Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)
Where’s it on? Blu-ray/DVD
The Klondike gold rush and the dawn of cinema itself are brought magically together in this unique documentary from Bill Morrison. Dawson City: Frozen Time tells the strange-but-true story of the discovery of a treasure trove of nitrate film prints buried in the permafrost in a Yukon territory pioneering town. Amazingly preserved, but compiled by Morrison complete with their signs of corrosion, these early 20th-century films offer a haunting glimpse of a world gone by, including newsreels, scenes of life in Dawson City and early silent movies. For fans of archive film, this flickering séance with the past is heaven sent. Unsurprisingly, it was a fixture of critics’ year-end lists a couple of years back.
Human Desire (1954)
Where’s it on? Blu-ray/DVD
Back together after their classic crime-syndicate noir The Big Heat (1953), stars Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame rejoined director Fritz Lang for this moody Hollywood remake of Jean Renoir’s soot-encrusted railwaymen melodrama La Bête humaine (1938), itself derived from a Zola novel. Human Desire’s release on Blu-ray as part of the Masters of Cinema series is a chance to revel in Burnett Guffey’s inkily atmospheric noir photography, which makes evocative use of an Oklahoma railyard for its tale of infidelity and murder.
My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
Where’s it on? Film4, Sunday, 11am
No streaming service has them, so Film4’s current run of Studio Ghibli classics should be jumped on. This weekend offers two late 80s gems: trainee-witch saga Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) and Miyazaki’s internationally beloved early masterpiece, My Neighbour Totoro. The highest ranked animated film on Sight & Sound’s most recent best-films-ever poll, Totoro is the story of two young sisters who move into a new home and encounter friendly animal spirits living in the nearby forest. Fans of the film know that not much happens, but that’s all part of its calm magic: it’s a movie that seems to breathe enchantment.
Old Boys (2018)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
Updating the Cyrano de Bergerac story to a school setting isn’t a particularly novel idea, but this bookish teen romance set in a posh boys’ school in the 1980s gets straight As in charm and geniality. Forgoing Cyrano’s big nose in favour of a debilitating adolescent awkwardness, Alex Lawther plays the sensitive soul who falls for the daughter of his French master (Eden’s Pauline Etienne) only to good-naturedly help broker romance between her and jockish school hero Winchester (Jonah Hauer-King), who, by his own admission, is “not good at all this word shit”.
Paris Is Us (2019)
Where’s it on? Netflix
This is a film nobody’s talking about… yet. All that was really known about it until now was that it was a make up/break up story filmed against the backdrop of real-life events in Paris in the era of ‘Je suis Charlie’ and the Bataclan massacre. It started as a low-key Kickstarter project before the ultimate backer swept in: Netflix. Press previews were not forthcoming, but the visuals in the trailer looked very late-Malick, the title seemed to reference Jacques Rivette’s Paris nous appartient (1961) and the debut director was one Elisabeth Vogler – which, mysteriously, is the name of the actress character in Persona (1966). Was this a cinephile honey trap?
Well, it’s been live since breakfast time, unpromisingly pigeonholed as ‘Teen’, and it turns out to be quite something. In copying the transcendental, out-on-the-streets shooting style perfected by Malick and Emmanuel Lubezki in films like Song to Song (2017), Paris Is Us delivers a kind of Malick YA version – a vertiginous experiential examination of young adulthood in a capital city during grave times.