5 things to watch this weekend – 1 to 3 September

T-rex or tatami mat? Just two of this weekend’s choices...

1 September 2023

By Sam Wigley

Passages (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Ira Sachs is the American director behind softly-spoken NYC indie dramas Love Is Strange (2014) and Little Men (2016), but who now brings us a Paris-set love triangle – no less tender, but with a new steaminess and intensity. Franz Rogowski plays the brooding German filmmaker who ditches his doting English boyfriend (Ben Whishaw) after having his head turned by French teacher Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos), yet finds his desires flip-flopping destructively between the two of them. Already controversial for its explicit sex scene, Sachs’ tale of having cake and eating it plays out against a cool bobo milieu of chic restaurants and electro clubs. 

Tokyo Story (1953)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

The mantle of life and responsibility passing from one generation to the next is one of the major themes of Yasujiro Ozu’s films, often leaving the elders high and dry. In his most lauded film, Tokyo Story, a pair of grandparents visit their grown-up children in Tokyo only to feel sidelined and ignored. Life is busy for working parents, but their ageing folks move at a different pace and keep getting in the way. Now Ozu’s great film is 70 itself, an elder statesman of cinema which returns to screens this week in a 4K restoration. Whichever perspective you bring to its story of the generations, it’s difficult to see this wise film without in some way feeling seen.

The Loneliest Planet (2011)

Where’s it on? Mubi

The Loneliest Planet (2011)

Google’s ‘knowledge panel’ for this 2011 backpacking drama calls it a ‘thriller’, but it’s not that. Not in any conventional sense. In fact, for the first half it’s difficult to tell just exactly what it is. Gael García Bernal and Hani Ferstenberg play an amorous couple who are exploring the lush green vistas of the Caucasus mountains in the company of their Georgian guide. The film proceeds at walking pace, and you wonder where it’s all going. But then, at mid point, there’s a fleeting moment of action and reaction that changes the air. Their trek continues, but everything has irreversibly changed in ways we won’t spoil. The Loneliest Planet never got a UK release, but has now shown up on Mubi. It needs patience, but exerts a strange spell.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Steven Spielberg’s earliest blockbusters divided the fear (Jaws) and wonder (Close Encounters). In 1993, he split the difference with this Jurassic juggernaut, which thrilled audiences with the terror of T-rex attacks but also offered sudden, awe-inspiring spectacles, such as a herd of feeding sauropods. No one had seen dinosaurs looking this realistic on screen before, and Spielberg’s boyish glee at bringing them back to life after 65 million years for this Michael Crichton-derived story of a theme park run amok remains fully infectious. Even three decades and numerous diminishing sequels on.

Elmer Gantry (1960)

Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Sunday, 10pm

Elmer Gantry (1960)

Burt Lancaster won his Oscar playing the cocksure travelling salesman who spies a new way to turn a fast buck by setting himself up as a fire-and-brimstone preacher. He joins Jean Simmons’ saintly evangelist on a tour through the American south, performing on stage to packed audiences of God-fearing gullibles. Richard Brooks’ film adapts a 1927 novel by Sinclair Lewis, setting it in period but finding plenty of contemporary relevance – for the 1960s as for now – in its fiery vision of dangerous charisma and the weaponisation of fear. Lancaster’s blue-eyed magnetism was never put to more lethal use.

BFI Player logo

Discover award-winning independent British and international cinema

Free for 14 days, then £4.99/month or £49/year.

Try for free