Five things to watch this weekend – 8-10 November

Set your timer. Tarkovsky’s on TV.

Samuel Wigley

Mirror (1975)

Where’s it on? Film4, Monday, 1:35am

Mirror (1975)

Stay in your seat after RoboCop on Film4 on Sunday night and you’ll be treated to a one-of-a-kind visual poem from Andrei Tarkovsky. Made between his two excursions into sci-fi, Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979), Mirror is the great Russian director’s least linear and most abstract creation, interspersing scenes from his rural childhood, the Second World War and subsequent artistic maturity for a prismatic reflection on his own life and those of his parents. Wartime newsreel footage, self-consciously painterly compositions, indelible imagery (a field whipped suddenly by wind, a gas lantern flickering out) and the director’s mesmeric camera movements combine in a work of cumulative, rhythmic effect. Just the thing to lull yourself into next week.

The Irishman (2019)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

There’s a reckoning going on in this week’s biggest cinema release too: an elegiac glance back over an eventful life, and a grappling with what it adds up to. The Irishman is Martin Scorsese’s return to gangland, reuniting him with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, and adding Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa into the mix for good measure. A decade-spanning crime epic told through the eyes of De Niro’s Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran, it’s been ecstatically received, with more than one critic calling it Scorsese’s best in 30 years, which seems a little ungrateful for The Wolf of Wall Street, for one. But, luxuriating in an unconventional three-and-a-half hours running time made possible by financiers Netflix (where The Irishman will be found following an initial spell in cinemas), there’s no doubt that this richly textured, compulsively watchable film finds the 76-year-old director operating at the peak of his powers.

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967)

Making its premiere on Blu-ray in the UK this week, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is Jacques Demy’s joyful tribute to the American musical, set in the French coastal town of Rochefort. Unravelling over one weekend, it features sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac as twins who become involved with men from a visiting carnival. Their romantic tribulations are weaved into a complex web of romantic entanglements that play out amid the pastel-coloured surroundings – in a world perched somewhere between reality and fairytale. As with Demy’s previous hit, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), the dialogue is nearly all sung to Michel Legrand’s infectious score, but even musicals haters may be forced to cave in the face of the film’s extraordinary ebullience and charm.

Jane Eyre (1943)

Where’s it on? BBC2, Saturday, 2:40pm

Jane Eyre (1943)

Made in the same wave of gothic adaptations that brought us classic versions of Wuthering Heights (1939) and Rebecca (1940), this thickly atmosphered version of the Charlotte Brontë novel gets a welcome dusting off by BBC2 this Saturday afternoon. Typecast as the tremulous ingénue after Rebecca, Joan Fontaine plays Brontë’s eponymous heroine, who arrives as the new governess at the gloomy mansion of the enigmatic Mr Rochester – here incarnated with sonorous gravity by Orson Welles. Welles had produced a version of Jane Eyre for radio, and his fingerprints are all over this 1943 film, with music by Bernard Herrmann and a screenplay co-written by John Houseman, both of whom came to film from Welles’s Mercury Theatre. It’s one of those 1940s films where any grievances done to a literary original are compensated for by the sheer aesthetic pleasures of the Hollywood studio system working at full pelt.

Master of the House (1925)

Where’s it on? stumfilm.dk

Master of the House (1925)

This week’s most exciting addition to the streaming world is something called stumfilm.dk. Billing itself as “the biggest film-dissemination effort ever in Denmark”, this is the Danish Film Institute’s incredible new project making available its restored collection of Danish silent films, from 1897-1928, to stream for free in beautiful HD. Launched this week, it’s a work in progress that will expand to more than 400 titles, though there’s already plenty to sink your teeth into, from early ‘actuality’ films like the snowbound one-minute Driving with Greenland Dogs (1897) to full-length features, including two so far from the era’s biggest name: Carl Theodor Dreyer. His Once upon a Time (1922) is a fascinating if minor film in a fairytale vein, though 1925’s Master of the House is an out-and-out classic of silent film, a domestic satire of extraordinary visual fluency.

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