Hidden gems on NOW TV to stream while you're staying at home
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Are you tired of being indoors yet?
Whether you’re self-isolating in the wake of experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, or simply avoiding leaving the house in accordance with government guidance, you’re definitely seeing more of the inside of your home than you usually would.
With cinemas closed, you’ll likely be looking for something to watch on one of the many streaming services to which you’re subscribed. NOW TV has a mammoth catalogue of movies, including some of the newest releases from last year and a great deal of timeless classics to keep the whole family happy.
Read more: Best classic comedies on UK streaming services
But there’s also a great deal of stuff there to reward those willing to take a look under the surface and discover something a bit different.
Here are some of the best hidden gems for those with a NOW TV subscription.
Whether or not you’ve seen David Cronenberg’s 1970s horror classic Rabid, it’s well worth checking out last year’s remake. Directed by horror specialists The Soska Sisters, it follows a fashion designer — played by Smallville star Laura Vandervoort — who takes part in an experimental cosmetic operation after she is left disfigured by an accident. This fires the starting gun on a contagion, similar to rabies, which spreads rapidly.
Read more: Best horror movies of 2019
In the same way that the current health emergency has sent Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion to the top of streaming charts, Rabid has increased resonance today. But it’s also a fiercely gory horror treat with compelling things to say about fashion and body idealism, continuing the message of the Soskas’ breakout hit American Mary.
With the football taken away from us in the wake of coronavirus, it’s worth taking a journey through the surprisingly limited back catalogue of movies about the ‘Beautiful Game’. The Keeper barely made a flicker in UK cinemas when it was released in 2019, but it’s a charming and enjoyable biopic of the legendary Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann — played by David Kross.
Trautmann is most famous for playing the last 20 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup Final with a broken neck, but there’s a great deal more to his story. Born in Germany, he was a part of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War and so, unsurprisingly, he faced a tough fight to endear himself to British football fans. His story is compelling and, though The Keeper is a somewhat lightweight drama, it boasts some genuinely thrilling football action and a selection of lovely performances.
At the other side of the football movie universe to The Keeper, you can find Dave Bautista action flick Final Score. Set during the 90 minutes of a Champion’s League clash at West Ham’s Upton Park — they filmed at the stadium just before its demolition — it follows Bautista’s military vet as he uncovers a terrorist threat involving a mysterious spectator, played by Pierce Brosnan.
Read more: Bautista on risking his career to defend James Gunn
This is an utterly ludicrous movie, which features a motorbike chase through the stadium concourse set to Frankie Goes to Hollywood and a five-minute Brosnan monologue about a chicken. There’s a sense, though, that everyone involved knows exactly the movie they’re making. As a result, it’s a joy.
Possum, in the most complimentary way possible, feels like a battered video tape discovered at the bottom of a skip somewhere in rural England. The feature debut of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace actor Matthew Holness, it’s a grubby, gritty story of a disgraced puppeteer who returns to his childhood home and is haunted both by secrets from his past and by the freakish, spider-like marionette with which he used to perform.
This is a movie that gets right under your skin, assisted by Sean Harris’ terrific, taciturn leading performance, as well as Alun Armstrong’s loathsome supporting work. It’s a horribly uneasy, unnerving film that is not an easy watch, but is certainly a rewarding one for horror fans.
On the face of it, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters is not a particularly exciting film. It’s the story of an unconventional family unit, who rely on stealing to keep their lives going. But, with the benefit of Kore-eda’s witty, insightful screenplay and an ensemble of stellar performances, the movie emerges as something truly special.
It’s a movie that oozes heart from its every pore and delivers a magician’s sleeve full of storytelling surprises amid the intimate family scenes. The Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film it received was richly deserved and, in a less competitive year — the eventual winner was Roma — it would’ve been a worthy winner.
At the other end of the genre spectrum to Shoplifters sits Overlord — a splattery Second World War thriller, with zombie guts everywhere. It follows a group of American soldiers who are dropped behind enemy lines and discover that the Nazis are undertaking horrible experiments on human beings.
Read more: The real-life inspiration for Overlord
This is a big, brash, noisy movie from Son of a Gun director Julius Avery. It is not preoccupied with subtlety in any way, but is an entertaining ride of a story that delivers some delightfully icky gore and carnage.
Sorry to Bother You
British audiences had to wait a long time for Boots Riley’s debut film, with it arriving on UK cinema screens more than a year after it first premiered on the festival circuit. Set in a strange approximation of real life, it follows Lakeith Stanfield as a call centre worker told to adopt a “white voice” in order to sell more products. He soon climbs the greasy corporate pole and discovers things more bizarre than any plot synopsis could ever convey, not least Armie Hammer snorting the most cocaine anyone has snorted since the final act of Scarface.
Read more: Boots Riley on the satire of Sorry to Bother You
Compared by many to Get Out at the time of its release, this is a bonkers movie with dozens of ideas bouncing around and battling for attention. It’s also a viciously funny comedy with satirical edges that, if you’re on the hunt for something different, is well worthy of your time.
Dark River is about two siblings engaged in a power struggle for control of their late father’s Yorkshire farm. Fortunately, though, the film is a great deal more exciting than that sentence suggests, with Mark Stanley — recently seen in ITV drama White House Farm — and Ruth Wilson as the warring brother and sister. Sean Bean plays their father in flashbacks and it quickly becomes clear that there are skeletons in the family closet.
Read more: Why Ruth Wilson left The Affair
The director behind this is Clio Barnard, who deserves to be held up with Ken Loach and Shane Meadows as among the best British filmmakers working today. You’ll have to be quick to catch Dark River one, though, as the movie is only available on NOW TV until 27 March. It’s well worth fast-tracking it to the top of your list.
Eaten By Lions
There are few things more British than the seaside, and so the Blackpool setting of the charming comedy Eaten By Lions will remind you of the halcyon days when we were allowed to travel further than the fish counter of the local supermarket. Antonio Aakeel and Jack Carroll — who won British hearts with his work on Britain’s Got Talent in 2013 — play half-siblings on the search for Aakeel’s estranged biological father.
It’s a witty comedy with a cast packed with telly royalty, including Johnny Vegas, Kevin Eldon and Asim Chaudhry. In the current climate, any sort of warmth should be treasured.
The world of British coastal communities gets a darker spin in Jellyfish, which follows a young carer — played by the terrific Three Girls star Liv Hill — as she deals with having to assist her mother and younger siblings. Meanwhile, an inspiring teacher encourages her to pursue an apparent talent for stand-up comedy, which she uses as an outlet for her frustration with the world.
Jellyfish is a powerful movie, anchored by Hill’s tremendous performance. It’s not the most uplifting watch, but it’s cinema with a potent core of commentary about the UK in the 21st century. There’s also a running motif about the emotional significance of a packet of Space Invaders. Let’s face it, there’s nothing more British than that.
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