator who consumes human bodies in a manner that defies logic yet becomes believable. The real trick, however, lies in the way he persuades us to empathise with this creature as it slowly finds itself empathising with the people around it, identifying with them to a degree that could be fatal. Scarlett Johansson is a picture of alienation in the lead and her interactions with Glaswegians who didn't even know they were being filmed lend an almost documentary quality to something which, elsewhere, is very much in art film territory.  Constantly shifting in its sympathies and sometimes coruscatingly bleak, it benefits from some stunning cinematography by Daniel Landin as we move out of the city and into remote spaces where nothing can be taken for granted. Read our full review.

The Two Faces of January, Film4, Wednesday, October 7, 7.05pm

Jennie Kermode writes: Is there any Patricia Highsmith book that wouldn't make a great film? This one sees Viggo Mortensen as a shady double dealer on the run in Europe with his much younger girlfriend (Kirsten Dunst), while Oscar Isaac is the petty swindler who gets caught up with them and quickly finds himself out of his depth. Director Hossein Amini has the patience that the source material requires and lets this tragic thriller unfold at a natural pace, trusting his cast to draw viewers in. Restrained emotion gives way to intense feelings as the tension mounts, but for all the jealousy we see over Dunst's character, it's the relationship between the two men that carries the film, the young man looking for a father figure and perhaps something more - but trust is a fragile thing and ultimately all three are just tourists. Greece's antique ruins never looked more lovely or more desolate, with Marcel Zyskind's sun-bleached cinematography lending them a sense of distance and unreality that makes awful things possible.Read our full review.

Murder On The Orient Express, Film4 on Demand until Saturday

If someone mentions Hercule Poirot to you, images of Peter Ustinov or David Suchet are most likely to spring to mind, but this well upholstered remake of the story by Kenneth Branagh is also well worth a look. Branagh also stars as the Belgian sleuth, complete with a moustache so lustrous it probably had its own dressing room, who finds himself investigating a murder on the famous train. The camerawork from Haris Zambarloukos keeps things moving despite the confined quarters of the train and the cast - as is customary for Agatha Christie adaptations - is plushly appointed with A-listers including Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe and Johnny Depp. Branagh has a follow-up, Death On The Nile, already in post-production, so this is a good time to familiarise yourself with his incarnation of the idiosyncratic detective. Read our full review

This week's short selection is the Oscar-nominated animated charmer Hair Love from Matthew A Cherry, Everett Downing Jr and Bruce W. Smith, which tells the story of an African American dad's attempt to do his daughter's hair for the first time. 

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