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 Elephant Man (PG) (1980) (BBC iPlayer)
David Lynch’s heartbreaking drama was his second feature, and showed the compassion and restraint that would reappear occasionally in later films such as The Straight Story.
Dr. Frederic Treves (Anthony Hopkins) discovers Joseph (John) Merrick (John Hurt) in a cruel fairground sideshow. Born with a congenital disorder, Merrick uses his disfigurement to earn a living as the “Elephant Man.” Taking him from the show and bringing him back to his home, Treves finds that Merrick is a refined and gentle soul and sets about introducing him to the London upper classes. But has he traded one sideshow for another..? Exceptional performances from John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins, and an air of compassion and restraint from Lynch ensure that The Elephant Man remains one of the best biopics ever made, even 40 years on.
Concrete Cowboy (15) (2021) (Netflix)
New to Netflix, this powerful inner-city tale of redemption stars Idris Elba and Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin and shines a light on a little-known corner of American culture. After one fight too many at school, troubled Detroit teen Cole (McLaughlin) is packed off by his desperate mother to live with his estranged dad Harp (Elba) in Philadelphia. Harp runs the city’s urban stables and is struggling to keep the threat of redevelopment away from the horses and the traditions he’s so passionate about maintaining. He’s equally suspicious of his responsibilities as a father, and isn’t ready to step up and face them. Feeling pushed away, Cole starts to hang out with his old school pal Smush, who’s got ties to the local gangs and deep into dealing. Will Cole be able to stay away from the lure of Smush and the darkness beyond, or will he fight for a relationship with his dad and all that is offered by the nobility of the horses he cares for…?
Shot Caller (15) (2017) (All 4)
Game Of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stars in this tense drama which has echoes of Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet and TV’s Breaking Bad. Ten years after being sentenced for a drink-driving offence, former stockbroker Jacob exits prison a changed man. Now a hardened criminal who’s only links are those in the criminal underworld, he has forged associations on the inside that allowed him to survive but which also removed his past identity. Now a million miles away from the life he had, not to mention his wife and grown-up son, he’s reluctant to reconnect with the past and instead launches himself into a life of crime…
Palm Springs (15) (2020) (Amazon Prime)
New to Amazon, this refreshing romcom is a fun, deep take on the time-loop theme. Wedding guests Nyles and Sarah (a terrific Christina Milioti and Andy Samberg) find love amidst the family squabbles and champagne at a wedding in the desert resort of Palm Springs. She’s the sister of the bride, cynically sleeping around and drinking her way through her days, and he’s the bored boyfriend of the bride’s best friend. After the pair hook up at the end of the night, Nyles is mysteriously murdered whilst Sarah hides out in a strange cave. Then she wakes up, forced to relive the same day, and trapped with Nyles. Can the pair find a way out – and do they even want to?!
We’d love to hear what you think of the films we recommend – let us know!
See you next week,
Chris & Jonny