5 things to watch this weekend – 26 to 28 April

There’s a bounty of 18 new releases at the cinema this week, while at home we enter the dreams of one of the world’s greatest directors.

That They May Face the Rising Sun (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

A bewildering 18 new films enter UK cinemas this week – not far off the tally of 23 that made headlines in 2015. In between wide releases like Luca Guadagnino’s tennis romance Challengers and the Ariana DeBose space-station thriller I.S.S., there are a slew of smaller films that will reward you seeking them out. Somewhere near the top of the pile is this exquisitely observed rural drama from Irish filmmaker Pat Collins, making the move from documentary. It’s a life-after-London story, but refreshingly free of culture clash clichés, following the lives and community surrounding an artistic couple – a writer and an artist – who’ve returned to live in a quiet Irish hamlet after careers in the big smoke. No great drama awaits them or us: Collins’ film simply traces the becalmed rhythms of their domestic life. Neighbours drop in for conversation. Seasons pass. The film drinks in the beauty of the surrounding countryside and the sounds of nature. Collins’ film is based on the final novel by acclaimed novelist John McGahern and there’s gentle magic in it.

Kidnapped (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

With just over two weeks to go until the Cannes Film Festival, last year’s competition titles are still trickling out into our cinemas. This week brings this handsome, compelling, anger-making period drama from Italian director Marco Bellocchio, coming nearly 60 years after Bellocchio made his name with 1965’s disturbing family drama Fists in the Pocket. With Coppola-level sweep, Kidnapped retells a real episode in Catholic history in the mid-19th century, when a young Jewish boy was taken from his family home in Bologna by the papal authorities and subsequently raised as a Christian. Bellocchio delivers this complex tale of competing faith and family loyalties with some of the compulsive, stranger-than-fiction intrigue of a true-crime drama, borne along by the dark, tidal washes of Rachmaninov’s orchestral tone poem ‘Isle of the Dead’. Bellocchio is one of the very few major European auteurs of the 1960s who are still with us, and Kidnapped counts as a late-career triumph. 

Omen (Augure) (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Another Cannes 2023 holdover is this remarkable debut feature from Belgian-Congolese rapper Baloji, which deservedly won him the New Voice prize in the Un Certain Regard section. Satisfyingly wayward and unpredictable, it begins with a scene with Koffi (Marc Zinga), a Congolese man now resident in Belgium, having his afro shaved off by his white Belgian wife Alice (Lucie Debay) in preparation for a trip back to DRC for her to meet the parents. But once the action switches to Africa, things escalate pretty swiftly: when Koffi has a nosebleed in front of his family, it prompts an instant exorcism attempt as all their old superstitions that an evil eye is watching over him are reawakened. This is all just in the first of the four anthology-style chapters that nudge on the story and introduce us to other satellite characters. Baloji’s film weaves a strange, magical-realist spell with great zest and originality.

Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

I Was Born, But… (1932)

This two-for-one Blu-ray set brings together two dramas about fatherhood whose honest observations about parental fallibility still come close to the bone. I Was Born, But…(1932) is perhaps the most celebrated of all Ozu’s early films, made at the end of Japan’s silent era. With piercing simplicity, this comic drama pinpoints the exact moment when two young brothers realise their father might not be the bullet-proof hero they assumed him to be but rather an ordinary man with a salary to earn and a boss to please. There Was a Father (1942), from a decade later, is similarly frank about disappointment, telling the story of a widower striving to raise his son after leaving his job as a school teacher following a tragic incident on his watch. The disc includes commentaries by critic Adrian Martin and essays by Tony Rayns and BFI curator Bryony Dixon.

Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990)

Where’s it on? 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray

Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990)Criterion

Late into his career, and running a triumphal victory lap following the international acclaim for his magisterial King Lear adaptation Ran (1985), Japanese director Akira Kurosawa plundered his own recurring dreams for inspiration for this eye-poppingly colourful anthology film. In eight ravishingly realised vignettes, Dreams lays out a succession of surreal episodes, including such business as a fox’s wedding, a dangerous apparition during a blizzard, a nuclear power plant meltdown creating infernal skies above Mount Fuji, and Martin Scorsese playing Vincent Van Gogh. It’s the work of an ageing master letting his imagination run riot. Not least among the treats on this Criterion Blu-ray edition is a making-of film by a fellow director who is himself no stranger to painted skies and hyperreal vistas: the great Nobuhiko Obayashi.