Five things to watch this weekend – 13-15 March

How about a 55-minute unbroken shot?

Samuel Wigley

Bacurau (2019)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

If part of what made Parasite such a global sensation was its super-serving of narrative surprises, combined with its rallying notes of class fightback, then Bacurau should play to packed houses. Set a “few years from now” in the Brazilian sertão (outback), it’s a weird western that edges into both sci-fi and horror territory as it pits an isolated community against a party of American trophy hunters. To say much more would spoil the fun, even if most descriptions would struggle to capture the inspired fusion of genre elements that co-directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles bring into orbit. Sergio Leone, John Carpenter and the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement of the 1960s are all stylistic influences, but it’s the political charge and local specificity of Bacurau that give it a sensation of brazen novelty that’s hot to the touch. 

The Elephant Man (1980)

Where’s it on? Selected cinemas nationwide

The thought of David Lynch arriving on UK shores to make a new feature today would send most British cinephiles into spasms of ecstasy. But that’s exactly what happened 40 years ago, at the dawn of his career. Lynch was hot off the underground success of his freakish breakout Eraserhead (1977), a film that found an unexpected admirer in Mel Brooks. Brooks was producing a new film about John Merrick, the severely deformed ‘elephant man’ who became a sideshow sensation in Victorian London. Lynch was asked to direct, with John Hurt undergoing hours of make-up for his affecting turn as Merrick, and Anthony Hopkins playing the doctor who takes him in for scientific study. Until The Straight Story (1999), it was always the most conventional thing in the Lynch back catalogue, but there are plenty of Lynchian touches and Freddie Francis’s inky monochrome photography is transporting.

The Goob (2014)

Where’s it on? BBC2, Sunday, 1.10am

Getting a middle-of-the-night broadcast on BBC2 this weekend, Guy Myhill’s feature debut charts a long, hot summer in the fields of Norfolk in the company of the eponymous Goob (Liam Walpole). He’s a gaunt, striking teenager, home from school for the holidays and looking for ways to while away the hours: stock-car racing, finding romance with a fellow fruit-picker, and getting into trouble with his mum’s bullying new boyfriend (Sean Harris). You can see too many British coming-of-age films, but this one’s worth setting the timer for. The Goob perfectly captures the sense of summer days lasting lengthily into the evening, and of magic-hour parties when big skies stretch endlessly into nowhere. 

Long Day’s Journey into Night (2018)

Where’s it on? BFI Player

No relation to the Eugene O’Neill play of the same name, this second feature from the astonishingly talented Chinese filmmaker Bi Gan (which premiered at Cannes before he was yet 29) instead shares DNA with the films of waterlogged romantics like Wong Kar-wai and Tsai Ming-liang. Bi himself calls it a “destroyed film noir”, which certainly helps you put some coordinates on the mysterious first half, in which Luo Hongwu (Huang Jue) returns to his hometown of Kaili for his father’s funeral and begins to search for an old flame. As in Bi’s reputation-making 2015 debut Kaili Blues, currently the best kept secret on Amazon Prime, it’s all building to a grandstanding technical tour-de-force: a lengthy travelling shot that here lasts 55 minutes as it follows Luo on a dream odyssey incorporating cable-car ride and even sudden flight. It’s on BFI Player from today, ahead of its release on Blu-ray on 13 April.

Antonio Gaudí (1984)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Antonio Gaudí (1984)

Hiroshi Teshigahara helped spearhead the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s with enigmatic parables like Woman of the Dunes (1964) and The Face of Another (1966). He brings some of that same alien atmosphere to this 1980s documentary on the celebrated Spanish architect whose unfettered configurations had been a long-held fascination for the director. Almost wordless, Teshigahara’s film doesn’t work as a Gaudí primer – you’ll learn far more in Ken Russell’s 15-minute 1961 documentary for BBC’s Monitor series, included as an extra on this new Criterion release. But with music by avant-gardist Toru Takemitsu, it casts a strange spell of its own, offering a kind of city symphony of architectural forms and features. We might see modern Barcelona teeming around us, but the overriding sensation is of being unsuspecting visitors in a dreamt-up kingdom.

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