You are unlikely to see a stranger film this week, or for many a week, than Anomalisa (2015). Directed by Charlie Kaufman, the idiosyncratic genius who wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. In bold outline, it sounds nothing special: a depressed man leading an empty life goes to a conference and everything changes. Its look, though, and its detailed storyline, are unique.
Adapted from a radio play, the film uses stop-motion animation to tell a peculiar story. Michael Stone, a motivational author and speaker, feels distant from everyone around him, whom he perceives as having the same faces and voices, including his wife and son. At the conference hotel, he has a disastrous meeting with an old flame but finally meets someone who looks and sounds different: Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh). They become intimate, but the experience leaves Michael (voiced by David Thewlis) even more unhappy. What does it all mean? You’ll have to work that out for yourself. That’s on Film4 on Friday (17/7) at 01:50.
Turning to World Cinema, Talking Pictures is showing Werner Herzog’s 1979 Nosferatu The Vampyre, his adaptation of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu. Jonathan Harker, living in Wismar, Germany, is sent to Transylvania to sell a house to a count living in a castle. The count proves to be Dracula, a strange and ancient man, looking more like a rodent than a human being, who agrees to purchase the house after seeing a picture of Harker’s young wife, Lucy. Dracula sets off for Wismar, leaving Harker locked up in the castle, and taking with him the coffins full of earth he needs to sustain his vampiric existence.
Herzog brings his own vision to the film: particularly the deep and heavy colour palette and his use of Klaus Kinski in the title role. The combination of Herzog and Kinski is always explosive. Herzog once said “Every grey hair on my head is because of Kinski”. The lesser roles are well cast too, with Bruno Ganz as Harker and Isabelle Adjani as Lucy. Nosferatu the Vampyre is on Talking Pictures on Saturday (11/7) at 00:00.
On Sunday (12/7) at 02:25, Talking Pictures has The Night Visitor (1970), an unusual crime thriller with a stellar cast of Max von Sydow, Trevor Howard and Liv Ullmann. A man is imprisoned in a mental asylum, accused of murder. He escapes in an attempt to seek revenge on those he thinks were really responsible. Shot In Sweden but in English.
On Monday (13/7) at 01:45, Film4 has the wonderful Rams (2015), which we showed in 2016/17. Two farming brothers who haven’t spoken to each other for 40 years are forced to cooperate to save their sheep, which are threatened with slaughter by the veterinary authorities. In Icelandic.
In 2017, Fabio Grassadonia directed Sicilian Ghost Story, a mystery drama about a 13-year-old boy who disappears and the young girl who goes looking for him, entering a dark world via a lake. That’s on Film4 on Wednesday (15/7) at 01:00.
Set against the backdrop of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, The Nile Hilton Incident is a political thriller that had to be shot in Morocco because of the opposition of the authorities. Police Commander Noredin Mostaga (Fares Fares) is sent to investigate a murder in a hotel and is soon embroiled in a web of corruption. That airs on Channel 4 on Wednesday at 01:55.
Music-lovers may enjoy Nico, 1988, a dramatized account of the last year in the singer’s life as she struggled with drug addiction and personal trauma. It stars Trine Dyrholm as the singer, with support from John Gordon Sinclair. That’s on Film4 on Thursday (16/7) at 02:00.
Moving away from World Cinema, Film4 has Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), the popular comedy/thriller starring Colin Firth and Taron Egerton. That’s on Film4 on Sunday (12/7) at 21:00.
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in Macbeth (2015), a savage and cinematic version of the Scottish Play, directed by Justin Kurzel. You know the plot. That’s on Film4 on Monday (13/7) at 23:10.
On Tuesday (14/7) at 23:10, Film4 brings us Buried (2010). This tense thriller stars Ryan Reynolds as a US truck driver in Iraq who finds himself buried in a coffin six feet below the ground with only a cigarette lighter and a mobile phone for company. Can he get help before his oxygen runs out?
Stephen Soderbergh has had an interesting career. After starting with the indie favourite Sex, Lies, and Videotape he moved on to big-budget blockbusters such as Oceans 11, 12 and 13. Logan Lucky is crowd-pleasing fare. Two brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) attempt a heist during a NASCAR race. It also stars Daniel Craig, essaying a deep South accent as an explosives expert. That’s on Thursday (16/7) on ITV4 at 21:00. On the same night, at the same time, ITV has Paul Greengrass’s TV movie of The Murder of Stephen Lawrence (1990), starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hugh Quarshie and Leon Black.
In 20th Century Women (2016), three women, played by Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig, living in a bohemian household, collaborate to bring up one of their teenage sons. A comedy precisely located in 1970s Southern California, it is on BBC2 on Friday (17/7) at 23:20 and subsequently on iPlayer.
For those who like Oldies, there is a bumper crop this week, particularly of espionage films. On Saturday (11/7) at 13:15, and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC2 is showing The 39 Steps (1935). At 21:00 the same evening, ITV continues its Bond series with From Russia With Love (1963). At the same time, 5Star has Good Will Hunting (1997)
On Sunday (12/7) at 15:45 and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC2 has The Ipcress File (1965). At 19:10 the same day, Paramount has High Noon. On Monday (13/7) at 15:55, Film4 has The Professionals (1966). At 16:50 the same day, Sony Movies has Groundhog Day (1993).
On Tuesday (14/7) at 07:20, Talking Pictures has The True Glory (1945), a contemporary documentary about D-Day. It was based on footage from 1,400 cameramen. At 18:35 the same day, Sony Movies has the 1994 version of Little Women, directed by Gillian Armstrong and featuring Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst. Then at 23:45, Talking Pictures has What a Crazy World (1963), a delightful feature about the pre-Beatles British music scene, with Joe Brown, Marty Wilde and Susan Maughan.
Gallipoli (1981) turns up on Film4 on Wednesday (15/7) at 16:20, and then on Friday (17/7) at 11:20 on Talking Pictures there is The Sound Barrier, David Lean’s gripping but aerodynamically unsound account of post-war British aviation. At 20:00 the same day, Sony Movies is showing Braveheart while at 21:00 ITV4 has Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976).