Five things to watch this weekend – 5-7 April

New Attenborough, old Kubrick and a truck-driving thriller – buckle up for some fine weekend viewing.

Samuel Wigley

Sorcerer (1977)

Where’s it on?  Film4, Sunday, 12.45am

Sorcerer (1977)

Sorcerer (1977)

With carte blanche to make whatever he wanted following the vast success of The Exorcist (1973), William Friedkin turned to a remake of the classic French truck-driving thriller The Wages of Fear (1953) – although he insisted it was simply a second adaptation of the original novel. It was a bold move, as Henri-Georges Clouzot’s version has always been pretty much the last word in screen tension, but there’s now a growing clamour of voices saying that Sorcerer is actually even better. Stephen King certainly thinks so. Film4 are giving it a dead-of-night airing this weekend, and that’s the perfect time to revel in its sweatily nerve-shredding story of four men in a remote South American town. Their mission? To transport highly volatile nitroglycerine across treacherous terrain to an oil-field fire that’s raging out of control.

Happy as Lazzaro (2018)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

Alice Rohrwacher comin’ atcha with her third feature, a spellbinder with some genuine surprises up its sleeve. Like her second film, The Wonders (2014), Happy as Lazzaro is set in a rural Italy that’s difficult to place in time period, but which seems subtly infused with touches of myth and magic. We join the eponymous Lazzaro in a remote village called Inviolata, where farm workers accept a hidebound life of exploitation and where Lazzaro, a saintly, pure-of-face innocent, is routinely bullied and ridiculed. Rohrwacher opens her film in the mode of peasant epic familiar from directors such as Ermanno Olmi, but by close we’ve landed somewhere else entirely, after a structural volte face that will leave you turning this enigmatic, often sublime drama round in your head for days to come.

Detour (1945)

Where’s it on?  Blu-ray

Detour (1945)

Detour (1945)

Like God creating the world in six days, legend has it that B-movie master Edgar G. Ulmer had a day spare in the week that he made Detour. Although facts have since come to light to suggest it may have taken rather longer, the results still hold a special place in the hearts of film noir addicts – a jalopy to park proudly alongside the genre’s sleeker vehicles and for some folk simply the greatest B movie ever made. Across 68 lean minutes, it’s the fatalistic story of a down-on-his-luck piano player (Tom Neal) hitchhiking his way across America to be reunited with his girlfriend, whose journey takes on nightmarish dimensions when a dead body falls into his lap. Ulmer’s film is now available in a positively aristocratic Blu-ray from Criterion: just desserts for the ultimate bargain-aisle masterpiece.

Our Planet (2019)

Where’s it on?  Netflix

BBC stalwart David Attenborough has brought his latest natural-world epic to Netflix, who piled millions into this eight-part globetrotter, filmed in 50 countries by a crew of more than 600 people. The opening episode alone spans terrain as diverse as the Brazilian jungle and the Arctic reaches of Norway’s Svalbard, with the emphasis firmly on how fragile these habitats have become in the face of changing climates. Our Planet treads a delicate line between hope and despair as it tackles our own rapacious impact on the Earth and the myriad species we share it with. 

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Where’s it on?  Cinemas nationwide

We’ve been revisiting Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange all week – exploring its legacy in fashion and punk, and where it slots into the canons of British dystopias and street gang movies. Today’s re-release is now the chance to see what the fuss is about, writ large on the big screen for the first time in a generation. When it first emerged, Kubrick’s startling vision of a near-future when vicious gangs run amok was seen as part of a wave of movies pushing the envelope of screen violence. But Kubrick’s films never really belong with waves of anything: they’re their own wildly distinctive, stylistically super-charged selves. And so it’s possible for A Clockwork Orange to be both look-away disturbing and at the same time a kind of scabrous Benny Hill-style comedy. It’s certainly Kubrick’s most British film, immortalising a through-the-looking-glass version of our 1970s home decor as a disco-infernal prediction of what’s ahead.

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