Five things to watch this weekend – 29-31 March

A mask, three faces and a drifter who might be the devil himself feature in this week’s weekend viewing recommendations on big and small screens.

Samuel Wigley

Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story (2018)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide/BFI Player

Find all the inspiration you’ll need for doing things a bit differently this weekend in this Kickstarter-funded documentary about outsider artist-musician Chris Sievey. Bursting with creativity, DIY spirit and a bottomless sense of can-do, Sievey attempted to get a career off the ground with ramshackle punk outfit The Freshies, getting an unlikely hit with ‘I’m in Love with the Girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore Check-out Desk’. But his true path to success came as papier-maché-headed alter ego Frank Sidebottom, who became a comic fixture on TV in the 1980s – “his own comedy universe”, as Johnny Vegas recalls in the doc.

Sidebottom was brought back to attention when played by Michael Fassbender in the 2014 film Frank, but it turns out there’s no substitute for the real thing. Being Frank’s wealth of archive footage and personal recollection amounts to a hilarious and moving portrait, even for the uninitiated. Watch till the end of the credits for a very funny reveal that cuts to the heart of what made Sievey so special.

3 Faces (2018)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

Jafar Panahi has achieved international fame as the filmmaker banned from filmmaking for 20 years by the Iranian authorities, yet who has somehow managed to turn out four features since, regardless. His latest is more expansive in scope than his recent material, taking the form of a quizzical road trip around the north-west of Iran and the border with Azerbaijan. In the front seats are Panahi himself and actress Behnaz Jafari, playing versions of themselves. They’ve set out to find a young would-be actress who has sent Jafari a distressing, suicidal video message. Their odyssey brings them into contact with a rural world of custom and tradition, with Panahi’s wise social critique and some funny business with a foreskin peppering their way.

High Plains Drifter (1973)

Where’s it on?  ITV4, Saturday, 9pm

ITV4 tempts you to saddle up for a western triple-bill this Saturday. Sandwiched between Red River (1948) and The Missouri Breaks (1976) comes this fantastically strange genre bender from Clint Eastwood – his first western as director. Clint himself stars as an enigmatic stranger who arrives in a lakeside mining town and is persuaded by the townspeople to help them defend themselves from two outlaws just out of the slammer. Clint agrees on condition the citizens comply with his every wish, including painting every building blood red. The eventual confrontation plays out like an infernal fever dream, raising every possibility that the stranger is Beelzebub himself. The Beastie Boys latched on to its story of a wandering mischief maker in a track of the same name on their Paul’s Boutique LP.

Death in Venice (1971)

Where’s it on?  Blu-ray

 Death in Venice (1971)

Dirk Bogarde plays the ailing composer Gustav von Aschenbach, who travels to Venice for some R&R only to find a pestilence plaguing the city. Meanwhile, his head is turned by a teenage boy one day on the beach, beginning a fascination that haunts his days. Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Thomas Mann’s classic novella is an irresistibly mournful dirge, scored to the sombre slow movement of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and unfolding in a series of hypnotically funereal scenes. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called Bogarde’s turn “one of the greatest of any screen performances”, and the film’s vision of Venice is the most haunting that side of Don’t Look Now (1973).

Mustang (2015)

Where’s it on?  BBC4, Sunday, 11.30pm

Mustang must count among the decade’s most attention-grabbing directorial debuts, having been picked up for Cannes, Toronto, winning four César awards and getting Oscar nominated for best foreign language film. Not a bad sweep for Turkish-French filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven – especially considering she was pregnant while making it. BBC4 have a late-night Sunday slot for you to catch up with this story of five orphaned sisters growing up in (and rebelling against) a conservative community on the shores of the Black Sea. Amazingly, only one of the actresses playing the five girls had ever performed before, but their exuberant chemistry makes Mustang pretty irresistible. The music is courtesy of Warren Ellis of Bad Seeds fame.

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