Seven films to watch this week
Sunday May 27, 5pm, OSN Movies First
It’s probably safe to say that in 2016, not too many people were aware of the fact that three black, female mathematicians played a vital role in NASA’s efforts to send a man into space at the height of the space race. By 2017, $236M at the global box office and three Oscar nominations for Theodore Melfi’s biopic later, it’s equally safe to say a lot more people knew. Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae play the titular hidden figures, working in a racially and gender-segregated NASA research facility. The trio had faced discrimination, including not being allowed to study at ‘white’ schools or borrow books from the ‘white’ sections of libraries, yet were still instrumental in calculating the trajectories of both the Apollo 11 and later Space Shuttle missions.
Monday May 28, OSN Movies First, 7.55pm
Florence Foster Jenkins
Meryl Streep pops up in predictably Oscar-nominated form as the titular would-be opera singer. The only problem being that the heiress had a lot of money, a lot of dedication to the idea of being an opera singer, and absolutely no talent whatsoever. Steven Frears (Dirty, Pretty Things and My Beautiful Launderette) directs, so you can be assured there’s a warm loveliness to our heroines’ struggles to be, well, something she’s not.
Tuesday May 29, OSN Movies, 5.40pm
Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis reunites with his Ghostbusters co-star Bill Murray, this time as director, for a quirky comedy about a TV news reporter who finds himself waking up every day to report the same story. I'm not entirely sure what Groundhog Day is, besides the fact it's one of those strange uniquely American festivals that they insist on having rather than celebrating the same holidays as the rest of the world, but the cultural divide doesn't stop Murray delivering a typically on-point, lackadaisical performance as the world-weary hack.
Wednesday May 30, OSN Festival, 5.10am
The Great Gatsby
It’s lush, it’s lavish, it’s spectacular, it’s a visual treat. What do you expect? It’s Baz Luhrmann in the directors’ chair. The Moulin Rouge director takes on F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel about the extravagant businessman Jay Gatsby this time around, and it’s every bit as aesthetically satisfying as Luhrmann’s previous films, with Oscars for Production Design and Costume to back it up. The criticism could perhaps be that in being so visually stunning, it falls into the trap of becoming exactly what Fitzgerald’s novel was criticising – a dramatic triumph of style over substance, but there’s surely room for that on cinema’s wide spectrum, so treat it as one for the eyes more than the brain.
Thursday May 31, Sundance Channel, 5.10am
Krisha, a troubled woman in her 60s with a history of addiction, has been estranged from her family for many years. Her son, Trey, was raised by her sister, Robyn, for large parts of his life. Krisha has recently told her relatives that she is now reformed and sober, and that she wants to visit on Thanksgiving Day and cook dinner for the whole extended family. Trey Edward Shults’ feature debut received the Grand Jury Award and Audience Award in the narrative feature competition at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival. It was also selected to compete in the International Critics' Week section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Friday June 1, Paramount Channel, 4.45pm
So I Married an Axe Murderer
Light relief from Wayne’s World and Austin Powers star Mike Myers. The film was Myers’ first outing following the success of Wayne’s World, and perhaps suffered from unrealistic expectations following that film’s surprise success. Critics were lukewarm, and the film made a loss at the box office, but it’s still a good-natured romp in the manner we expect of Myers. His commitment-phobic beat poet finally decides to settle down after a life of short-lived relationships. As the title implies, however, his choice of life partner isn’t necessarily the wisest.
Saturday June 2, Sundance Channel, 12.35pm
Errol Morris’ documentary is a bizarre study of surely one of the strangest towns you’ll ever encounter. The director set out to chronicle the town’s residents because of an unusual record Vernon held – it has the highest rate of self-mutilation for insurance purposes in the USA. In the event, barely any of the director’s original plan made it into the final film as, unbelievably, that turned out to be one of the least strange things about local residents. From turkey hunters to self-replicating, radioactive jars of sand, the residents of Vernon turn out to be living proof of the maxim that truth is stranger than fiction.