THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE (Cert 12, 127 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Drama/War/Romance, available from today on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from August 28 on DVD #19.99/Blu-ray #24.99) Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Bruhl, Efrat Dor, Iddo Goldberg.
Dr Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh) and his wife Antonina (Jessica Chastain) assume control of the Warsaw Zoo, welcoming crowds as German forces storm into Poland. Bombs rain down on the city and animals are killed during the bombardment.
Dr Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), who is known as Hitler's zoologist, arrives soon after and imposes his will. Antonina uses her feminine wiles to maintain a semblance of control of the zoo but her conduct puts a strain on her marriage. The blood flows as Jews are rounded up in Warsaw and sent to the Ghetto.
Two of Jan and Antonina's fri, Maurycy Fraenkel (Iddo Goldberg) and his wife Magda (Efrat Dor), are marked with the Star of David and the Zabinskis risk their lives to shelter Jews in cages and in the tunnels that run beneath the zoo.
Based on the non-fiction book of the same title by Diane Ackerman, The Zookeeper's Wife is a sombre dramatisation of a harrowing true story of heroism in 1930s and 1940s Poland.
The courage of the lead characters in horrific circumstances is truly extraordinary. Niki Caro's respectful and moving film doesn't reach their heights.
CLASH (Cert 15, 97 mins, Arrow Films, available from today on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from August 14 on DVD #15.99/Blu-ray #19.99, Drama/Thriller)
Set entirely within the claustrophobic confines of a police van measuring eight metres square, director Mohamed Diab's harrowing drama explores tensions in Egypt in 2013 as pro-military supporters of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi clash in the streets with the Muslim Brotherhood, who have been elected to lead the government following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime.
Egyptian-American journalist Adam (Hany Adel) and his trusty photographer Zein (Mohamed El Sebaey) are the first prisoners to be thrown into the police van.
As the situation around the vehicle degenerates, they are joined by a cross-section of Egyptian society including 14-year-old A'isha (Mai El Ghaity), an innocent cop called Awad (Ahmed Abdel Hameed) and a family comprising Hossam (Tarek Abdel Aziz), his wife Nagwa (Nelly Karim) and their teenage son Fares (Ahmed Dash).
ATYPICAL (8 episodes, streaming from August 11 exclusively on Netflix, Comedy/Drama/Romance)
An 18-year-old on the autistic spectrum learns the pitfalls of dating in an eight-part Netflix comedy created by Robia Rashid. Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist) is a high school senior, who is determined to enjoy the same growing pains as his classmates. Supported by his mother Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and father Doug (Michael Rapaport), who fears he has little in common with his son, Sam embarks on a journey of self-discovery that pushes him far beyond his usual comfort boundaries.
Sam's sister Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) faces trials and tribulations of her own and when the emotional strain takes its toll, Sam verbalises his concerns to his trusty therapist, Julia (Amy Okuda).