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 A Matter of Life and Death. Powell and Pressburger’s wartime faintest sees Peter, a pilot, connect with June (Kim Hunter), a radio operator, as his plane is going down – only for him to unexpectedly survive and fall in love with her.
But a messenger from heaven seen arrives to correct the existential error and escort him to the afterlife. A legal defence of love versus history is mounted, as the romantic epic hops effortlessly between the vibrant, colourful Earth and a black-and-white heaven. The stunning result was released as Stairway to Heaven in America, a title that speaks volumes of its celestial, swooning stature. Kermode notes it was made to engender better relationships between the UK and the USA and argues it to be “one of the greatest films ever made”. Frankly, we don’t much convincing.
What else is available to stream? Every week, we bring you a round-up of the latest titles on BFI Player+:
This Filthy Earth
Andrew Kotting directs this 2001 drama – inspired by the novels La Terre and Pig Earth – about two sisters, whose lives collide with two men – a villager greedy for their land and a kind stranger offering a chance of escape from their rural community.
Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, Sir Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet is a definitive take on a Shakespeare classic.
BFI Player+ continues to build its Akira Kurosawa collection with his directorial debut: a 1943 film about a feckless judo champ. Other movies by the director included in the monthly subscription range from The Hidden Fortress, Drunken Angel, Rashomon and Seven Samurai to I Live in Fear, Ikiru, Yojimbo and Throne of Blood.
With the Olympics upon, BFI Player+ gets into the sporty spirit with Alan Clarke’s 1973 film that follows a professional footballer for a day, giving an insight into the pressures of money and celebrity in the sport 40 years ago.
Henry Cornelius’ 1953 comedy about two vintage car enthusiasts racing from Brighton to London stars Kay Kendall, John Gregson and Dinah Sheridan, poking fun at the battle of the sexes, not to mention boasting attractive photography of 1950s London and the titular 1904 Darracq.
The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner
As Eddie the Eagle flies onto DVD and VOD, there’s always time to look back at Werner Herzog’s short film from 1975, which captures the eponymous ski jumper, who breaks record after record – until one goes wrong.
This Sporting Life
Rugby, eh? It’s not the glamorous life you’d expect – at least, not if you’re Richard Harris’ player in Lindsay Anderson’s 1963 drama, which follows his attempts to express himself away from the brutal playing field.
A BFI Player+ subscription costs £4.99 a month with a 30-day free trial. For more information, visit http://player.bfi.org.uk.