Channel 4’s online streaming service All4 is now home to select Film4-backed films which change on a regular basis. We aim to highlight some of the films streaming each month so you don’t miss out on some fantastic films! This month’s selections include The Handmaiden, Bone Tomahawk, Beast, and Starred Up.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
dir. S. Craig Zahler
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Westerns. The only Western I can truly say I’d enjoyed until 2015 was Back to the Future, Part III. Why 2015? Well, that’s when Bone Tomahawk showed up. The debut feature from director S. Craig Zahler – who has since gone onto create the terrific Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Dragged Across Concrete – was as confident a debut as we’ve seen for some time.
A steadfast commitment to his screenplay, a slow burn ensemble piece starring Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, and Richard Jenkins, sees Zahler hold his cards as close to his chest as humanly possible until its final act, where the film descends from Western into a full blown horror. Truth be told, this final act was what lured me to watching the film in the first place because it earned something of a mythical reputation, but it truly is worth watching knowing as little as possible.
The set up is straight forward, an Old West town’s doctor has gone missing, so the town’s sheriff and a small posse set out to find him. That is all you should know going into it, and I promise you it will be worth the wait. Bone Tomahawk is intriguing, tense, and spine-chillingly scary. Watch it now on All4, but be careful – it’s not for the faint-hearted. You’ve been warned.
Written by Rhys Bowen Jones
The Handmaiden (2017)
Dir. Park Chan-wook
Following on from Parasite and Director Bong Joon Ho’s almost unprecedented success at this year’s Oscars, all eyes are now quite rightly on Korean cinema, as more people tear down the barrier of subtitles to realise that a whole world of cinema is out there waiting for them! Another master of Korean cinema is Park Chan Wook and his delectably dark romantic masterpiece The Handmaiden is certainly a film that is worth your time. Whilst perhaps more well-known for his violent “Vengeance” trilogy, The Handmaiden is tamer, but still full of twists, turns and just enough weirdness to keep things interesting.
The story follows a young Korean woman, Sook-Hee (Tae-ri Kim) who finds herself in the service of Lady Hideko (Min-hee Kim) as her titular Handmaiden. All is not as it seems however as she has in fact been planted by “Count Fujiwara” (Jung-woo Ha) who isn’t a Count at all, but rather a scoundrel who plans to seduce Lady Hideko, send her off to a madhouse, and split the money from her considerable estate with Sook-Hee. However, Sook-Hee soon finds herself infatuated with Lady Hideko and a passionate affair ensues, but is everything all that it seems?
The Handmaiden is mesmerising, dark, funny, and unlike anything else you will see – utterly unmissable.
Written by Sarah Buddery
Dir, Yann Demange
A squad of British soldiers are sent to Belfast in 1971 to help keep the peace between Catholic Nationalists who want to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland, and the Protestant Loyalists who are in favour of staying part of the UK. One soldier, Gary Hook (Jack O’ Connell), must evade capture by advancing militia and fight to survive, whilst protecting those who have tried to help him as history changes around him forever…
We see a very gritty and dangerous factual battlefield here in and around the streets of Belfast where you can’t be sure who is the enemy and who is an ally. From the shocking opening sequences when the troops hit the streets, this is frantic and disorientating stuff as the shaky-cam comes to a whole new level. Soundtrack isn’t needed, we just have diegetic sounds of shooting, shouts, thundering feet running to escape and screams from those gunned down. Its tense stuff, and very real, shot as if you are a squaddie with O’Connell’s fragile but resilient soldier swept up in the conflict.
Written by Chris Gelderd
Dir. Michael Pearce
Written and directed by Michael Pearce, Beast is an eerie and captivating debut feature film about isolation and secrets. Moll (Jessie Buckley) is a troubled young woman, stifled by her controlling mother (Geraldine James), the unwanted affections of nice but dull cop Clifford (Trystan Gravelle) and the isolated island community she’s a part of. When she meets loner Pascal (Johnny Flynn) she’s drawn to him even though people on the island suspect him to be behind a series of brutal murders.
Jessie Buckley gives a powerful performance. She’s captivating whenever she’s on screen, portraying Moll as naïve but with a hidden steely core. Johnny Flynn is equal parts charming and menacing as Pascal, but he never manages to be unlikable. Both characters have dark pasts and secrets and you’re left to the very end wondering if either of them can be trusted.
Beast is a tale of two halves, the first is a dark, brooding mystery, the second is a strange and unsettling drama. It’s an uneven film, but that does add to the sense of unease that’s present throughout this atmospheric film.
Written by Elena Morgan
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008)
Dir. Robert B. Weide
After radical left-wing British journalist Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) becomes headline news for all the wrong, embarrassing reasons, he is hired by upscale magazine New York editor Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) to work for him due to seeing a glimmer of his old self in the youth. But when ego starts to take over, Sidney must put his feelings first, work with colleague Alison (Kirsten Dunst) and decide just what sort of person and journalist he truly wants to be…
This is a very safe comedy film; a tad predictable with the usual batch of characters – the fish out of water adjusting to a new world, a frosty love interest, a sly boss. It’s one of the first vehicles for Pegg to ride on to break America after his success in the UK and it easily plays to him perfectly as a cocky but lovable journalist. It’s a male version of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ – the underdog fighting to reach the big league in a cut-throat and very fickle business which plays on the idea of celebrity, ego and knowing the right people. With a solid supporting cast in the likes of Bridges and Dunst who all play their roles perfectly, it’s good fun.
Written by Chris Gelderd
Also currently streaming:
- A Taxi Drive
- Starred Up
- A Price Above Rubies
- Killzone 2