If Beale Street Could Talk (Amazon Prime – 2018 – 119 mins)
If you’ve ever wondered what sumptuous cinematography looks like, this is the film to watch. James Laxton‘s camera work here is as astonishing as it was when he collaborated with director Barry Jenkins on the Oscar-winning Moonlight. This film, the story of a pregnant young woman (KiKi Layne) and her family trying to prove the innocence of her childhood friend turned lover (Stephan James), is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. Majestic filmmaking.
Your Name (Netflix – 2016 – 106 mins)
This week, the spot for underseen romantic comedy goes to this wonderful Japanese animation that blends romance, comedy and science fiction so beautifully. Two strangers find themselves linked in the most unexpected way. A connection forms between them, quickly and deeply, but what is keeping them apart. Think Freaky Friday meets [title of a film that would spoil it]. Epically sound tracked too.
Tamara Drewe (Amazon Prime – 2010 – 107 mins)
If hearing of a British movie that satirises suburbia and the intellectual set, featuring Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, Dominic Cooper, Tamsin Greig and Luke Evans – then I’m not sure what’s wrong with you..! Very funny, yet tragic, with fantastic performances – such a treat.
The Last Tree (Netflix – 2019 – 98 mins)
Femi’s (Tai Golding) happy childhood in the countryside with his white foster mum (Denise Black) comes to an abrupt end when his mother (Gbemisola Ikumelo) decides to take him back to London. Now in his teens (Samuel Adewunmi) Femi finds himself uncertain about who he is and drawn to making the wrong choices. A moving and powerful film, filled with quiet rage.
The Handmaiden (Netflix – 2016 – 145 mins)
This South Korean erotic thriller (which is very much an 18 for a reason) is based on the 2002 novel Fingersmith by Welsh writer Sarah Waters. Set in Korea, under Japanese colonial rule, a woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her. A rapturously seductive slow burn watch.
Tucked (Netflix – 2018 – 80 mins)
Tucked isn’t the kind of film to reinvent the wheel, it’s the familiar tale of a curmudgeonly loner (Derren Nesbitt) taking a naïve newbie (Jordan Stephens) under their wing – this time in the drag world. But it’s done so well by writ-redirector Jamie Patterson that it’s so bloomin’ charming. Just a lovely, quietly pulls-at-your-heart-strings-and-tear-ducts watch.
Spy (Netflix – 2015 – 120 mins)
After doing recommendations like this weekly since the start of Lockdown plus the intermittent recommendations the past two years, I can say with some certainty that a good comedy is hard to find. Having rewatched this recently, I can confirm this is one of them. Melissa McCarthy is a the desk-bound CIA analyst for superspy Jude Law, but when she volunteers to go undercover she must infiltrate the world of arms dealing and prevent global disaster. Allison Janney, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Bobby Cannavale and my spirit animal Miranda Hart round up this fantastic cast.