Brian and Charles (2022)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
This eccentric and charming new British comedy is something like Short Circuit (1986) in Snowdonia. Shot in mockumentary style, it centres on a lonely inventor, Brian (David Earl), who whiles away his time making DIY contraptions. But his latest, a robot created out of a washing machine and a mannequin’s head, is an unexpected success. Meet Charles (Chris Hayward), a naive, cyborg giant to whom Brian is soon both buddy and guardian – teaching him about life and protecting him from the unwanted attention of local troublemakers. Stars Earl and Hayward were also the co-writers, expanding a short film of the same name. The results are a delight, offering plenty of chuckles and oddball robotic catchphrases.
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide, and BFI Player
In his classic 1964 documentary Love Meetings, Pier Paolo Pasolini travelled around Italy asking people their attitudes about sex and sexuality – with revelatory results. Pasolini’s project is name-checked in this new survey, in which three Italian directors – Alice Rohrwacher, Pietro Marcello and Francesco Munzi – join forces to quiz the nation’s young people about their hopes and fears for the future. The approach is the same: the trio tour the nation, staying off camera to let their interviewees speak for themselves. But the concerns we hear are bang up to date, and Futura may prove as vital a document as Pasolini’s in its record of resilient kids on the cusp of adulthood at a time of pandemic, climate anxiety and social inequality.
Fourteen Hours (1951)
Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Saturday, 4.10am
The title of this 1951 drama tells you how long a distressed man stands on a 15th-floor window ledge intending to jump. But it doesn’t tell you the outcome. Henry Hathaway’s film is based on a New Yorker article telling of a real suicide in 1938, but in 1951 Hollywood was still looking for happier ways to end its stories, and Fourteen Hours derives considerable suspense from our hope that they managed to find one. Paul Douglas plays the police patrolman leading the efforts to tempt the man back down. Vertigo’s Barbara Bel Geddes plays the troubled man’s estranged fiancée. And Grace Kelly makes her screen debut as an anxious bystander. It’s tensely done on location in Manhattan, as was typical during Hathaway’s flush of realist noirs.
Where’s it on? Film4, Sunday 9pm
Sometimes it can feel like nobody is making lean, tight, 90-minute nail-biters like Fourteen Hours anymore. But here’s one. Crawl is a throwback to the post-Jaws ‘natural horror’ cycle that gave us Piranha (1978) and Alligator (1980), with a set-up that’s a real doozy. It’s hurricane season in Florida and a big one is incoming. Worried about her estranged dad, university student Haley (Kaya Scodelario) ignores police advice in order to go and check on him at home. But waters are rising and soon she’s trapped in his house’s crawl space, fighting for survival against a family of intruders: whopping great alligators. Alexandre Aja’s thriller is as simple and as clammily brilliant as that: claustrophobic, stomach-churning and all but irresistible.
Chop Shop (2007)
Where’s it on? BFI Player
The New York Times once tried to get the phrase ‘neo-neo-realism’ off the ground to describe the wave of grittily authentic, regional US indie cinema that emerged during the late 2000s. The films of Ramin Bahrani were exhibit A. He’d come to people’s attention with Man Push Cart in 2005, the ripped-from-life story of a Pakistani immigrant selling coffee and donuts on the streets of New York. His two subsequent films – Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo (2008) – have been added to BFI Player this week. The former, which famed critic Roger Ebert ranked as one of the best films of the decade, is a brother-sister story set amid the car repair workshops and scrapyards of the Willets Point area of Queen’s. Alejandro Polanco plays the 12-year-old orphan striving to make a better life.