5 things to watch this Easter weekend – 29 March to 1 April

An odyssey through America’s oddball east, a murderous life story told backwards, and the return of an Ealing caper. What are you watching this Easter?

28 March 2024

By Sam Wigley

The Sweet East (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide 

From The Last Detail (1973) to Something Wild (1986), America’s eastern seaboard has seen its fair share of memorable road trip movies. This debut feature by the estimable cinematographer Sean Price Williams, known for his work with the Safdie brothers among others, is a full-scale 21st-century picaresque, following high-school student Lillian (Talia Ryder) as she bounces from one eccentric, off-the-beaten-track encounter to the next, crossing paths with a succession of oddballs, cultists and political extremists. Scripted by film critic Nick Pinkerton, it’s a ragged, free-wheeling, frequently uproarious journey down the rabbit hole. Williams has noted Lindsay Anderson’s satirical adventure O Lucky Man! (1973) as an guiding influence.

Happy End (1967)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Happy End (1967)

For outbursts of unfettered cinematic creativity, few times and places can rival the liberalising Czechoslovakia in the run up to the Prague Spring of 1968. Oldřich Lipský’s 1967 film Happy End is a typically exhilarating Czech New Wave work – a film with an idea so bold and loopy, it can make you giddy. Telling the life story of a butcher backwards, from his execution to his birth, it actually runs the footage backwards too, so we see all the action in reverse. When he kills his unfaithful wife, we first see the dismembered limbs before they are all magically fitted together into a living person again. His whole life rushes before us with a kind of zany, Dadaist energy and with a conceptual brilliance that Christopher Nolan would have been proud of. Is it a one-off gimmick or a profound, topsy-turvy way of examining the choreography of a life?

Silver Haze (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Drawing on her own life experience and trauma, Silver Haze sees Vicky Knight playing a 23-year-old nurse, Franky, who is still struggling with her need for justice and revenge for a pub arson attack that left her severely burnt 15 years previously. A sombre drama about damaged lives that tackles the difficulties Franky has building relationships and moving on, it’s Knight’s second collaboration with Dutch filmmaker Sacha Polak, who previously directed her in the 2019 acid-attack drama Dirty God. A glimmer of hope, albeit of an erratic kind, comes for Franky when she begins a relationship with a former patient, Florence (Esme Creed-Miles). Among the film’s vivid sketches of troubled souls, Angela Bruce gives a lovely, affecting performance as Florence’s foster mum, Alice.

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Ahead of 75th anniversary reissues of Ealing’s immortal 1949 trio Kind Hearts and Coronets, Whisky Galore! and Passport to Pimlico, StudioCanal is giving this slightly later Ealing comedy another go in cinemas – now in the requisite 4K restoration. In this cheerful, ever entertaining caper movie, Alec Guinness plays the bank clerk with a sideline in smuggling gold bullion in the shape of Eiffel Tower souvenirs – just the sort of underdog rebellion against stuffy authority that was the stock in trade of the Ealing comedy. The Vatican still approved though, placing it on its 1995 list of 45 great films. Stanley Holloway, Alfie Bass and Sid James are Guinness’s partners in crime, while there’s also a small, very early role for the young Audrey Hepburn.

Of Time and the City (2008)

Where’s it on? BFI Player

Of Time and the City (2008)
Preserved by the BFI National Archive

This very personal documentary tribute to his home city of Liverpool ended eight years in ‘director jail’ for the late Terence Davies when he had bafflingly struggled to find funding for new projects following the release of his sublime Edith Wharton adaptation The House of Mirth (2000). A collage work made up of newsreels and other archive footage, Of Time and the City offers Davies’s own wryly humorous, acerbic and affectionate voiceover about the places he grew up in and the social history of the city. It spares its most infamous barb for a certain local moptop band he simply has no time for (“Yeah, yeah, yeah…”, he dismisses), but like each of his dramatic films it comes packed with music he does love: from Peggy Lee to his beloved Brahms.