Nightmare Alley (1947)
Where’s it on? Blu-ray
As Guillermo del Toro’s opulent remake enters cinemas, here’s a timely Blu-ray issue of the original 1947 adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s novel. Film noir with a seedy carnival setting, it pitches Tyrone Power in the role now taken up by Bradley Cooper: that of an ambitious carnival barker who connives his way to stardom as ‘The Great Stanton’. Among the glossier noirs, thanks to 20th Century Fox’s usual polish, it nonetheless gets its knees dirty in a tawdry tale of deception and abasement.
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
A palate cleanser before his star-studded new version of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, Belfast is Kenneth Branagh’s memoir of his own youth growing up in the Northern Irish capital. His alter ego is Bud, a young lad discovering cinema and first love in a city embroiled in some of the most turbulent years of the Troubles. Like a glossier version of an early Terence Davies film, Branagh’s film seems also to have been inspired by Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, its youthful memories brought to life in similarly sharp and sweeping black and white. Expect this to feature heavily in the awards nominations next month.
The Epic of Everest (1924)
Where’s it on? BFI Player
Some of the earliest feature-length documentaries took cameras to the extremes of the planet. This 1924 film was the official record of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine’s Mount Everest expedition, billing itself as “a story of the adventures of explorers in a far-off land and their bold endeavour to reach the top of the world”. Nearly 100 years old now, its transporting images of glaciers and forbidding rock faces were restored by the BFI National Archive in 2013 and presented with an atmospheric score by Simon Fisher Turner. You can see it now on BFI Player as part of the new To the Ends of the Earth collection.
The Souvenir (2019)
Where’s it on? BBC2, Sunday, 10pm
With The Souvenir Part II due in cinemas in February, BBC2 have this handy opportunity to catch up with part one of Joanna Hogg’s rites-of-passage drama. Both are drawn from Hogg’s own life as a film student in 1980s London, with the first film focusing on her consuming relationship with a dashing, well-to-do but troubled Foreign Office worker, played charismatically by Tom Burke. Honor Swinton Byrne is Hogg’s alter ego Julie, while the star’s real-life mum Tilda Swinton plays her mother. It topped the Sight and Sound films-of-the-year poll in 2019, just as Part II would in 2021.
Shallow Grave (1994)
Where’s it on? Film4, Sunday, 1.10am
Now not far off its 30th birthday, Shallow Grave is the film that announced Danny Boyle as Britain’s hottest new director and made a star of Ewan McGregor. Bigger things were ahead for them both with Trainspotting (1996), but this edgy, comic thriller retains its grip. McGregor is one of three Edinburgh flatmates – with Kerry Fox and Christopher Eccleston – who are on the hunt for a fourth. It’s Keith Allen’s man of mystery who moves in, but when he’s found dead from an overdose the trio conspire to get rid of the body and keep the cash they find stashed in his room.