5 things to watch this bank holiday weekend – 25 to 28 August

Tantalising noir, summerhouse drama and the ultimate road movie comedy: a handful of weekend viewing recommendations.

25 August 2023

By Sam Wigley

Afire (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

A summerhouse on the Baltic coast becomes a tinderbox of artistic insecurity and sexual tension in this latest drama from the brilliant German filmmaker Christian Petzold. Two friends – one with a novel to write – arrive at their getaway to find Paula Beer’s erudite ice cream seller Nadja already making herself at home. Pompous writer Leon (Thomas Schubert) can’t help but be distracted, even as the more easy-going Felix (Langston Uibel) casually outstrips him in the inspiration stakes. Meanwhile, local wildfires seem to be inching ever closer. A carefully calibrated study in male ego and pride, Afire follows Petzold’s watery fantasy Undine (2020) in a proposed trilogy inspired by the three elements.

Commedia all’italiana: Three Films by Dino Risi

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Il sorpasso (1962)

Best watched on a hot summer night, aperitivo in hand, the supreme Italian road movie/comedy Il sorpasso throws together an unassuming law student (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and an impulsive guy called Bruno (Vittorio Gassman) on a spontaneous car trip out of Rome and along the coasts of Lazio and Tuscany. It’s been bundled together for this enticing Blu-ray package with two more films by director Dino Risi – Il vedovo (The Widower, 1959) and Il mattatore (Love and Larceny, 1960) – all examples of the boisterous, spicy and very popular 1950s/60s tradition of commedia all’italiana (or comedy, Italian-style). 

Scrapper (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide, including BFI Southbank

In a row of terraced council houses painted in Neapolitan ice-cream colours, 10-year-old Georgia (newcomer Lola Campbell) is living under the radar of social services. Her mum died recently, but she gets by by stealing bikes – or attempting to – with her pal Ali (Alin Uzun). Charlotte Regan’s feisty debut feature charts the father-daughter bond that has to develop from scratch after Georgia’s long lost dad (Harris Dickinson) turns up and barters his way into her life. Avoiding the miserabilism of so many British social realist dramas, Scrapper tackles grief and broken family dynamics, but with an eye on fun and a sense of plucky optimism.

D.O.A. (1949)

Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Monday, 6am

D.O.A. (1949)

“I want to report a murder,” Edmond O’Brien’s businessman announces as D.O.A. begins. Who was murdered?, he’s asked. “I was,” he replies. As ways to get a film started go, this classic 1949 film noir takes some beating. The title stands for ‘dead on arrival’, and O’Brien’s suit knows he’s doomed. Someone slipped some poison into his drink in a nightclub, and the doctors have told him no there’s no antidote. He has a matter of days to find out who did it, and why. Rudolph Maté’s pulpy suspenser was remade in 1988 with Dennis Quaid in the O’Brien role and Meg Ryan playing the love interest – while the Jason Statham vehicle Crank (2006) also shares D.O.A. DNA.

Three Ages (1923)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Three Ages (1923)

Here’s to Buster Keaton’s feature debut as director as it hits the grand old age of 100. Coming after his immortal run of short, silent comedies, Three Ages was a tentative feature bow, essentially stitching together three short-form tales of amorous endeavour – set in the times of cavemen, Ancient Rome and the roaring 20s – as it parodies the historical anthology structure of D.W. Griffith’s silent epic Intolerance (1916). Newly released on Blu-ray, it plays like an ancestor of Mel Brooks’ or Monty Python’s later escapades in the ancient past, amusingly demonstrating that – in the pursuance of love – little has changed as time’s gone by.

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