IWOW: I Walk on Water (2020)
Where’s it on? BFI Player
“You’re not going to do another film about Harlem?” we hear the voice of the filmmaker’s mother ask him at one point during the rush of sounds and images that comprise Khalik Allah’s epic new feature IWOW: I Walk on Water. It’s a fair question. Allah made his name with the 2015 documentary Field Niggas (initially released for free on YouTube before festivals got interested) and the 2017 photography book Souls against the Concrete, both of which saw him turning his lens on the street dwellers frequenting the notorious corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York. Across an imposing 3 hours and 20 minutes, IWOW sees Allah returning to the same corner for a far more expansive document of the junction’s nocturnal comings and goings, and of marginal lives wracked by drink, drugs and misfortune. Yet Allah puts more of himself into the mix this time, stirring in Jonas Mekas-style diaristic footage and sound recordings of his interactions with his mum and his girlfriend. These contribute to the sense of IWOW being as much a work of autobiography and a film about its own making as another of his hypnotically unvarnished walks on the wild side.
Where’s it on? BBC2, Sunday, 1.55am
Never one for staying still, French director François Ozon rivals our own Michael Winterbottom for the sheer variety of projects on his CV and the speed with which he seems to bang them out. Not to get stuck in the rut making the erudite comedies and erotic thrillers that had shaped his 2010s up to this point, he turned his attentions to this very sober, mournful and elegant romantic drama set in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. Shot mainly in black and white and in German, it’s a loose remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 film The Broken Lullaby, in which the widow of a German soldier is visited by a Frenchman claiming to have been an old friend of her husband’s. The cleverly titled Frantz is about the process of healing between two nations that are no longer at war with each other – the lingering enmity, distrust and the possibility for renewed connection. Visually the film recalls Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon (2009) in its monochrome evocation of small-town Germany in the early 20th century, yet Ozon’s approach is much warmer and more humanistic.
Where’s it on? BFI Player
With a new biopic of Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Enfant Terrible) due to screen at this year’s BFI Flare, here’s a chance to see the great German director’s last testament, newly added to BFI Player. Querelle is the final missive in an insanely prolific career, which ended when he died of a drug overdose in 1982 – aged just 37 but with more than 40 features as director to his name. Made in English and entirely on studio sets, it’s one of Fassbinder’s headiest concoctions, an adaptation of Jean Genet’s 1947 novel Querelle of Brest that’s awash in expressionistic colour and delirious homoeroticism. Brad Davis, known previously for straitlaced fare like Midnight Express (1978) and Chariots of Fire (1981), plays the hunky sailor who weighs anchor in the Brittany port town of Brest and gravitates towards the bar and bordello run by Jeanne Moreau’s Madame Lysiane. So begins a lusty odyssey through the nocturnal underbelly of a town with penis-shaped battlements, which takes in drug deals, murder and plenty of polyamorous sexual rivalry. Everything is lit with a gangrenous glow of orange and yellow, as if the docksides are permanently bathed in a sickly sunset. The sheer singularity of Querelle makes it an essential experience – it’s a cinematic orchid with an almost overwhelming scent.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Where’s it on? BBC2, Saturday, 11pm
The ‘final cut’ of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam war epic gets a Saturday night airing on TV this weekend – that is Coppola’s preferred 2019 version, which at around 3 hours is still a good bit longer than the original release cut, but shorter than the so-called ‘redux’ version he released in 2001. Whichever way Coppola slices it, though, Apocalypse Now remains one of the landmarks of modern American cinema, a film caught between madness and genius as it follows Martin Sheen’s young Captain Willard on a journey upriver through war-torn Vietnam in search of the renegade Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). One of the first major Hollywood films to (belatedly) tackle the war, it was the result of a mythically protracted and bedevilled shoot in the jungles of south-east Asia – the circumstances of which later became the subject of Eleanor Coppola’s documentary Hearts of Darkness (1991). Coppola emerged from it all not with an anti-war statement exactly, but with a shell-shocked vision of warfare defined by the hellish beauty of its explosions. It’s a trip into the inferno, scored to a soundtrack including Wagner and The Doors.
I Care a Lot (2020)
Where’s it on? Amazon Prime
This gleefully twisty and twisted thriller arrived on Amazon Prime last week and is worth a spin if you haven’t seen it yet. In a return to the glassy femme fatale mode of Gone Girl (2014), Rosamund Pike plays the scheming con artist who tricks her way to legal guardianship over a succession of elderly people – getting them put into care and then stripping their assets for profit. She might seem to have bitten off more than she can chew when her latest victim (Dianne Wiest) turns out to have ties with the Russian mafia, except that Pike’s Marla Grayson has such a bullet-proof armour of toxic self-belief and self-interest that she looks ready to take on interference of any stripe. She’s a terrifying creation, and J Blakeson’s tonally uneven film feels so properly seduced by Pike’s delicious turn that it often seems to be taking her side in the ensuing showdown – when all you want to do is hiss. Peter Dinklage plays the mafioso who’s met his match.