The Quiet Girl (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide and Curzon on Demand

This quiet miracle of a film is the debut feature by Colm Bairéad. Adapted from the novella Foster by Claire Keegan, it’s set over the long, hot summer when an introverted 10-year-old girl, Cáit (Catherine Clinch), is packed off by her neglectful parents to stay with childless relatives on their farm. What unfolds is something like My Neighbour Totoro without the enchanted creatures. Each frame of Kate McCullough’s sunlit cinematography breathes its own kind of magic though; there’s care in every composition. Bairéad has created an affecting diary of childhood trauma and precarious happiness that feels like it should have always existed. 

Kes (1969)

Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Saturday, 10.50pm

Kes (1969)

For tales of solitary children in the countryside, you might consider double billing The Quiet Girl with Ken Loach’s classic Kes, which screens on Talking Pictures TV on Saturday. Adapted from Barry Hines’ novel about a South Yorkshire boy who finds and trains a kestrel, it features a raw and ferociously compelling performance from David Bradley as the lad let down by his schooling and facing diminished employment prospects. Capturing the wildness of the Yorkshire moors, the landscape photography by debut cinematographer Chris Menges makes this one of Loach’s most cinematic films. Half a century on, it still looks like a classic.

’Round Midnight (1986)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

’Round Midnight (1986)
© Criterion

Bertrand Tavernier’s ode to the jazz scene in Paris in the 1950s stars legendary saxophonist Dexter Gordon as a fusion of his peers Lester Young and Bud Powell. Steeped in smoky ambience, it sees Gordon’s Dale Turner leaving New York to head for the City of Lights in order to tie down a steady income playing at the Blue Note jazz café. Struggling with alcohol addiction, he befriends a young French jazz enthusiast played by François Cluzet, soon going to live with him. Gordon was Oscar-nominated for his world-weary turn, while Herbie Hancock won for his sultry score. We also get Martin Scorsese cropping up as Turner’s American manager.

In Which We Serve (1942)

Where’s it on? BBC Two, Saturday, 2.10pm

In Which We Serve (1942)

The first of the four classic collaborations between Noël Coward and David Lean, which also brought us Blithe Spirit and Brief Encounter (both 1945), In Which We Serve was Lean’s first turn in the director’s chair, having previously worked as an editor. “This is the story of a ship” goes the opening narration – and that it is. The narrative follows HMS Torrin from the shipbuilding yard to fateful action during the Second World War. The film is made with the pomp you might expect from an Admiralty commission, but also with great narrative fluidity and flair. The ensemble cast includes John Mills, Celia Johnson, Bernard Miles and, making his screen debut, Richard Attenborough. 

We Are Our Mountains (1969)

Where’s it on? Klassiki Online

We Are Our Mountains (1969)

A Simon and Garfunkel song plays over a montage of rockets and concerts and sporting events. Then cut to a remote hillside, where cows stand in geometric patterns and farmers swing scythes at their crop. The implication is clear: the 1960s is happening some place far off. This pastoral satire from Armenian director Henrik Malyan revolves around a dispute between sheep farmers that brings the local police in. Lampooning sheltered parochialism, a conversation between the shepherds early on sees them debating Armenia’s significance in the world (“It’s us and America, right?”). Regarded as a classic of Armenian cinema, it’s pick of the week on the streaming platform Klassiki.