Copilot (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide and digital platforms including BFI Player

This weekend we’re 20 years on from the 9/11 attacks, and this new German drama adds an intriguing wrinkle in cinema’s attempts to grapple with aspects of the tragedy. Anne Zohra Berrached’s film imagines a speculative backstory to the life of one of the United 93 hijackers – and a romantic backstory at that. Despite the modern setting, Copilot is something like the 1940s tradition of ‘female gothic’ thrillers in which a woman increasingly comes to suspect something sinister of her new husband. In this case, it’s Turkish medical student Asli (Canan Kir) who falls for Lebanese idealist Saeed (Roger Azar) but grows anxious about his potential double life when he begins spouting extreme views and disappears for long stretches. 

25th Hour (2002)

Where’s it on? Disney+

25th Hour (2002)

Among the first Hollywood films to register the horrific impact of 9/11 was this urgent drama from Spike Lee. Lee was already at work on the film at the time of the attacks, but chose to work elements of the aftermath into the film, including shots of Ground Zero and glimpses of ‘wanted’ posters for Osama Bin Laden. Indeed the whole movie plays as a sustained requiem, following Edward Norton’s convicted drug felon as he enjoys one last night of freedom before seven years of incarceration. Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Barry Pepper are the childhood friends he chooses to spend it with, while Rosario Dawson is the faithful girlfriend he begins to suspect ratted on him. It’s a film steeped in the dark mood of a wounded city, and remains one of Lee’s finest hours.

The Servant (1963)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Returning to cinemas as a sprightly 58-year-old with a natty 4K makeover, this upstairs-downstairs drama is one of the great British films of the 1960s. The first of American director Joseph Losey’s vital collaborations with playwright Harold Pinter, it sees Dirk Bogarde essaying the role of slippery manservant Hugo Barrett. Barrett uses his new job in the home of upper-class Tony (James Fox) to tip the balance of power in an insidious waging of psychological warfare against the richer man. Roads lead out from here to the likes of Performance (1970), which has Fox losing his grip to Mick Jagger instead, and all the way to Parasite (2019), with its similar story of class terrorism at home. Jazz legends John Dankworth (who wrote the score) and Davy Graham can be spotted in bit parts.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Where’s it on? Film4, Friday, 11.05pm

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Trim the New Hollywood era of its road movies and couple-on-the-run films and it would become a much slimmer proposition. Not daunted by Terrence Malick’s directorial debut with Badlands the previous year, former screenwriter Michael Cimino made his directing bow with this breezy buddy movie teaming megastar Clint Eastwood with the young Jeff Bridges. Bridges plays a petty thief who falls in with Eastwood’s bank robber on a series of heists through Montana’s big sky country. Played for comedy and larks, it’s among the most purely enjoyable of its kind thanks to the easy chemistry between its two leads. Bridges picked up an Oscar nomination, while Cimino was just a film away from the awards glory of The Deer Hunter (1977).

A London Trilogy (2003-07)

Where’s it on? BFI Player and BFI Southbank

What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (2005)

With the unveiling of the new film accompanying Saint Etienne’s album I’ve Been Trying to Tell You this weekend, it’s worth wandering back through the indie pop band’s long-running association with quirky documentary fare. The loosely linked London trilogy comprises 2003’s Finisterre, 2005’s What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? and 2007’s This Is Tomorrow – each in different ways charting the changing face of the capital, what Londoners have lost in the process of redevelopment, and what they’ve gained. For fans of the sort of psychogeographic cinema mapped out by the likes of Patrick Keiller and Andrew Kötting, these are an easy next detour. Like the new film, Finisterre was the result of a band being too ambitious to create something as off-the-shelf as a music video. Director Paul Kelly took a music video budget and created something much more ambitious: a poetic ode to London’s forgotten places.