Shoplifters Photo: Fuji Television Network/Gaga Corporation/AOI Pro Inc All rights reserved
French Film Festival@Home
This year's French Film Festival had to scale back many of its physical screenings because of the fresh pandemic lockdown - but it introduced this new initiative this year, that means some of the films can be caught online. The event started last week, with films available until December 4. Movies still to come this week include Into Dad's Woods, a semi-autobiographical consideration of a teenager trying to cope with her dad's mental health issues and Franco-Algerian director Kamir Aïnouz’s coming of age tale Honey Cigar. Films cost £7.50 each to rent. More details on the line-up can be found here
Shoplifters, Film4 on Demand, until January 14
It's been a good few weeks for catching up with Hirokazu Kore-eda's back catalogue on streaming services and, this week, you can watch his Palm d'Or winning tale of a family of crooks who take in - or, perhaps more accurately, steal - a young girl they find on the street. Kore-eda's regular themes concerning family and connection are all in evidence here as he gradually lets the emotional eddies build from the humourous eccentricity of this clan, taking his time to explore the lives of the members of the family before taking the film into unexpected territory that, as always with Kore-eda packs a hefty emotional punch. You can also still catch Like Father, Like Son on Film4 on Demand which shares many of this film's themes regarding what actually makes a family. Read our full review of Shoplifters here.
Take Shelter, My5.tv
Jennie Kermode writes Michael Shannon has made a specialty of playing troubled men who may not be able to rely on their own senses. Here he partners with regular director Jeff Nichols to deliver one of his finest pieces of work as Curtis, a construction worker who becomes increasingly convinced that a dangerous storm is on its way. He begins frantic work on an old storm shelter, trying to extend it and get it into shape, but he's neglecting his paid work, his daughter (Tova Stewart) needs a cochlear implant and his wife (Jessica Chastain) cannot understand his priorities. The conflict between their differing perceptions of reality is complicated by the fact that his mother has schizophrenia which he and his daughter might inherit. Nichols is also interested in ideas around our understanding of risk - after all, climate disruption is getting worse and it's not unreasonable to assume that a dangerous storm will arrive at some point. The charismatic Curtis talks about it like a preacher and there are echoes of the Biblical Noah, yet Nichols lets us glimpse his own doubt as he struggles to hold onto his sanity, and keeps the audience guessing. Meanwhile, Adam Stone's cinematography brings an unpredictable, otherworldly quality to mundane mid-American locations, suggesting that this is something that could happen anywhere, to anyone. Read our full review.
Red, White And Blue, BBC iPlayer
Steve McQueen's evocative Small Axe continues on BBC on Sunday nights with yet another beautifully made snapshot of life within London's West Indian community. This time the focus is the true story of Leroy Logan (played briefly by Nathan Vidal before John Boyega steps in). He would go on to be a founding chair of the Black Police Association - but this is not that story, or rather it is only one facet of the prelude to it, as it considers how he came to be in the force in the first place and his initial experiences there. Beyond that, it is a tale of the often difficult relationship that can grow between fathers and sons when their choices don't dovetail - with Logan facing opposition at home from his father (Steve Toussaint) as well as ingrained racism from many of his fellow officers. McQueen knows how to make emotional moments sing without melodrama, whether it's the hug, speaking volumes, that we witness from 20 feet away or the anger that can only be expended on a punch bag. Women are never forgotten either, their importance emphasised subtly through several supporting characters, including Logan's wife Gretl (Antonia Thomas). The axe may be small but it's sharp and cuts deep. Read our full review here.
Bridge of Spies, Film4, 6.15pm, Friday, December 4
If spy swapping sounds like a study of bureaucratic and dusty dullness, Steven Spielberg will soon banish those thoughts with this Cold War thriller that positively throbs with tension, while bringing much more humanistic warmth to the material than you might expect. Tom Hanks, who always feels somehow born to play his roles, takes on another cracker here, as insurance lawyer James Donovan, who finds himself called in to defend a Russian spy (Mark Rylance) and finds himself, by baby steps, involved in a prisoner exchange. His well-calibrated everyman is matched, step-for-step by Rylance, who puts in a wryly enjoyable performance. Spielberg, meanwhile, finds delight in detail and again proves he's a master craftsman by keeping things pacy and taught despite the story's sprawling timeline and complexity. Read our full review.
Planes, Trains And Automobiles, Film4, 9pm, Saturday, December 5
Thanksgiving may be in the rearview mirror at this point, but this warm-hearted road trip comedy is perfect if you're looking to get in the mood for Christmas. Steve Martin and John Candy are the perfect pairing as Neal Page and Del Griffith, two men who meet as they're heading home for Turkey Day. A classic mismatched pairing - Del is a slob who just wants to be loved while Neal views the other man as little more than a means to an end, with John Hughes carefully shifting our sympathies - they find themselves hitting the road after a snowstorm, leading to an all-you-can eat buffet of comic complications. There's more going on than comedy, however, as Hughes dresses the humour with all the sort of feel-good trimmings people look for at this time of year. Read our full review.
The Railway Children, BBC2, 2.45pm, Saturday, December 5
It's not easy to catch the spirit of a novel in a film adaptation but Lionel Jeffries does it with style in this 1970 version of E Nesbit's tale of three kids left behind when their dad is wrongfully arrested. If it was nostalgic at the time it was made, the film has only gathered more old fashioned charm with the passing of the years as Bobbie (Jenny Agutter), Phyllis (Sally Thomsett) and Peter (Gary F Warren) bring youthful spirit to their adventures, with Bernard Cribbins providing excellent support. Jeffries perfectly captures the adventurous nature of the children, while also showing the growing sense of impending adulthood being felt by Bobbie. Grab a slice of jam and toast and enjoy. Read what Agutter told us about the film and our full review.
Our short this week is the winner of the 2004 Jim Poole Award, The Tree Officer, which shows plenty of the humour that director Neil Jack would go on to showcase in kids' TV show OOglies (which you can catch up with on iPlayer.