Stream On Vol.2

Looking for some film recommendations to get you through the Bank Holiday Weekend? Well, look no further! Here’s five top picks for your delectation. Not enough for you? Check out last week’s edition here.

Saint Frances (2019 – Netflix – 101 mins)

Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) is 34 and hugely adrift, in all aspects of her life. The opportunity arises to nanny a 6 year-old girl (a spectacular Ramona Edith Williams) whose parents are expecting their second child, which is forcing all manner of adjustments for all the family. An unlikely friendship forms between Bridget and Frances, and it’s such a joy to follow. An immensely likeable and utterly charming watch.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016 – Netflix – 104 mins)

Nadine’s (Hailee Steinfeld) life sucks. It’s always been sucky, she’s never quite fitted in or been all that happy – but she had her beloved dad to support her and her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) always by her side. But since her dad’s death it seemed things couldn’t get any worse – until Krista starts dating Nadine’s horrifically popular brother (Blake Jenner). Steinfeld is fantastic as the embittered beyond her years teen, with fantastic supporting performances courtesy of Woody Harrelson as Nadine’s jaded teacher and Hayden Szeto as the would-be friend could-be more – if Nadine could finally pay attention to anyone but herself. A classic of the teen movie genre.

Bumblebee (2018 – Film4 – 114 mins)

Speaking of Hailee Steinfeld, she’s also fantastic in this sci-fi gem which just happens to be the finest of the Transformers franchise. By a long, long, long shot. It feels like a throwback to vintage Spielberg, a lost teen finding solace and a sense of self in a new-found friendship with a being from another planet. The soundtrack is an 80s fest banger – if you’re looking for an action packed romp packed full of heart, this is the droid (Autobot) you’re looking for.

The Mauritanian (2021 – Amazon Prime – 129 mins)

Based on a true story, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) was detained and imprisoned by the US government for years without charge and without trial. Lawyers Nancy (Jodie Foster) and Teri (Shailene Woodley) are fighting for his freedom. Military prosecutor Stuart (Benedict Cumberbatch) is fighting for the death penalty. A riveting legal drama that is at times difficult to watch, packed full of excellent performances – Rahim is a charismatic powerhouse, able to convey harrowing depths with his extraordinary performance.

The Way, Way Back (2013 – Disney+ – 103 mins)

With summer on it’s way, why not watch this underseen gem which is one of the finest coming of age movies of the 21st Century? Duncan (Liam James) is being forced to spend his summer vacation with his mum Pam (Toni Collette) and her newish boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell). Whilst he’d much rather be spending the holidays with his dad, he’s forced into a strange role of not-quite child and not-quite adult attending hangouts with Trent’s friends (Allison Janney, Rob Corddry and Amanda Peet) and feeling fully isolated. A job offer from unexpected friend and water park manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) offers escape but the possibilities of so much more. I cannot sing the praises of this film often enough. Just wonderful.

Stream On Vol.1

After a longer than planned or intended break, it’s time for me to get back to my weekly film recommendations. Along the lines of my previous feature Something To Watch Saturdays (all available here), each week I’ll suggest 5 film recommendations from your favourite streaming sites to keep you entertained till UK cinemas reopen on May 17th (51 days folks). Now under a new name, that should be sung to the tune of this Aerosmith banger. If you decide to watch any of the below, let me know your thoughts by getting in touch via twitter or Instagram at @sometimesmovies. Now, time to Stream On…

Blinded By The Light (2019 – 118 minutes – Netflix)

In England in 1987, a teenager from an Asian family learns to live his life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of American rock star Bruce Springsteen. Partially based on a true story, that of writer Sarfraz Manzoor, the result is a film that is so charming and feelgood, and nigh-on impossible not to be charmed by.

The Sisters Brothers (2018 – 122 minutes – Netflix)

John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed in a familiar yet often unexpected Western journey. Unique in tone – think buddy road trip, meets oddball humour and the brutality of the Wild West – this one that fully went under the radar upon release and really deserves a visit.

Love & Mercy (2014 – 113 minutes – BBC iplayer)

Quite possibly the finest music biopic from the past decade – at least – we follow Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson in both the 60s (when played by Paul Dano) and the 80s (John Cusack). In both eras he is a man on the edge, broken by mental health issues and addiction, to heartbreaking extents. An extraordinarily and inanimate look at the life of a musical pioneer, whose beach soundtracks belied much darkness.

One Night In Miami… (2020 – 114 minutes – Amazon Prime)

Based on a play, covering a factional night where Malcom X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) got together, this film is packed full of powerhouse performances. Reflecting on the Civil Rights Movement and the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, particularly America but in turn around the world, Regina King has directed a sublimely reflective film about the notion of celebrity and influence. Something of a slow burn, loaded with one-two gut punches. Very moving.

Dreams Of A Life (2011 – 95 minutes – All4)

Joyce Vincent’s died in a London bedsit in 2003. Her body wasn’t found for three years. With this part-documentary/part-drama, Carol Morley explores Vincent’s life, how a vivacious and much-loved woman could have been left for so long-unnoticed, through insights from her friends and family & recreation from Zawe Ashton as Vincent. A remarkable and essential watch.

20 from 2020: My favourite films of the year and where to find them

It’s the last day of the year, and I’ve put off doing this list for long enough. Instead of doing a top ten films of the year, I’ve decided to do a bumper addition. 2020 brought few joys with it but quality books (as demonstrated here) and films were not in short supply. So, in no particular order, here’s my 20 films of the year. (Two disclaimers: These are of the films I’ve seen, there’s a few I just haven’t been able to fit in yet so there are a few blindspots. I’ve gone for UK release date – either in cinema or VOD where applicable.)

FilmRunning TimeAvailable to watch Current priceMy review?
The Personal History Of David Copperfield119 minsAmazon Primeincl. in subscription Film Stories
A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood 109 mins Sky/NOWtv incl. in subscription Feature in FS #11
Parasite132 mins  Amazon Prime incl. in subscription 
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire122 mins  AmazonMUBI add-on (free 7 day trial, then £9.99 a month) 
Emma. 124 minsSky/NOWtv incl. in subscription  Film Stories
Ema 107 mins ALL4Free  
The Assistant87 mins Sky/NOWtv   incl. in subscription  
Clemency 112 mins Sky/NOWtv incl. in subscription   
Saint Frances101 mins  CurzonRent for £1.99  
Perfect 10 83 minsBBC iplayer Free  
Babyteeth118 mins  Netflix incl. in subscription   
Les Miserables 104 minsNetflix incl. in subscription    
The Broken Hearts Gallery 109 mins AmazonPre-order for Jan 4th, £9.99 to buy  
Rocks93 mins  Netflixincl. in subscription    Movies on Weekends
THE FORTY YEAR OLD VERSION123 mins  Netflixincl. in subscription   
Lovers Rock 70 minsBBC iplayer Free  
County Lines 90 mins BFI playerRent for £10  Feature in #21 of FS
Boys State 109 mins Apple Tv+incl. in subscription    
Wolfwalkers 103 minsApple Tv+ incl. in subscription     
The Invisible Man 123 minsSky/NOWtv incl. in subscription    

TV Tuesday #1

As there’s a good chance any of us will be watching a *lot* more telly over the coming month, I thought I’d start up with some recommendations again. So begins this new feature (which I like to sing to the tune of Ruby Tuesday by The Rolling Stones). Each week I’ll pick three tv series – most likely at random – that I think may appeal for all manner of reasons…

The West Wing (1999 – 2006)

7 seasons – 156 episodes – Free on All4

I’ve always wanted to watch The West Wing as I was always certain I’d love it. Why? ‘Because I’m a lily-livered, bleeding-heart, liberal, egghead communist.’ Shying away from the commitment of buying on DVD or VOD, I hoped I’d get around to it at some point. Then, on October 21st 2020, all 156 episodes dropped on All4. And fellows, it is *everything* everyone has ever said about it and more. It’s superbly written, constructed and performed. It’s been optimistic balm for this weary soul (which may have inadvertently made the fast-approaching US election result even more terrifying). I’m 22 episodes in, I fancy and am in love with pretty much all of the cast at this point, have felt weepy on average once an episode and sobbed my way through one truly masterful episode that might just have been the most perfect piece of TV I have ever seen. In short? Go watch it, then let’s walk and talk.

Below Deck (2013 – )

105+ episodes : Season 1, 2 and 3 Amazon Prime (Season 4 onwards requires hayu subscription)

And now for something very different, something which I’m still trying to pinpoint how and why I am so addicted to. I started to work it out in this VodZilla article for the similarly themed Selling Sunset but it’s still not conclusive. Is it the exotic locations? The guests who are varying degrees of trash? The crew who can be varying degrees of trash? The work-place conflict? The 21st Century Marie Antoinette levels of excess and indulgence? Or all of the above? I binged this like I have never binged before. I thought season 1 was okay, but once I found out the fact the guests have no inkling of the crew’s dramas I was sold (competence and professionalism ftw!) It’s just so good guys, but I think you need to indulge to truly believe it. Pure trashy reality tv that I’d like plugged into my veins during this difficult time. Oh, and if approx. 5250 minutes (and counting) of this tropical trash is not enough for you, Amazon also has both Below Deck spinoffs Mediterranean (85 episodes) and Sailing Yacht (17 episodes).

Lovesick (2014 – 2018)

3 series : 22 episodes : Netflix

A lot of people got put off this show with it’s series one title of ‘Scrotal Recall’ (which, child that I am, still makes me smirk each time I say it..) which is a real shame as this show started out rather brilliantly then became something so beautiful and profound. It’s the story of Dylan (Johnny Flynn, swoon) testing positive for an STD and deciding to use the informing his exes of his status as an opportunity to find out where he went wrong in their relationships. Along for the journey are his housemates Luke (Daniel Ings, swoon) and Evie (Antonia Thomas, swoon). The result is a realistic romantic comedy, funny and sweet yet occasionally dark and melancholy. It’s well-written, charming and immensely feelgood.