5 things to watch this weekend – 31 May to 2 June

Disasters face a couple across three time periods, high-school graduates hit the road, and a neglected Hungarian classic puts lovers in a spin. What are you watching this weekend?

The Beast (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

Léa Seydoux and George MacKay play different iterations of a couple living in three separate time periods in this ambitious, hypnotically compelling grand vision from Bertrand Bonello, the French director of House of Tolerance (2011) and Nocturama (2016). Henry James’s 1903 novella The Beast in the Jungle is the jumping off point for a story that interweaves episodes in 1910, 2014 and 2044, each in their different ways haunted by disaster, technological development and the daunting encroachment of the future. Bonello’s dystopian epic bridges Paris at the time of the Great Flood and a future where Seydoux’s character must cleanse her DNA ahead of a job interview, via a nightmarish, Lynchian section in LA where MacKay plays an incel stalking Seydoux’s aspiring actor. 

Gasoline Rainbow (2023)

Where’s it on? Mubi

Last time we heard from the Ross brothers, Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross, they were rubbing shoulders with the regulars at a Las Vegas dive bar on closing night for their grungy docudrama Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020). Their freewheeling new roadtrip Gasoline Rainbow skirts a similarly ambiguous line between reality and fiction as it follows five high-school graduates hitting the road for an odyssey across Oregon – an adventure in cutting loose in that tantalising window of freedom between school days and adult responsibility. Gasoline Rainbow isn’t much interested in following a plotline so much as finding its own idiosyncratic route to human insight, fuelled by improvisation, DIY spirit and the casual poetry of places and people.

Merry-Go-Round (1956)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Merry-Go-Round (1956)

Lindsay Anderson’s 1956 Cannes festival report for Sight and Sound left little doubt about the best in show that year: Merry-Go-Round by the Hungarian director Zoltán Fábri. But in the decades since, while Hungarian critics have repeatedly voted Fábri’s film as one of Hungary’s greatest films, for British viewers it has remained in obscurity. Hopefully that starts to change with this Blu-ray release from Second Run. In some ways, it’s a simple story of ill-starred love, in which a stern farmer insists his daughter marry into wealth and land rather than carouse with the man she’s fallen in love with. Yet it’s so vividly shot (that merry-go-round sequence!) and tenderly performed, especially by Mari Törőcsik as the farmer’s daughter, that the result is a kind of lightning-in-a-bottle cinematic alchemy.

A House in Jerusalem (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

There’s a touch of Studio Ghibli, Petite maman (2021) or the more ominous terrain of a J-horror like Dark Water (2002) to this haunted tale of a young girl who is relocated from the UK to a rambling mansion in Jerusalem following the death of her mother. Largely left to her own devices by her grieving father (Johnny Harris), Rebecca (Miley Locke) encounters a mysterious spirit living at the bottom of a well – the ghost of the daughter of a Palestinian family who were violently removed from the house during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Never tipping into outright horror, Palestinian filmmaker Muayad Alayan’s politically resonant supernatural drama emits an eerie melancholy as it sees Rebecca making a dreamlike trip to a settlement in Bethlehem in search of the girl’s mother.

A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

Where’s it on? BBC2, Sunday, 00:00

A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

For 30 years now, Michael Winterbottom has kept up the extraordinary pace of making at least one film or series per year. A Cock and Bull Story is on the docket for 2005, finding Winterbottom and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce (writing under the pseudonym Martin Hardy) make impressively light work of filming Laurence Sterne’s supposedly unfilmable 18th-century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Their solution? To turn it into a metafictional comedy about just such a film being made – or rather attempted. Regular Winterbottom collaborator Steve Coogan plays both himself and Shandy, while Rob Brydon is both Brydon and Uncle Toby – beginning the Coogan-Brydon rivalry/double act that Winterbottom later spun out into The Trip franchise.