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Streaming: at home with the 2021 London film festival

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The London film festival kicks off subsequent week, and after a 2020 pandemic version that performed out principally on-line, organisers of the UK’s premier movie competition are stressing the fun of returning to the cinema in all its glory. That’s nice information for a few of us – however these elsewhere within the nation would possibly really feel excluded from the feast after getting a digital place on the desk final yr.

Fortunately, the fest hasn’t forgotten the bottom gained when it comes to accessibility, and is providing a digital programme of 30-odd options accessible to stream on the BFI Player – every for a 24-hour window after its competition premiere – alongside a programme of free-to-view shorts. It’s a smaller menu than final yr’s, however it’s a properly curated one: whereas the presumption at hybrid festivals like that is typically that the dregs of the programme are thrown on-line as a grudging concession, this choice accommodates plenty of the perfect movies within the lineup.

Two of them come from the competition’s major competitors. Harry Wootliff’s True Things is a sensual, tingling grownup drama that delivers on the promise of her beautiful 2019 debut Only You, electrified by outstanding performances from Ruth Wilson, as a pissed off workplace drone craving for human connection, and Tom Burke, because the risky, anonymous ex-con who offers her simply that, with messy, spiralling penalties. And Iranian film-maker Panah Panahi’s irresistible debut Hit the Road was one of many nice discoveries of Cannes this yr. Son of main Iranian auteur Jafar, Panahi Jr exhibits his personal playful, dynamic really feel for the medium on this raucous however tender household highway film, which regularly reveals excessive emotional stakes amid all of the antic, dysfunctional comedy.

Hit the Road.
Hit the Highway.

One of many breakout hits of this yr’s Sundance competition, successful each the highest jury prize and viewers award within the worldwide documentary competitors, Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s placing animated doc Flee is introduced right here in collaboration with the BFI’s LGBTQ Flare festival. Tracing the escape saga of an Afghan-born educational in Denmark, in tandem together with his coming-out narrative, it’s an pressing, inventively introduced addition to the ranks of refugee tales on movie. Additionally on the documentary aspect, in case you can but bear to revisit the early days of the pandemic, Oscar-nominated film-maker Matthew Heineman’s The First Wave is a compassionate, heart-in-mouth examine of first responders in New York Metropolis within the opening months of the disaster.

Different highlights embody Between Two Worlds, an absorbing, morally tough story of deception and exploitation, with Juliette Binoche on tremendous kind as a author posing as a cross-Channel ferry cleaner for the sake of analysis; the real-time, single-take London restaurant drama Boiling Point, with the good Stephen Graham as a chef on the snapping point; Belgian director Laura Wandel’s unnerving, ruthlessly noticed debut Playground, wherein youngsters’s playtime politics flip breathtakingly merciless; and Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s pleasant, bittersweet relationship roundelay Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, certainly one of two nice movies from the Japanese auteur on this yr’s competition. (The opposite, his immaculate Murakami adaptation Drive My Automotive, you’ll need to see in cinemas.)

Petrov’s Flu.
‘Mordant poetry’: Petrov’s Flu. {Photograph}: Hype Movie

My two favourites from the entire choice hail from very completely different faculties of jap European cinema. The Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov’s mad, swirling dystopian fantasia Petrov’s Flu is a imaginative and prescient of social breakdown within the midst of a flu pandemic that has the imaginative density and mordant poetry of surrealist Russian literature. It’s imposing stuff, nevertheless, so chase it with the airier, extra joyful Georgian romantic fantasy of What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?, a contemporary fairytale of probability encounters, love at first sight and soccer World Cup fever that makes you are feeling floaty with out resorting to magical-realist tweeness. In a bigger competition lineup you would possibly overlook it; make the most of having this magnificence introduced proper to you.

Additionally new on streaming and DVD

(Amazon/Apple TV)
I’ve written in regards to the affectionate, ironic meme-ification of Nicolas Cage as an actor, however his efficiency on this elegiac, suitably autumnal sort-of-revenge drama isn’t any joke. He’s splendidly eccentric as a survivalist chef on a decided mission to get well his lacking, truffle-sniffing pig, however the movie helps him with actual humanity.

The Truffle Hunters.
The Truffle Hunters. {Photograph}: Leisure Photos/Alamy

The Truffle Hunters
How immensely satisfying that this droll documentary and Pig ought to have been launched on to non-premium VOD on the identical time: might this new wave of cinéma de truffe proceed. Following the aged Italian males – and their trustworthy, keen-nosed hounds – who forage for the elusive white Alba truffle within the forests of Piedmont, it’s amused by their vocation whereas discovering one thing soothing, even non secular, in it.

Oliver Sacks.
Oliver Sacks. {Photograph}: The Oliver Sacks Basis

Oliver Sacks: His Personal Life
(Curzon Dwelling Cinema)
The late British neurologist and writer will get a positively glowing bio-documentary, chronicling his troubled childhood, his struggles together with his homosexuality and drug dependancy, and his pioneering analysis into autism and neurodiversity. That’s lots to sort out, and the movie simply skims the floor of its topic, however it’s brightened by Sacks’s personal irresistible presence.

Free Man
That this glib, wisecracking riff on The Truman Present for the gamer era has taken greater than £230m worldwide in cinema has been hailed as a triumph for authentic storytelling in an period of franchise overload, although Shawn Levy’s movie is so patchily assembled from present plots and tropes that the victory feels a bit hole. A little bit of real allure would assist.

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