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…
The Death Of Stalin (15) (2017) (BBC iPlayer)
A terrific satire from the brilliant Armando Iannucci (Veep, The Thick Of It, The Personal History Of David Copperfield), an all-star cast unite for a riotous telling of a bizarre chapter in world history. When Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin dies in 1953, his cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to become the next leader. Among the contenders are the nerdy Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), the wily Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) and Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale) — the sadistic secret police chief. Fighting their way to the leadership, the contenders bicker, brawl and double-cross one another….
Les Misérables (15) (2020) (Netflix)
Director Ladj Ly’s Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated urban drama is a thrilling experience. Inspired by the Paris riots of 2005, the film tells the story of the simmering tensions between the residents of a working-class council estate and the police. It’s a hot day on the estate and new cop Ruiz is teamed with a brash and racist sergeant in the Anti-Crime Squad. When a young boy kickstarts tensions between local gangs, Ruiz and his team are drawn into a full-scale conflict. This is incredible filmmaking – a politically charged, incendiary crime drama for our times.
Benjamin (15) (2019) (All 4)
TV personality Simon Amstell (Never Mind The Buzzcocks) presents a semi-autobiographical tale about a film director struggling with his life and his new project. Filmmaker Simon (Colin Morgan) is an unhappy man. Having burst upon the film scene with his highly-praised first film, he is dogged by the burden of expectation and his own self-doubt as he works on his second. Cynical, and self-deprecating, Simon is aware of the time that has passed since he ‘arrived’ and is now terrified that his follow-up will be terrible. However, when he falls in love with Noah, a young French musician, he begins to realise that Noah may prove to be the key to a happy and content future…
Frances Ha (15) (2013) (Amazon Prime)
Noah Baumbach’s effervescent comedy drama stars the brilliant Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women) as Frances, drifting through life and figuring out how to be an adult. Propelled along by Gerwig’s undeniable charm, apprentice dancer Frances moves from apartment to apartment and situation to situation in a beautifully Black and white New York. However, at age 27 she knows she needs to get her act together, and we are thrust headlong into her delightful, chaotic life as she figures it all out. A wonderful film with a dazzling lead performance, Frances Ha will put a smile on your face for days.
We’d love to hear what you think of the films we recommend – let us know!
See you next week,
Chris & Jonny