TV FILM OF THE WEEK: The Bay
The Bay, Friday December 19, Film4, 9pm
Don’t be alarmed: The Bay is not a reverential biopic of shameless Pearl Harbour/Transformers director Michael. But heckles might be raised on discovering it is another found footage film, despite the genre having produced some pretty decent flicks, from The Blair Witch Project through to [REC] and even the first installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise.
Thankfully The Bay has Oscar-winner Barry Levinson at the helm, who, having directed the likes of Good Morning Vietnam and Rain Man, knows how to piece together a convincing narrative. He negates any problems by eschewing the single video camera approach; instead The Bay is constructed of snippets from the multitude of devices used to capture and record media in the 21st century – 911 recordings, CCTV cameras, Skype conversations, text messages, YouTube videos, even the iPhone’s FaceTime app – that have become ever more prevalent in 24-hour news channel reports. Along with the very real eco-science that the film’s story is based upon, the result provides tangible authenticity and places us right at the heart of its horrific events.
Added to the mix are elements of Spielberg’s Jaws fused together with themes from 1950s sci-fi horror movies like Them!, David Cronenberg’s body-horror of the 1980s, Joe Dante and Roger Corman’s schlocky Piranha and even Ridley Scott’s Alien, all brought into the digital media age with blood-curdling results. Instead of a superficial shocker that relies on lazy “Boo!” moments, Levinson has created something profoundly unsettling, the cumulative feeling of dread becoming close to overwhelming by the time the credits roll.
SET THE RECORDER FOR:
Thursday December 18, Film4, 12:05am
Possibly the best antidote to the artificially saccharine festival of buying shit that is Christmas, The Selfish Giant is a sobering look at a side of British life born of ever-widening inequality. Its two lead characters (astonishingly played by non-professional actors) represent the sort of children you’ll never see in a John Lewis or Marks and Spencer advert – poor, troubled and prematurely forced to exist in an adult world by a system that’s stacked against them. The sort of social realist cinema that would have David Cameron’s toes curling, Clio Bernard’s film is harsh, essential viewing.
Boyz N The Hood
Friday December 12, BBC2, 11:35pm
With recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City showing that racial division is still as much of a problem in the US as it ever has been, it’s quite alarming to look back to 1991 and Boyz In The Hood. Although John Singleton’s directorial debut focuses more on the consequences that centuries of unresolved prejudice have created for the African American community, the fact that a nation as prosperous as America has failed to resolve them almost a quarter of a century later is genuinely shameful. None of which, of course, detracts from a film that remains as powerful as ever.
Youth In Revolt
Saturday December 20, BBC Two, 11:40pm
One of the best teen comedies to come out of the noughties, Youth In Revolt was criminally overlooked by audiences and critics alike. Perhaps it was a little too sophisticated for the type of audience the genre attracts, preferring sharp-witted dialogue to broad, goof-out moments. Either way, Michael Cera is brilliant as both hapless, smitten teenager Nick Twisp and François Dillinger, the suave, rebellious alter-ego he creates to try and woo Portia Doubleday’s sassy Sheeni. Cult classic status is surely deserved.
Follow Nick Norton on Twitter @OnlyForKoolKids