Whilst the world is on pause and your Filmhouse Sunderland visits aren’t possible, we’re keeping the independent cinema flag flying with our new weekly watch lists from Chris & Jonny, the people behind the project.
Each Friday, we’ll post a list of four films that are currently available across BBC iPlayer, All4, Netflix and Amazon Prime that we think you should seek out.
This week’s selection is…
One Man And His Shoes (15) (2020) (BBC iPlayer)
A real testament to the power of documentary filmmaking, this new film looks at the rise of Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers and the questionable business practices behind them. As basketball superstar Michael Jordan rose to fame on the back of his incredible sporting ability in the 1980s, Nike marketed a line of trainers under his name. The shoe line quickly rose to be the most coveted in the world, powered by an international marketing campaign featuring ads by the likes of Spike Lee. However, with success comes a dark side. With the trainers being aggressively marketed to young people who couldn’t easily afford the $150 price tag on them, and Nike throttling the supply chain to drive up price and desire for the products, soon the shoes became the reason for a wave of crime – and a number of murders…
Babyteeth (15) (2020) (Netflix)
The kind of beautifully-made, feelgood film that we need in these times, Babyteeth, directed by Shannon Murphy, is a tonic. It’s the story of 16-year-old Milla (Eliza Scanlen), living with a terminal cancer diagnosis and cosseted by her loving parents. When freewheeling, scattershot pill-dealer Moses crashes into her life one morning whilst she’s on the way to school, Milla finds herself instantly in love, and realises that he represents the chance to be defiantly alive. Can the pair’s relationship survive Milla’s loving parents (Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis)? With terrific acting, Babyteeth is unpredictable and hilarious – a terrific new film to kick off 2021.
Slow West (15) (2015) (All 4)
Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee star in this ace western set in 1800s Colorado. Fassbender is grizzled bounty hunter Silas Selleck, who is employed by naive Scottish teenager Jay as he searches for his lost love Rose, who fled Scotland with her father after an incident made her a fugitive from justice. However, Silas is on his own mission to find Rose and as they trek through America’s wild frontier he must hide his true motive, all the while being pursued by rival bounty hunter Payne (Ben Mendelsohn again), who is also on Rose’s trail.
Donbass (15) (2019) (Amazon Prime)
Very timely, given the current situation in the US, this wonderfully cynical anti-war film from the Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa is made up of a string of stories of fake news, destabilisation and propaganda in the war-ravaged region of the Eastern Ukraine. Opening with what seems to be a troupe of actors being made up for a film, we soon find that they are preparing to be background artists in a phoney news bulletin designed to play up the ’horrors’ being perpetrated by the ‘traitors to the Motherland’. This sets the tone for a freewheeling and caustic satire about the flexibility of reality shot through with a vein of absurdity. Do not miss.
We’d love to hear what you think of the films we recommend – let us know!
See you next week,
Chris & Jonny x