Film: Baby Driver, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Heat, Hustlers, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire
Damon Smith chooses some of his favourite films to enjoy from the comfort of home this week on streaming platforms and free-to-air services
BABY DRIVER (15, 110 mins) Comedy/Thriller/Action/Romance. Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jamie Foxx. Director: Edgar Wright. Screening on Sony Movies on Sunday April 19 at 9pm
EDGAR Wright puts the pedal to the metal in a high-octane crime caper which gleefully burns rubber to the hits of The Beach Boys, Dave Brubeck, T.Rex, Martha And The Vandellas, Blur, Queen and Simon And Garfunkel.
A stellar ensemble cast including Ansel Elgort, Lily James and Jamie Foxx wore tiny earpieces on set to perfectly synchronise their dialogue and movements to the rhythms and harmonies of a toe-tapping soundtrack.
It's a daring stylistic conceit and writer-director Wright packs plenty of substance beneath the bonnet of his well-oiled machine, which tracks the efforts of getaway driver Baby (Elgort) to pay off his debts to criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey) one heist at a time.
Expertly-staged car chases get the adrenaline pumping, opening with a dizzying flourish set to Bellbottoms by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Baby Driver is a bombastic blast, with at least one explosion of shocking violence that hammers home the perilously high stakes.
* * *
FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (12A, 99 mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen. Director: John Hughes. Streaming on Netflix
DURING the 1980s, no-one captured the bittersweet pangs of American adolescence quite like John Hughes.
Netflix is adding some of these classics during April, including his directorial debut Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, both starring muse Molly Ringwald.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is Hughes's unabashed love letter to his native Chicago. The eponymous high school senior (played with irresistible twinkly-eyed gusto by Matthew Broderick) plays truant by faking illness.
Ferris embarks on a madcap journey of self-discovery in the company of morose, hypochondriac best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara).
It's a perfect tonic to the lockdown blues, underpinned by Broderick's roguish charm and naivete as the enterprising teenager who learns that life moves at a frightening pace.
"If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it," he notes. Amen to that.
* * *
THE HEAT (15, 117 mins) Comedy/Action/Thriller. Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Taran Killam. Director: Paul Feig. Screening on E4 on Saturday April 18 at 9pm and Friday April 24 at 9pm
MELISSA McCarthy reunites with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig for an oestrogen-fuelled buddy cop caper that proves ladies can be every bit as politically incorrect and rough 'n' tumble as the lads.
In a rare instance of perfect casting, she is paired with Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock, one of the few A-list actresses willing and, more importantly, able to humiliate herself on screen for our amusement.
The two leads crank up the slapstick and verbal one-upwomanship, including a brilliantly simple visual gag with a knife that draws as many winces as guffaws.
Katie Dippold's script embraces and subverts hoary cliches of the genre as rivalry between Bullock and McCarthy's characters mellows into sisterly solidarity, adding a sentimental sheen to frenetic closing frames.
If the litmus test for any comedy is how much you laugh out loud then The Heat sizzles.
* * *
HUSTLERS (15, 110 mins) Comedy/Drama/Thriller. Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Keke Palmer. Director: Lorene Scafaria. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
WAS Jennifer Lopez unfairly denied an Oscar nomination for her sizzling supporting performance in writer-director Lorene Scafaria's entertaining high-stakes caper based on the magazine article The Hustlers At Scores by Jessica Pressler?
The New York-born singer and actress certainly sinks her painted nails into every frame of Hustlers, which was added to Amazon Prime Video on April 3.
She showcases every inch of her gym-toned physique with a jaw-dropping pole dance that affirms her slinky veteran showgirl, Ramona Vega, is mistress of her destiny and knows how to wield her sexuality with scalpel-like precision.
Scafaria's picture plays out a delicious battle of the sexes between the resourceful strippers and self-congratulatory Wall Street bankers in the wake of the 2008 global financial crash, taking us along for the topsy-turvy ride.
Crime doesn't pay but that doesn't stop us rooting for the troupe of self-styled Robin Hoods, who pilfer from the rich to give... to themselves.
* * *
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (15, 122 mins) Romance/Drama. Noemie Merlant, Adele Haenel, Valeria Golino, Luana Bajrami. Director: Celine Sciamma. Streaming on MUBI from April 10
NOT so much a fire as a raging inferno, Celine Sciamma's sumptuous period drama stokes forbidden desire between two women in mid-18th century Brittany and sets our hearts ablaze with ravishing imagery that loses none of its impact on a smaller screen.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire reunites the French film-maker with actor Adele Haenel, who starred in her feature directorial debut, the tender coming-of-age drama Water Lilies.
The bond of trust between them is evident in erotically charged sex scenes between Haenel's powerless heroine, doomed to an arranged marriage - sight unseen - to an Italian nobleman, and Noemie Merlant's painter, who is commissioned to produce a flattering portrait for the groom-to-be.
Cinematographer Claire Mathon contrasts the crashing waves of the film's remote island setting with emotions churning beneath the actors' expressive faces.