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 The Devil’s Backbone. Long before Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro creeped the hell out of audiences with his gentle 2001 horror. Set in a Spanish orphanage during the Civil War, it’s not long until the ghost of a missing child begins to appear to the kids. Independently produced by Pedro Almodóvar, it’s a typically grounded horror from del Toro, which focuses on the human as much as the supernatural, creating a sentimental edge that makes the scares far more powerful. Spine-tingling stuff.
What else is new? Here are the latest titles on BFI Player+ this week, as the subscription service serves up both Shakespeare and Charlie Chaplin:
Iona director Scott Graham’s brilliant debut stars the excellent Chloe Pirrie as a teen raised by her dad to run a garage in the middle of nowhere. The result is a calm and absorbing coming-of-age drama, shot through with a heartbreaking sense of tangible isolation. Read our full review.
Charlie Chaplin: The Rink
Formidable physical comedy is the order of the day in this dynamic Chaplin short, in which he plays a waiter running rings around an angry customer.
Charlie Chaplin: The Floorwalker
Chaplin’s first comedy for Mutual Films features the first film use of an elevator as a source for slapstick.
Love Me till Monday
Justin Hardy’s low-budget comedy-drama follows the attempts of 20-something Rebecca (Georgia Maguire) to find a bloke. Stuck in a dead-end office job, she hooks up with a string of men, but they only ever seem to last a weekend or two. Do they know where their relationship is going? Do Rebecca’s witching hour activities have any relevance to the plot? Love Me Till Monday drifts along with an aimless earnestness that both frustrates and suits its protagonist. Is she a witch? Goodness knows. But the cute honesty of her performance certainly casts a spell. Read our full review
From Rodriguez to Vittoria de Sica, the arrival of 1948 classic Bicycle Thieves on MUBI is a reminder not just of Italy’s neo-realism movement but also a demonstration of how versatile the subscription VOD service can be.
“It’s how the world is made. Men prefer sorrow over joy. Suffering over peace.” A study of mankind’s ability to wage war with itself, Kurosawa’s epic adaptation of King Lear takes Shakespeare’s family drama and blows it up to an almost impossibly big scale. At its heart, the simple foolishness of one dad’s inability to see the impending chaos around him. Three arrows bundled together cannot be broken, he teaches them – but, as one son proves, they can. All it takes is a bit of brute force. This is ambitious, audacious and breathtaking cinema. Read our full review.
Dario Argento’s baroque, operatic horror follows a student who discovers a powerful witch living in a New York City apartment block.
A BFI Player+ subscription costs £4.99 a month with a 30-day free trial. For more information, visit http://player.bfi.org.uk.