Streaming Spotlight: July 8 to 14

Films to catch on TV or stream this week

by Amber Wilkinson

In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood, 11.05pm, Monday, July 8

Jennie Kermode writes: Richard Brooks' adaptation of Truman Capote's celebrated book was made in 1967, just eight years after the murder of all four members of the Clutter family in their Kansas home, and two years after the execution of killers Richard Hickock and Perry Smith. It was shot in the small community where the family lived, with real neighbours appearing in the background, and it features Nancy Clutter's much-loved horse, yet it's a world away from the true crime dramas of today. With noirish photography and the same sense of melancholy detachment as the book, the film is studiously unsensational and all the more compelling as a result. It largely sets aside the character of the writer as it follows the two killers through their awful, almost accidental journey, full of muddled decisions and panicky brutality. Robert Blake, playing Smith, is the standout, and his performance would contribute to changes in US attitudes to the death penalty, as well as altering the template for the crime cinema of the future.

The Smallest Show On Earth, 11am, Film4, Wednesday, July 10

Cinephiles with a yen for old school cinemas will find this Basil Dearden film a treat. Real life couple Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna play Matt and Jean, a newly married pair who discover they have inherited a fleapit cinema, which is in the way of this sort of comedy, struggling to survive. Peppered with the sort of sight gags you might expect from the period, the real selling point here is the star-studded ensemble cast, which features Peter Sellers, Margaret Rutherford and Bernard Miles, not to mention Lesley Phillips and Sid James. It may verge on the twee by modern standards, but it remains a charming and affectionate tribute to small cinemas everywhere.

Gravity, 10.10pm, BBC1, Tuesday, July 9

Although the big screen is best for Alfonso Cuarón's spectacularly shot space drama, the small screen adds something to the intensity of Sandra Bullock's central performance as Dr Ryan Stone, who is making her first space walk alongside veteran Matt Kowalksi (George Clooney), who in a neat piece of mirroring, is making is last. When the pair of them are caught in a debris storm, cutting them off from NASA, they find themselves battling the infinite 'nothingness' of space. "I feel like a chihuahua in a tumble dryer," Ryan tells Matt as she heads out for that walk and, for the first 20 minutes of this film, that's pretty much how the viewer feels too, struck by the vertiginous sight of earth as a twirl in the distance as Emmanuel Lubezki's camera roves around between the characters and their craft. The script is spare but powerful and the end result is the perfect combination of tension and technical achievement, gripping from first to last.

Mother!, 1am, Film4, Friday, July 12

Darren Aronofsky's surreal film hinges on a magnetic central performance from Jennifer Lawrence as the wife of a writer (Javier Bardem) who is battling writer's block, her face filling the camera a lot of the time. There's an oddness here from the start... and that's before a series of unwelcome guests begin knocking on the door. Aronofsky isn't interested in the niceties of plot so much as he is pulling the levers of psychological unease and anxiety as he fuels his quasi-religious/quasi-ecological allegories. Lawrence's character tries to hold it together against the barrage of an increasing onslaught as he dials the mayhem up to 11 and beyond - not a faultless movie by any means but you have to admire both the commitment and the excess.

Enemy Of The State, 9pm, Great Movies, Saturday, July 13

Conspiracy thrillers had a bit of a resurgence in the Nineties and this is definitely one of the better ones, thanks to the usual slick directing from Tony Scott, which blends ideas from the likes of Three Days Of The Condor and The Conversation (currently on general release and well worth catching on the big screen) with chase films like North By Northwest. Lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) is about to end up with a piece of hot property - damning evidence of a rogue National Security Agent operation. He doesn't know that at first and can't understand why his life starts to fall apart. Gene Hackman is the grace note here, as a reclusive former NSA agent who knows a thing or two about attempting to drop off the grid. Pacy, twisty and, just as importantly, fun to watch.

Grease, ITVX, streaming now

It might be a bit risque at the edges and, if we're honest, not the most emancipating story in terms of sexual politics but this retro high school musical is still a fun slice of entertainment that can be enjoyed by multiple generations. John Travolta and Newton-John offer a pair of charming performances in the will they/won't they romance at the film's heart, while Stockard Channing's edgier Rizzo adds a bit of zing - even if she was, at 33, somewhat older than your average school student. The plot is wafer thin but the songs, from the opening Bee Gees number to sing-along Summer Nights and the crazy Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang style ending with foot-tapper We Go Together are undeniably infectious and it has a summery feel that defies the British weather.

Point Break, 11pm, BBC1, Sunday, July 14

Jennie Kermode writes: Forget the 2015 version. This is the original and still the best. Keanu Reeves plays the eager young cop who has to learn to ride a wave and jump out of a plane as he goes undercover to infiltrate a gang believed to be carrying out armed robberies – behind rubber masks depicting former US presidents. Even when his face is obscured, Patrick Swayze’s performance as the leader of the gang is compelling to watch, not least for our conflicted hero, and Lori Petty works hard in one of those thankless love interest roles added to keep people from questioning his sexuality. It ought to be awful, but against the odds, everything works.

Our short selection will return next week!

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