On Screens: Why your next favourite film might only be on a small screen

If you’re reading this in ye olde newspaper, you probably don’t have Netflix (if online: far more likely) and are unaware of what’s happening: namely that big budget, award-friendly films made by reputed directors that you like, starring some of your favourite actors, are no longer making their way to the cinema.

A case in point could be the next Martin Scorsese gangster film, The Irishman, which is due out next year, reuniting Robert De Niro with Joe Pesci and a ‘who’s hoodlum’ of Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire goons. Ask any fan of this genre whether they would want to watch this film for the first time on a small screen, and the No will be fatter than Big Tone after he’s eaten yesterday’s manicotti for breakfast.

This isn’t well publicised outside the Netflix universe – either the way the streaming service is spending ever-increasing sums of money on blockbusters, or the films themselves, which tend to rely on word-of-mouth more than the word of the media. Besides, even the most dormant subscriber doesn’t escape the dreaded ‘Recommended because you liked Bambi as a kid’ algorithm, which is less accurate than a Danish weather forecast.

Utøja revisited
Following on from Annihilation, Alex Garland’s keenly-anticipated follow-up to Ex-Machina, which only enjoyed a limited cinematic release in the US, Netflix has scooped another big ’un this month. 22 July (Oct 10; Netflix) is the second film this year to dramatise Anders Breivik’s mass murder of 68 young Norwegians on the island of Utøja in 2011, so a handful of people (mostly twats who think it’s a worthy subject for art) would read the drivel he refers to as his manifesto.

This film, a passion project scripted and shot by British director Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips, Bourne films), has more scope than Utøja 22. juli, which focuses solely on the horrors on the island. Like with his best film, United 93, the real-time account of the doomed 9/11 plane that crashed after passengers stormed the cockpit, Greengrass has recruited no big name actors, instead choosing to cast a mainly Norwegian cast, even though the film is in English.

The action starts with Breivik’s detonation of a bomb in central Oslo, which killed nine people two hours before his slaughter on Utøja, and ends with his trial – mainly focusing on one survivor’s determination to see justice done in a country that is more sympathetic to mass murderers than refugees. With 20 million dollars to spend, and very little of that being spent on the cast, there are high hopes Greengrass has made a formidable film – such a shame, therefore, that it will mainly be seen by grown-ups on small screens.

Scot to be a hater
That description was chosen carefully to contrast with the kiddies glued to the big screens to watch Christopher Robin (59 on Metacritic; Oct 11), which alongside the latest Warner Bros animation Smallfoot (58; Oct 4) has been timed to coincide with half-term.

If we told you that Winnie the Pooh creator AA Milne was inspired by the stuffed toys of his son to write his books, and that CR went on to mostly forget the magic of his youth (beaten out of him in boarding school, of course), you could probably write the rest, throwing a requisite that only a Scottish actor like Ewan McGregor could play the repressed Englishman with the degree of self-loathing he deserves. Discounting the Trainspotting sequel, or would it be easier to forget it, when was the last time McGregor played a Scot?

Originality abounds
But then again, when was the last time Chris Hemsworth or Russell Crowe played an Aussie? This acting lark: it might require you to adopt an accent or even pretend you have superpowers. The pair front a strong cast in Bad Times at El Royale (66; Oct 18), a spooky thriller that has divided opinion – firstly because of Crowe (some journos never forget), and secondly due to its self-indulgent fondness to present multiple versions of the same scene.

A new kind of superpower has been entrusted to Tom Hardy in the Marvel movie Venom (Not Released Worldwide; Oct 11) – the ability to grow toxic slugs out of his back. Confusingly, this is the first film in Sony’s Marvel Universe – so distinct from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’re confused and you care, you probably deserve the pain.

Talking of different universes, we’re returning to the original, original one in Halloween (NRW; Oct 11), which with the same title as John Carpenter’s 1978 original brings back original stalkee Jamie Lee Curtis to take on cinema’s original slasher killer Michael Myers – again. This is the tenth Halloween film since the first, and you might remember that Curtis returned in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later to do the same. So is she going to come back in 2038 as well? For the purpose of both films, 1998 and 2018, they discounted all previous films bar the original. But why not discount that too, so we can all sleep easy at night. This is anything but original.

All eyes on Herve
The horror continues on TV with drama series The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix; Oct 12), which looks really good, and a new season of Making a Murderer (S2; Netflix; Oct 19).

And then the jeopardy continues in two high school dramas. Spanish-language murder mystery Elite (Netflix; Oct 5) probably has the edge over ‘the wrong side of the tracks kid coming to play football in Beverley Hills’ plot offered by All American (HBO Nordic; Oct 11).

But if we had to plump for just one new series to add to your list … it wouldn’t be Camping (HBO Nordic; Oct 15). Despite Jennifer Garner and David Tennant on board, this is cringe without the humour. Sometimes it’s better to stick to what you know, whether that’s Daredevil (S3; Netflix; Oct 19), Loudermilk (S2; HBO Nordic; Oct 17), Into the Badlands (S3; HBO Nordic; Oct 17) or Supergirl (S4; HBO Nordic; Oct 15).

And there are also plenty of strong documentaries. Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, who were both born in December 1934, recall their careers with two other octogenarian veterans in Nothing Like A Dame (87; Oct 11), while Kusama: Infinity (73; Oct 18) and Searching for Ingmar Bergman (NRW; Oct 18) recall the careers of two true artists.

Finally, we’ve kept the best for last: My Dinner with Herve (HBO Nordic; Oct 21). Starring Peter Dinklage as Hervé Villechaize (the dwarf actor in Fantasy Island, The Man with the Golden Gun), this TV movie has a great cast and director, so our hopes our high.

But while HBO might have a worthy cinematic challenger, it could learn a thing or two from Netflix about the art of making a blockbuster.

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