5 things to watch this weekend – 2 to 4 June

An FBI interrogation plays out word for word, while Shane Meadows conjures counterfeiters and moor roamers in 18th-century Yorkshire.

2 June 2023

By Sam Wigley

The Gallows Pole (2023)

Where’s it on? BBC iPlayer

A ragtag band of 18th-century counterfeiters are the subject of this three-part miniseries from Shane Meadows – his first period production, unless you count This Is England. The Gallows Pole is based on Benjamin Myers’ 2017 novel of the same name, itself based on real-life figures who found an illicit alternative means of income in West Yorkshire at a time when the industrial revolution was destroying traditional manual trades. In the first episode (all three are now on iPlayer), David Hartley (Meadows regular Michael Socha) returns to his home village after years of unexplained absence. His father is dying, the community is out of work, and a mysterious troupe of ‘stag men’ – decked out in furs and deer skulls – are haunting the moors.

Reality (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide, including BFI Southbank

Here is a grippingly odd and tense work of re-enactment, its script derived from an FBI interrogation transcript. Reality Winner is the extraordinarily named US intelligence translator and whistleblower who, in 2017, leaked secret government documents regarding purported Russian interference in the 2016 American election. Derived from the play Is This a Room (which Reality director Tina Satter previously put on stage), the film takes place in something like real time, entirely in Winner’s house and on her driveway, and simply restages, moment by moment, the visit from two noticeably polite but exacting FBI agents and their confrontation with Winner (a brilliant, poker-faced performance from Sydney Sweeney). 

Le Mépris (1963)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide, including BFI Southbank

Jean-Luc Godard’s great film takes place over some sun-scorched days in Capri. We hear French, Italian, English and German dialogue as a multinational film crew embarks on an epic adaptation of The Odyssey. Fritz Lang (playing himself) is at the helm. He quotes Hölderlin, but his American producer (Jack Palance) just wants more naked mermaids. Meanwhile, a marriage is coming apart: contempt replaces tenderness between a screenwriter (Michel Piccoli) and his wife (Brigitte Bardot). Its CinemaScope frames give Le Mépris the look of a Vincente Minnelli melodrama, as JLG muses on antiquity and modernity, art and commerce, the gods and cinema. The 60-year-old film is back, and newly restored.

Genevieve (1953)

Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Sunday, 7pm

Genevieve (1953)

The best Ealing comedy Ealing never made turned 70 at the end of May. Henry Cornelius – otherwise best known for official Ealing entry Passport to Pimlico (1949) – directs this cheerful account of a London to Brighton vintage car race, with John Gregson, Dinah Sheridan, Kenneth More and Kay Kendall playing rival husband-and-wife motoring enthusiasts. Genevieve pits the eponymous 1904 Darracq against a 1905 Spyker – first to Brighton, then, following an impetuous bet, racing back to be the “first over Westminster Bridge”. Chugging amiably along to a score by American harmonica ace Larry Adler, it’s an all-too-rare example of a British road movie, shot in glorious Technicolor so the cars really gleam.

The Nutty Professor (1963)

Where’s it on? 4K UHD

The Nutty Professor (1963)

The luggage carousel of anniversary reissues also brings this spanking new edition of Jerry Lewis’s spin on the Jekyll and Hyde story: a frantic, garish, surreal whirlwind in which Lewis himself plays the nerdy, bullied university scientist who invents a serum that transforms him into a strutting jock and ladies man. The Nutty Professor was remade in the 1990s with Eddie Murphy in the dual lead, but accept no substitute for Lewis’s bedazzling original – a comic-coloured pop-art masterpiece in which giggles, groans and sharp satirical swipes come at us at a manic pace. Watch out for Richard Kiel – future Bond nemesis Jaws – playing a bodybuilder.

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