Stay-at-Home Seven: January 10 to 16

Films to catch on streaming services and TV this week

by Amber Wilkinson

'Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?'
'Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?'

In the wake of Christmas, you have to hunt harder for good films on TV, so I've included a handful from streaming services this week, including the free-to-watch Plex.tv and w4free.

Donnie Darko, w4free.com

Richard Kelly's film has become a cult classic but like many of its type it was originally a flop at the box office. Fluid in terms of genre, taking in everything from sci-fi and coming-of-age to satire, his film tells the story of a teenager who begins to have visions in which a rabbit informs him that the world will end in 28 days. It's a complex watch of a film that practically begs for repeat viewings to unpick all its various pieces - so what better place to catch it than on a free streaming service where you can do just that? Kelly - who hasn't directed a film since 2009's The Box - told Slash Film last year that he was working on a number of projects, we can but hope.

Cyrano De Bergerac, Plex.tv

Get yourself in the mood for Joe Wright's new take on Edmond Rostand's classic, starring Peter Dinklage and released in the UK on February 25, by checking out this older version. This tale of a man fearful of rejection because of his large nose has proved robust in terms of interpretations on the big screen, with the likes of Gerard Depardieu and Steve Martin also scoring successes with it - and star José Ferrer won an Oscar for his beautifully calibrated performance here. He captures the complexity of Cyrano with a seductive charm.

Only The Animals, Netflix

This crafty little puzzle box of a French thriller is one of those films you have to know is tucked away on the streaming service in order to find it. Dominik Moll gradually reveals his tale of unexpectedly interconnected lives, Rashomon style, that will take us from rural France, where Michel (Denis Ménochet) and Alice (Laure Calamy) run a farm, to the Ivory Coast - all centring on a woman's disappearance. The snowy countryside of France adds a chilly vibe while the shifting perspective pulls you this way and that in a film that is built on lies - not least the ones the characters tell themselves.

Yuli, 10pm, BBC2, Saturday, January 15

Emotions take centre stage in Icíar Bollaín's biopic of Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta. Her film, written by her partner and regular Ken Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, charts Acosta's reluctant acceptance of his ballet talent, as he rose from the breadline in rural Cuba to become, among other things, the first black principal of The Royal Ballet and its first black Romeo - with archive footage of this nicely worked into the fabric of the film. Dance sequences allow Bollaín to explore abstract emotions, including fear and loneliness. Read what Icíar Bollaín and Paul Laverty told us about the film.

Hidden Figures, 6.30pm Tuesday Film4

Some stories have taken a long time to be told - and this one, about the unsung backroom revolutionaries in NASAs space race, is certainly one of them. African-American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P Henson) acted as "human computers" for the space agency, running the numbers that would help to put astronauts in orbit - and bring them back again. Theodore Melfi accentuates the skill and passion of his three leads - with Spencer, Monáe and Henson all putting in gripping performances - that allows him to shine a light on not just overt but latent racism and white privilege, that still has plenty of resonance in the modern world.

Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror, Shudder, from today

Jennie Kermode writes: Where did the concept of folk horror originate? What does it mean and what does it encompass? Kier-La Janisse’s densely packed documentary cannot hope to cover everything, even at three hours, and it rejects reductive definitions at the outset, but it’s a marvellous guide for beginners to the subject and aficionados would be well advised to watch with a notebook in hand for jotting down the titles of everything they’ll want to find afterwards. Film clips and interviews – including archival ones with now deceased folk horror luminaries – are bound together with beautiful animated sequences which contribute to a sense of natural flow despite the scope of the project. It’s a masterclass in documentary work and set to become the go-to work on its subject. Read what La Janisse told us about the film.

Minding The Gap, BBC iPlayer

Bing Liu's Oscar-nominated film pulls together more than a decade's worth of footage to outline the lives of three youngsters who bond over a love of skateboarding. This is a lot more than a film about a hobby, however - although the joy with which the boys' antics on their boards are captured is infectious - it is also a portrait of fractured lives, domestic violence and male identity that finds power in the honesty of self-scrutiny. Interestingly, one of its participants, Zack Mulligan, has gone on to an acting career, appearing in 2020's Death On The Streets.

This week's short is Sandra Desmazières' lovingly crafted tale of two separated sisters, Flowing Home - one of the 15 short animations on this year's Oscar shortlist.

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