Violation Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Violation, Shudder, from Thursday, March 25
We mentioned this when it screened as part of Sundance Film Festival's online line-up earlier this year, but if you missed it then it's well worth catching up with Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s psychological horror. Ambiguity is the name of the game for much of this melancholy film that considers both a shocking – and not for the fainthearted – event and its trigger. The story is presented piecemeal, as the deeply disturbing fuller picture begins to emerge, raising complex questions around vengeance and trauma that bite deep. Although this is Canadian it has the cool chill of the European arthouse about it and features a fierce central performance from Sims-Fewer that compels you not to look away even when you want to. Read our full review. We'll also be bringing you an interview with Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli later this week.
The Mole Agent, 9pm, BBC4, Monday, March 23 and 11.30pm, Tuesday, March 24
Anne-Katrin Titze writes: Sergio (Chamy) answers an ad looking for a man in his eighties or nineties to spy on the goings on in a nursing home. Chilean director Maite Alberdi’s immensely entertaining and funny film - which is in the running Best Documentary at the Oscars - starts out as an investigation into a specific place and slowly evolves into something much larger that makes you question a society as a whole that decided at some point that people of a certain age or with a certain predicament could be dumped off for storage and that this arrangement is perfectly normal and acceptable. At the San Francisco nursing home Sergio befriends various inhabitants and takes part in joyful extravagant celebrations (with costumes and balloons and cakes) with the staff. Bruno Dumont’s films may come to mind - all that humanity is breathtaking! Not a false note sours what could so easily have gone the cute and brutal, marigold plucky saccharine pensioner horror route. Here the ladies use the adjective of choice: “ He looks lucid!” Sergio is also a smart dresser in his rotating assortment of V-neck sweaters and tweedy jackets. As far as his job is concerned, he is armed with spy glasses and a camera pen and phones in not-so coded messages about the “target” each evening to Rómulo (Rómulo Aitken), the private detective who hired him for a client and advises him to “be prudent.” The real anguish of memory loss is given dignity in this film and the implications about depositing others without care are enormous. Read our full review.
Rush, BBC4, 9.50pm Saturday, March 27
The story of the rivalry between F1 aces James Hunt and Niki Lauda is given a glossy big screen retelling in Ron Howard's film. Written by Peter Morgan, it's no surprise that the writer of Frost/Nixon and The Queen puts psychology to the fore and amps up the win-at-any-costs mentality of Lauda, in particular - something that led the driver to have a horrific accident. Howard's action on the racing circuit does the job but it's Lauda's battle back from the accident that really holds the interest and Daniel Bruhl, who can be a bit hit and miss in terms of performances, is on the top of his game as the driven Austrian. Chris Hemsworth puts in a solid supporting performance, although he mainly leans into the established playboy image of the English sportsman. Read our full review.
Fatal Attraction, 10.20pm, BBC1, Saturday, March 27
The film that gave the world the phrase "bunny boiler" is still well worth a look more than 30 years on, first and foremost for the powerhouse performances of its leads. Michael Douglas plays a married Dan - could the name be more Everyman? - who gets a lot more than he bargains for following a one-night stand with Alex (Glenn Close). After getting the brush-off, Alex begins to stalk Dan with increasing intensity and Close brings the complexities of her character to the fore, before the more melodramatic elements really crank up. Sadly shorn of its more intelligent ending - that had much less of a "hurrah, for masculinity" vibe and a more multifaceted, tragic sweep - this is nonetheless a solid and cerebrally inclined thriller. Close, incidentally, hated the revised ending.
Border, Film4, 1.50am, Monday, March 29
This film from Danish-Iranian director Ali Abbasi is adapted from Let The Right One In author John Ajvide Lindqvist's short story and it shares the same ability of mixing the fantastical with the everyday in a concrete and often disturbing way. The story follows border guard Tina (Eve Melander, giving a hell of a performance beneath a ton of make-up), whose sense of smell makes her an asset when it comes to catching smugglers. A chance encounter with a man called Vore (Eero Milonof, also putting in sterling work) begins to open a world of secrets and the past to Tina. To say too much more would be to spoil the surprising strangeness of Abbasi's off-beat and beautifully shot film. The sort of unusual film the phrase "cult classic" was made for. Read the full review here.
Eighth Grade, Netflix, from Friday, March 26
Bo Burnham taps into the awkwardness of teenagehood in this tale of Kayla (Elsie Fisher), who is about to make that step up - or depending on your perspective, cliff jump - from middle school to high school. There's an irony, of course, in the fact that Kayla is making Youtube videos about self-confidence that are going unwatched but she's in such earnest - and acted with such an emotional openness by Fisher - that we feel an immediate connection. Burnham's naturalistic style is likely to bring memories of adolescence flooding back, even if you aren't part of the Youtube generation and he handles his story with warmth and care. Read our full review.
Wild Tales, All4 on demand
Argentinian director Damián Szifron's deliciously dark collection of short films that tap into the more sinister side of human nature lost out in the Oscar race to Polish film Ida, but in a less competitive year it could easily have won. His taut tales of the unexpected range from relationship breakdown at a wedding to a cheerfully unhinged spot of road range and chance encounters on a plane, each served with a twist. The cast are also uniformly good and includes plenty of Argentine cinema favourites, including Ricardo Darín and Leonardo Sbaragli. Anthology films usually have a weak spot but this remains a mordant delight from beginning to end. Read our full review.
Our short selection this week is Time Traveller by Steve Kenny, which sees a young Back To The Future fan try to finish building his own DeLorean before his family are evicted from their halting site.