Babymother (1998)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Made when dancehall was at its peak in the UK, this Channel 4-financed ‘ragga to riches’ musical from 1998 is a largely unheralded gem. Anita (Anjela Lauren Smith) is a mother of two who dreams of making it big as an MC. Life is tough on her Harlesden estate, and her musical talents have been overshadowed by the career of her estranged ‘babyfather’ Byron (Wil Johnson). But she’s not wanting in energy or ambition, and begins to make a move on dancehall stardom in cahoots with her rude girl pals Sharon and Yvette. Packed with colourful outfits and terrific music, Babymother makes its Blu-ray debut this week, and – as the late cultural theorist Stuart Hall wrote in Sight and Sound in 1998 – “Anita, Sharon and Yvette make the Spice Girls look like convent fifth-formers at a Sunday afternoon tea party.”

It Should Happen to You (1954)

Where’s it on? Great! Movies Classic, Saturday, 9.30am

It Should Happen to You (1954)

Here’s another tale of aspiring fame, from an earlier era. This 1950s Hollywood satire sees Judy Holliday as the new arrival in New York who spends her life savings to rent out an advertising hoarding at Columbus Circle to put her own name about town. Fourteen years before Andy Warhol supposedly prophesied that everyone in the future would have 15 minutes of fame, here is Hollywood poking fun at the idea of fame for fame’s sake, with Holliday’s Gladys Glover going from nobody to celebrity almost overnight. In his first starring role, Jack Lemmon plays her more grounded suitor, while Peter Lawford is the creepy Madison Avenue exec looking to capitalise on Glover’s instant stardom. You can bet Mad Men’s creators watched this one on repeat.

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide, digital platforms including BFI Player

The price of fame is weighed more heavily in this plangent documentary tackling the impact of stardom on Swedish child star Björn Andrésen. At 15 years old, Andrésen landed the role of Tadzio, the teenage object of desire of Dirk Bogarde’s ailing composer in Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film Death in Venice. Dubbed “the most beautiful boy in the world” by the bisexual, aristocratic director, Andrésen’s youthful prettiness led to international notoriety but a stalling career. He was big in Japan, recording TV commercials there, but his film career failed to progress (lately, he had a small role in Midsommar in 2019). This tragic Swedish documentary finds a wizened Andrésen reflecting on his time in the limelight, the damage it did and the toll it took.


The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Not many first sequels give you as much catching up to do as Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film: A New Generation, which premiered at Cannes this year. Now a decade old, Cousins’ original – which this week finds its way on to Blu-ray – runs a staggering 915 minutes, or 15 hours. So not just something to watch this weekend, but something to fill your weekend up. Ranging far, wide and digressively over the history of cinema, it gives viewers an inspiring, idiosyncratic cruise through the medium’s story so far, turning up surprising connections, forgotten films and filmmakers and a banquet of extracts. 

Limbo (2020)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Scheduled for the 2020 edition of Cannes that never took place, this offbeat drama from British director Ben Sharrock is set on a desolate Scottish island where asylum seekers are being held while they await the results of their asylum claims. Like Netflix’s recent His House, Limbo tackles the feeling of estrangement and isolation experienced by refugees on arrival on these shores. But while Remi Weekes’ film went for haunted horror, Limbo is a deadpan comedy, perhaps influenced by the style of Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki – particularly his 2017 film The Other Side of Hope, which likewise dealt with a refugee’s disorienting first weeks in a new country. Sharrock’s film has deservedly picked up awards recognition at both the BAFTAs and the British Independent Film Awards. It’s a distinctive, droll and cumulatively affecting drama.