The best things to watch this week on the big screen, the small screen and your laptop screen, including the college cannibalism movie Raw, new Terence Davies joint A Quiet Passion and Netflix teen tragedy 13 Reasons Why
You know how it goes: you’re vegetarian all your life, then one day you chow down on a raw rabbit’s liver as part of a college hazing ritual and before you know it you’re biting off your sister’s finger and eating your first boyfriend. That’s the gruesome chain of events in this stylish French horror film that keeps its mysteries close to its chest. Part sexual awakening drama, part feminist metaphor, writer-director Julia Ducournau’s control of her stew of ideas is deeply impressive. Remember the name, and read our interview with Ducournau.
Released Fri 7 Apr by Universal
A Quiet Passion
Like his namesake Terrence Malick, Liverpudlian filmmaker Terence Davies has suddenly become prolific. Unlike Malick, however, Davies appears to be keeping the quality high as the productivity increases. His latest, a study of the American poet Emily Dickinson, is a typically passionate and idiosyncratic affair, and among the very best work he’s done.
The dialogue is heightened and wry (this is by a wide margin Davies’s funniest film), his image is stately and measured, but prone to poetic flourishes, such as when Dickinson dreams of a mysterious man forcing his way into her boudoir. Cynthia Nixon, best known as Sex and the City’s career-minded lawyer Miranda, is a revelation as the feminist poet. Read our A Quiet Passion review.
Released Fri 7 Apr by Soda pictures
I Am Not Your Negro
Talk about a film for today. Raoul Peck’s free-form doc is centered around James Baldwin’s unfinished book about the black experience in America, with Samuel L. Jackson reading the text and Baldwin popping up in archive clips.
Our reviewer, Ross McIndoe, wrote that “Baldwin’s words slice intricately through race, oppression and ignorance with clinical elegance and without a single unnecessary flourish – if the film were nothing but a supercut of his televised appearances, it would still be something to behold.” Read our I Am Not A Negro review | Read our interview with Peck on the film.
Released Fri 7 Apr by Altitude
Win it All
Joe Swanberg is one of American cinema's most creative and productive talents – the 35-year-old filmmaker has 30 director credits to his name according to IMDB. After a decade of producing brilliant movies on shoe-string budgets that can glibly be categorised as Mumblecore films, Swanberg seems to have found a friend in Netflix.
The streaming service produced his whip-smart portmanteau series Easy, and they’ve also snapped up his latest, which follows Jake Johnson’s small-time Chicago gambler as he attempts to put his betting addiction behind him. We would complain that by releasing through Netflix, we’re missing out on a chance to see Swanberg’s film on the big screen, but then UK distributors were never very friendly towards his indie productions anyway, so we’re just glad we’ve the opportunity to see his new film at all.
Streaming on Netflix from Fri 7 Apr
13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why initially doesn’t sound all that promising: this 13-part drama about a schoolgirl who commits suicide is based on a YA novel and produced by Selena Gomez. It doesn’t exactly scream 'the new Stranger Things', but this very earnest teen show proves quietly gripping. The high-concept conceit is that Hannah Baker, a 17-year-old girl at an all American high-school, has taken her own life and left behind 13 cassette tapes revealing the chain of events that lead to her suicide – each tape focusses on one of her classmates who contributed to her decision.
It’s harrowing stuff, but the structure gives the series a thriller element as one of Hannah’s classmates listens through the tape and tries to understand why she did what she did. The young cast are also uniformly excellent. Each character appears to be playing a high-school cliche – the jock, the brain, the cheerleader – but soon reveal themselves to be much more nuanced and interesting. Get ready to binge.
Streaming on Netflix now