Heard of BFI Player? Well, there’s also BFI Player+, a subscription service that offers an all-you-can-eat selection of hand-picked classics.
Every Friday, Mark Kermode highlights one of the collection’s titles with a video introduction. This week, it’s Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates.
As BFI celebrates its Black Star season, Mark Kermode hails the film as a landmark of African-American cinema. Micheaux’s film follows a teacher in the Deep South struggling to fund a school for black children, which Kermode posits as a “vital repudiation” of the ideas in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation.
What else is available to stream? Every week, we bring you a round-up of the latest titles on BFI Player+:
A Gun for George
“In today’s world, justice comes too slow. Unless it’s decapitation.” That’s Terry Finch, hardboiled crime writer and scourge of local librarians. He churns out a series of novels about The Reprisalizer (tagline: “Judge, Jury, Reprisalizer”), a sideburned vigilante who wages war against the seedy underworld of Kent. But The Reprisalizer’s thirst for bloody vengeance, especially when it involves other men’s balls, is no longer welcome in modern society. Cue Finch going around town threatening and shouting until his books get republished. “I’ll come back and organize your whole collection by genre!” he yells at one poor library employee.
With its loving recreation of trashy 70s thrillers and unrelenting stupidity, it feels like a non-supernatural follow-up of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. No surprise, then, that this is the latest creation of the brilliant Matthew Holness. Given a fully-fledged plot to drive it forwards, a Terry Finch film could be a wonderful cult classic. The word a few years back was that he and Warp Films were working on a feature outing for Finch: see this first so you can tell them to get a move on with it.
One of Britain’s best current filmmakers, Arnold has gone on to make such masterful movies as Wuthering Heights, Fish Tank and American Honey, which just screened at the London Film Festival. This low-key drama/thriller, meanwhile, debuted at the festival in 2006, following a CCTV operator who uses the camera to watch an ex-convict and eventually becomes obsessed with him.
Another of Britain’s greats, Tony “Top Gun” Scott directed this dark 1970s drama about a couple who accidentally kill someone with their car. A portrait of love and loss, it marked Scott’s feature-film debut.
The Way Ahead
Carol Reed’s war drama about seven normal men who become a formidable fighting force is stirring stuff, even seven decades later.
Aleem Khan’s short film follows a young transgender woman in London, rejected by her family back home in India, in the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana.
The Forgotten Faces
Peter Watkins’ short docudrama is a faux-newsreel account of an Hungarian uprising in 1956.
The editor of Hitchcock’s Sabotage, Charles Friend’s final film follows schoolboy Tom Smith, who flies a pedal-powered flying machine with hopes of winning a high-stakes race.
A BFI Player+ subscription costs £4.99 a month with a 30-day free trial. For more information, visit http://player.bfi.org.uk.