Stay-at-Home Seven: July 19 to 24

Films to catch on TV and streaming services this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Monsters Inc
Monsters Inc
Monsters Inc, BBC iPlayer

Pixar films have become increasingly nebulous of late, trying to sell high concept ideas like the journey of the Soul or disappearing down the confusing wormhole that is Toy Story spin-off Lightyear. This 2001 film is a reminder that they often score best with simple concepts that all children can immediately understand - in this case, nightmares. Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and his mate Sulley (John Goodman) have a job to do - and that is go out at night and scare kids, with their fear powering Monstropolis - but kids are getting harder to frighten. Worse still, one little girl sneaks back to base with them and with kids considered highly toxic to monsters, the stage is set for general mayhem, gingered up further by the presence of the malevolent Randall (Steve Buscemi). The film is visually stunning but it's the depth of its emotional texture that really counts.

There's Something About Mary, 10pm, Tuesday, July 19, 5Star

Cameron Diaz has recently announced she is going to be coming out of acting 'retirement' for Netflix's Back In Action so now is a good time to revisit some of her back catalogue. The Farrelly brothers were always a bit of an acquired taste, with their gross-out approach to humour often more miss than hit, but Diaz is the best thing about this, their biggest box office hit, and lifts the content with a serious dose of ditzy charm. She is, of course, Mary, a woman who finds herself the object of the affections of every man she encounters, including a now grown up kid from high school (Ben Stiller) and the PI (Matt Dillon) he has hired to track her down. Intended to be edgy on release, some of the"humour" has become even less funny with time but this remains worth catching for Diaz's delivery.

Bridge Of Spies, Film4, Wednesday, July 20

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.

The Bling Ring, 11.35pm, BBC1, Saturday, July 23

Sofia Coppola's tale of fame-obsessed teenage thieves is based on a Vanity Fair article and features strong performances from the likes of Emma Watson, Georgia Rock and Taissa Farmiga, Coppola looks beyond the flash and sparkle of this story of teenagers planning celebrity robberies - to consider the dirt of the details of celebrity culture and modern morality. Actions may have consequences here but it's what is going on in the heads of the teenagers that Coppola wants us to think about.

Harry And The Hendersons, 12.55pm, Film4, Sunday, July 24

John Lithgow brings his usual sharp comic timing to this tale of a family who take home Bigfoot, only to get a lot more than they bargained for. Although the humour is a little hit or miss, you can't fault its heart of gold - not to mention its supporting cast, which includes Don Ameche, M Emmet Walsh and none other than Poirot himself David Suchet. The make-up won an Oscar back when this was made and if the special effects look a bit ropey by today's standards the film itself retains plenty of charm.

Happening, MUBI

Audrey Diwan's film about a student facing an unwanted pregnancy in 1960s France - an era when abortion was outlawed - has garnered sharp relevance in the wake of recent court decisions in the US. Diwan takes a clear-eyed look at what happens to Anne (Anamarie Vartolomei) as her actions become increasingly desperate in the face of a system and society that has no empathy for her situation. Diwan avoids melodrama in favour of letting the hard, cold reality of Anne's position speak for itself in a drama that is tense and compassionate in equal measure.

Carnival Of Souls, 11.05pm, July 23, Talking Pictures TV

Jennie Kermode writes: One of those seminal pieces of cinema which nobody with a serious interest in the medium can afford to go without, Carnival Of Souls feels familiar today in part because of the vast amount of other work that has been drawn from it. Originally released in 1962, it stars Candace Hilligoss as a young woman whose life begins to go askew after she’s involved in a car crash (shown in a visceral pre-credits sequence unlike anything filmed before). As she tries to build a new life as a church organist in a small Utah town, fending off the advances of the local men, she starts to see people who look dead. Viewers share her disorientation by way of skewed camera angles and a soundtrack which breaks all the established rules. Nothing is quite right here, and as the film spirals down towards its awful conclusion it becomes ever more visually inventive.

Our short selection this week is Rubber Coated Steel - a documentary that sees Lawrence Abu Hamdan consider the killing of two unarmed teenagers by Israeli soldiers in 2014. Pop over to Youtube to view it.

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