Leave No Trace (2018)
Where’s it on? Netflix
The pick of this week’s new arrivals on Netflix is this delicate and searching drama from Debra Granik – best known for her Jennifer Lawrence-launching Ozarks drama Winter’s Bone (2010). Leave No Trace centres on a father and daughter living off grid in a nature reserve in Oregon. When their secret lifestyle is stumbled upon by the authorities, the pair find themselves being funnelled back into a system and a society that the father (Ben Foster) had long since turned his back on. The beauty of Granik’s film is that it never argues for one thing over another – for the wilderness over society, or solitude over company. It’s a nuanced, thornily reflective film, and a quietly heartbreaking one.
The Apu trilogy (1955-59)
Where’s it on? Blu-ray
The trilogy that brought worldwide attention to Bengali cinema gets a pristine Blu-ray box set from Criterion this week. Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy follows the experiences of young Apu, from his rural boyhood in Ray’s debut film, Pather Panchali (1955), via his move to Calcutta to study in Aparajito (1958), to his first faltering steps into a writing career in The World of Apu (1959). Humane, moving and evocatively detailed, these are world cinema classics, establishing Ray as a major force on the international film scene. They’ve remained his signature works, even though Ray himself subsequently eschewed such novelistic scope in favour of the more contained, short-story-like situations found in his masterpieces The Big City (1963) and Charulata (1964).
The Third Man (1949)
Where’s it on? BFI Player
If Pather Panchali has some claim to being the most internationally celebrated of all Indian films, The Third Man might just well be the same for British cinema. Often found at the top of British film polls, it’s by far the most famous of the cycle of homegrown ‘spiv’ dramas that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War, centring around the profiteers and ne’er-do-wells who kept the black markets flourishing during the rationing era. The Third Man’s spiv is Harry Lime, devilishly personified by Orson Welles as the charming scoundrel – presumed dead – who steps out the shadows of a Vienna doorway and into screen immortality. Joseph Cotten is the American pulp novelist who arrives in town looking for Lime, while cinematographer Robert Krasker supplies the dutch angles and lengthening shadows that push this deep into noir territory. It’s just been added to the subscription offering on BFI Player.
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Where’s it on? Film4, Saturday, 1pm
All but irresistible on Film4 this Saturday afternoon is this miniaturisation adventure that later provided the inspiration for Joe Dante’s InnerSpace (1987) and perhaps also the skit in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex… but Were Afraid to Ask (1972) in which Allen plays a tiny sperm waiting anxiously to be ejaculated into the world. Fantastic Voyage involves a group of scientists who are shrunk down to microscopic dimensions in order to be injected into the body of a government scientist and try to fend off the blood clot threatening his life. Although the thrills happen at an amoebic scale, director Richard Fleischer fills the wide screen with eye-popping colours and deliciously inventive art direction that makes one man’s innards seem as exotic and otherworldly as any alien planet. Raquel Welch and Edmond O’Brien are among the tiny taskforce, while Donald Pleasence is the one giving shifty glances.
This Scottish drag-racing drama is among the number of 2020 releases that had their time in cinemas cut short by the coronavirus shutdown, but is now getting revved up again for DVD, streaming and download. Game of Thrones star Mark Stanley plays the Aberdeenshire dad who left behind his petrolhead past and settled down to a life of family and toil, only to have his yearning for speed unexpectedly rekindled by a conversation with his son’s pregnant girlfriend. Run continues director Scott Graham’s interest in lives trapped by circumstances, exploring the theme with the same intimate, lived-in realism that defined his first two films, Shell (2012) and Iona (2015). This one was inspired in part by the songs of Bruce Springsteen and is steeped in some of the same feelings of broken dreams and industrial decline.