This Week’s Film Picks

A new Woody Allen release, two great director talks and my picks for the week.

Author: John Morgan-Tamosunas
Thursday, 4 June 2020

This week three directors, one young and at the start of her career, one elderly but still making a film a year and sadly the third passed away last year.

Over the decades the films of Woody Allen have been praised to the heavens and also trashed by critics and the public alike. In recent years his films are no longer guaranteed a cinema release, even in calmer times. As I haven’t seen his latest offering A Rainy Day In New York, I won’t be putting it on my list of recommended film this week. But it’s available from the Jewish Film Festival to rent so, if you are a devotee, try it out. It isn’t scheduled to have a cinema release: A Rainy Day in New York – UK Jewish Film

Iconic French director Agnes Varda sadly died last year after a brilliant innovative career. Here from the vaults of the French Institute is a presentation she gave, well worth thirty minutes of your time: Agnès presents Varda: Tales of a Visual Artist on Vimeo

One of this year’s most powerful films, Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, will find its way to you one way or another. Director Eliza Hittman’s searing story of a pregnant teenager’s quest for an abortion has rightly picked up wards at both Sundance and Berlin. It is on rental platforms but at an eye watering £16.99. I am optimistic Watermans will bring it to you soon, but before that, here is a fascinating interview with the director: Eliza Hittman’s eight-year journey to make ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ | Features | Screen
And now onto my four choices for this week.


Streaming on BBC iPlayer. Free.

From Spain’s most famous director Pedro Almodóvar, a restrained and highly polished drama about a mother daughter relationship gone sour, the reasons it happened, and the life the mother has lived without her daughter. Perfect storytelling from one of world cinema’s masters.


The Orphanage

Streaming now on Mubi. 7 day free trial.

A favorite of Mark Kermode and who am I to disagree. Set in Afghanistan, a young streetwise, parentless petty thief is sent to the titular Orphanage. Here he lives two lives, the real one of tough love and harsh times. Then a fantasy one fueled by Bollywood films he has seen, and in which, of course he plays the hero.


Withnail and I

Streaming now on All4. Free.

This is a classic Marmite film, you either love it, and have your favorite scene or line of dialogue, or you wonder what all the fuss is about and switch off when people sing its praises. Try it for yourself if you haven’t already! In the film that made the name of Richard E Grant (and some would say he never lived down), two out-of-work London-based actors head off to Uncle Monty’s hideaway cottage “Up North” and into a series of surreal experiences.


Secrets and Lies

Streaming now on Curzon Home Cinema. £3.99.

Mike Leigh had been creating his own unique brand of English drama films for television and then cinema for nearly twenty years before this Cannes award-winner (and Oscar nominee) broke him internationally. As the title implies, family skeletons pop out of closets, and old scars are scratched in a moving and also hilarious study of family life.


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