Cry Macho (2021)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
Cry Macho offers the surreal and surely unprecedented phenomenon of a 91-year-old actor-director still making star vehicles for a big studio. The sheer chutzpah of Clint Eastwood’s late run of room-dividing features has been a joy to hitch along with: this is a living legend trying new things, turning old things inside out and generally not caring a jot where the critical consensus settles. If Clint wants to play a nonagenarian ex-rodeo star whose (unlikely) services are called upon to bring a stray teenager back from Mexico, then who really wants to stop him? Especially when the results offer such an autumnally idiosyncratic new wrinkle in his ongoing negotiation with ideas of heroism, masculinity and his own myth.
Summer with Monika (1953)
Made on the cusp of Ingmar Bergman’s international breakthrough, Summer with Monika did much to crystallise the outsiders’ image of Sweden as a place where skinny-dipping and soul-searching were both equally par for the course. The film begins in a drab suburb of Stockholm, where young lovers Harry (Lars Ekborg) and Monika (Harriet Andersson) are held down by humdrum, dead-end jobs. But after Harry steals his father’s boat, the two head out for a lazy summer in the Swedish archipelago. More permissive in its depiction of nudity than English language fare of the time, Summer with Monika provided a gateway into subtitled cinema for 1950s viewers: come for the flashes of bare flesh, stay for Bergman’s piercing insights into young love and fading innocence.
Where’s it on? Selected cinemas nationwide
Mike Leigh’s Naked returns to cinemas this week, 28 years after its initial release and looking more ferocious than ever. It’s a disturbing nocturnal odyssey in the company of David Thewlis’s ranting, raging, despairing Johnny, who we first meet during a sordid encounter in a Manchester alleyway before following him down to London for a nihilistic walkabout. He’s a combustive ball of fury, invective and deranged philosophising, springing from one toxic encounter to the next like a demented stray dog. Leigh’s fifth theatrical feature marked a step-up in his cinematic ambition and critical profile, winning both best director and best actor at Cannes. It’s now been remastered in 4K by the BFI National Archive.
Friends and Strangers (2021)
Where’s it on? Mubi
Being taken unawares by a film can be a relatively rare experience, but this apparently quite aimless debut feature by Australian director James Vaughan serves it up. In the guise of a deadpan comedy, it follows the lackadaisical (mis)adventures of a twentysomething man as he bumbles around the Sydney area. The summery naturalism puts you in mind of Eric Rohmer or the mumblecore canon, yet an air of intangible anxiety arises from the precise framing of the images and an undercurrent of off-kilter surrealism. In the central sequence in a plush neighbourhood villa, we get what may be the most inspired use of on-screen music in recent memory, and a bit with a painting that instils an odd seasickness about what you think you’ve just seen. Neither should be spoiled.
Dead of Night (1945)
Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Sunday, 1.40pm
This one’s the granddaddy of all horror anthology movies. There’d been brilliant examples made in Germany during the silent era, but this Ealing production set the template for the British strain – the kind from which Amicus made a cottage industry in the 1970s. An architect arrives at a country cottage in Kent only to discover that he’s met the other guests before in his dreams. Four different directors then take the reins as each of the guests in turn tells their own weird story of a spooky experience in their past. The directors were some of Ealing’s best: Alberto Cavalcanti, Robert Hamer, Basil Dearden and Charles Crichton. And the tales they bring to life retain their chill: the ventriloquist’s dummy with a mind of its own, the mirror that retains reflections from the life of a previous owner. Count it as a must see for horror fans.