Five things to watch this weekend – 1-3 March

From outer-space horror to a psychedelic spin on the Adam and Eve story, here are a handful of viewing recommendations to see you through the weekend.

Samuel Wigley

Alien (1979)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

Alien (1979) poster

It’s a fine week for re-releases of crap-your-pants horror: Hideo Nakata’s J-horror milestone Ring is back in cinemas 21 years after its original outing, compared to which Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien – at 40 – might be considered its middle-aged aunty. Not that you’d know it. Even more than the original Star Wars, Alien is a rare 70s sci-fi that hasn’t aged a day, arriving back in theatres in a 4K digital restored version almost as if – like the crew of deep-space engineers we meet waking up in the opening sequence – it had emerged from some preservative hypersleep. With its haunted-house scares and unsettlingly ancient/futuristic design, Scott’s classic could go jaw-to-jaw with any modern scary movie and still come out on top.

The Chase (1966)

Where’s it on?  Talking Pictures TV, Saturday, 11.55pm

The Chase (1966)

The year before Arthur Penn sounded the starting gun on the New Hollywood era with Bonnie and Clyde, he convened Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in rural Texas for this hot-tempered southern drama. Getting a late-night slot this Saturday on Talking Pictures TV, it sprawls across 133 pressure-cooked minutes, with Redford the escaped con whose return home brings simmering small-town tensions to a roiling boil on a hot summer night. Fonda is his forsaken wife, James Fox her new lover, and Brando the domineering sheriff in the 10-gallon hat. As the original trailer put it, it’s “a story of big, brawling, sprawling Texas today. It’s rednecks. It’s oil barons. It’s reckless women. It’s restless men.”

Foxtrot (2017)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

Samuel Maoz’s controversial Israeli drama Foxtrot succeeds in tripping up the viewer at least three times. It begins with an official visit to the home of Michael and Dafna Feldmann (Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler), a well-to-do couple living in Tel Aviv. Devastatingly, the news is not good about their son, Jonathan, who serves in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). So Foxtrot starts out as a film about grief, with Maoz finding ways to communicate the numb pain of losing someone that are harrowing to watch. Yet the couple have another shock to take on board, before Maoz’s film leaves Tel Aviv altogether to join Jonathan and his military unit at a remote desert outpost. And this flashback section has another reveal in store. Maoz’s tricky, tripartite film makes for absorbing, thorny drama – is it called Foxtrot because it keeps you on your toes?

Fruit of Paradise (1970)

Where’s it on?  BFI Player

Fruit of Paradise (1970)

It’s not going to be for all tastes, but this experimental Czech spin on the Adam and Eve story boasts one of the most arresting opening sequences going. We meet the primordial couple in the garden of Eden as director Vera Chytilova double-exposes the images to overlay their nakedness with textures of leaves and plant life, while a slightly terrifying, sacred-sounding electroacoustic score by Zdeněk Liška builds. Chytilova is best known for her anarchic Czech New Wave classic Daisies (1966), but Fruit of Paradise is just as liberated, lysergic and off-the-chart. Her government were not impressed, however, slapping Chytilova with an eight-year filmmaking ban.

Sauvage (2018)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

A contender for the Queer Palm at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, this debut feature from writer-director Camille Vidal-Naquet is something like a French My Own Private Idaho. Like Gus van Sant’s indie landmark, it offers a tender glimpse into the life of a gay street hustler, Leo, played with extraordinary candour by 120 BPM’s Félix Maritaud. It’s a bracing, bruising film that doesn’t stint in showing the grimmer side of Leo’s profession. There’s no romanticism here, but no judgement either, and the detail is explicit but also – at times – touching in its intimacy and honesty. The director has said that Agnès Varda’s drifter drama Vagabond (1985) was an influence, and Sauvage shares that film’s humane but unsentimental vision.

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