5 things to watch this weekend – 28 to 30 July

An embalmed hand offers a gateway to the spirit world, while Sofia Coppola’s dreamily dangerous debut returns to cinemas.

28 July 2023

By Sam Wigley

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

With her new biopic of Priscilla Presley set to premiere at Venice in September, here’s a timely reissue and 4K restoration for Sofia Coppola’s gauzily enigmatic debut as director. Kirsten Dunst had her star-making turn playing one of the Lisbon sisters – four girls growing up in a sleepy Michigan neighbourhood in the care of overprotective parents, but who are obsessed over by a group of local boys. Like a dreamy, suburban American cousin to Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, which was made the same year this is set, 1975, Coppola’s film delves into troubling issues of desire, its repression and the darker mysteries of puberty. 

Talk to Me (2022)

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

Gamely venturing out into cinemas laid waste by the Barbenheimer phenomenon, this buzzy Australian scarer is the debut by YouTuber twins Danny and Michael Philippou. There are traces of the dare horror of Candyman (1992) in its tale of a group of Adelaide friends who discover they can conjure dead spirits with the aid of an embalmed hand. They gather around, light a candle, take the strange object in hand and entreat: “Talk to me.” Not unrelated to The Virgin Suicides, the Philippous’ film becomes a disturbing story of experimenting teenagers and the irresistible lure of danger and irresponsibility.

Event Horizon (1997)

Where’s it on? Film4, Saturday, 10.55pm

Event Horizon (1997)

Sinister distress signals are being emitted from a deep-space voyager in this cult 1990s outer-space horror. The Event Horizon disappeared without trace on a mission to Proxima Centauri, but has now mysteriously reappeared in orbit around Neptune. And a massacre seems to have occurred on board. Despite this irresistible plotline, Paul W.S. Anderson’s pulpier cousin to Solaris (1972) proved a flop on release in 1997, but has since found plenty of takers for its Alien-style ‘haunted house in space’ heebie-jeebies. On board for this trip to the edge of the known universe are an engaged cast including Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson and Sean Pertwee.

Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)

Where’s it on? BFI Player

Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)

The vital film about life in Cuba at the time of the revolution, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s classic Memories of Underdevelopment is the story of a bourgeois writer who holds firm in Havana after Fidel Castro seizes power – even while his wife, friends and most of his social peers are fleeing to Miami. It’s a complex character study of a conflicted mind, told in a fragmented, subjective style that also sees Alea incorporating electrifying documentary footage of a nation in turmoil. Along with Humberto Solás’s extraordinary Lucía from the same year, it provides an explosive demonstration of the fertility of 1960s Cuban cinema. This restoration is the work of Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation.

Classical Period (2018)

Where’s it on? Mubi

Classical Period (2018)

Leaving Mubi at the end of July are three films by the under-the-radar American independent filmmaker Ted Fendt. Recommended for fans of Richard Linklater, Whit Stillman, Éric Rohmer or the mumblecore scene, each of them lasts a digestible 60 minutes and offers a 16mm trip into the headspace of notably cerebral twentysomething protagonists. The most distinctive of the three must be 2018’s Classical Period, whose characters are Dante-obsessed young intellectuals in Philadelphia whose literary debates form the meat of a film of unapologetically highbrow talkiness. For all its verboseness and formal minimalism (inspired by the austere films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet), it’s the non-verbal disclosures of ego and self-satisfaction that make Fendt’s film such a witty pleasure.

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