Wondering what to watch this weekend? For those who are looking to maintain the adrenaline high of John Wick: Chapter 4, this week in streaming brings you Nobody (2021) penned by Derek Kolstad (a writer on all the previous John Wicks). The film moves the revenge action into the context of a suburban family, their sense of safety stolen by an ill-advised robbery, as the patriarch of the family – a former government assassin (played by Bob Odenkirk) – takes bloody revenge.
On a similar tack is The Limey, a mean but also existential late-90s genre piece by the chameleonic director Steven Soderbergh, who takes to the revenge thriller as capably and as creatively as he has done so many other genres.
Read more: New on Disney+ in April
The film leads a mini-season of his works showing on MUBI, alongside Magic Mike (which got a second sequel this year in Magic Mike’s Last Dance) as well as his claustrophobic thriller Unsane as well as Traffic, all examples of the director’s use of pseudonyms in the making of his films (‘Peter Andrews’ as a cinematographer, or ‘Mary Ann Bernard’ as an editor).
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The Limey (1999) | MUBI (pick of the week)
Fresh out of a nine-year stint in prison, Dave Wilson (Terence Stamp) is on the hunt for those responsible for his daughter’s death. A seeming car accident and a connection to a shady Hollywood mogul named Valentine is all he has to go on, as well as a propensity for violence: his humiliating beating that happens in his search for information is swiftly answered with bullets.
As MUBI puts it in its description: “icons of the British New Wave and New Hollywood” are pitted against each other through Stamp and Peter Fonda, two countercultural figureheads spat out into a Los Angeles that feels ugly and oppressive. With smog hanging over the usually glamorous views of the Hollywood hills, the film mostly exists in the more unsightly areas of the fabled home of American cinema as Valentine’s web of criminals acts out in response to Wilson’s crusade.
Read more: New on Netflix in April
In the moments between Wilson’s fury and the scrambling response of his would-be victims, Soderbergh is a champion of little moments of small talk, humanising even the most random bit players as they argue over what “sliding scale” means or cruelly riff about the type of people moving through Hollywood. There's also delight in Wilson’s own East End dialect with many of the smarmy Americans bemused by what he’s even saying.
Despite its title character’s singleminded mission, The Limey feels like a kaleidoscope, as director Steven Soderbergh splices in footage from Ken Loach’s Poor Cow (1967) to build a vague past for Stamp’s character. He takes a similarly takes an enthralling and elliptical approach to dialogue, cutting backwards and forwards in time during the same conversation, or having lines of speech carry over images of characters examining each other, their mouths still as words and other sounds spill over into frames where they don’t belong.
In doing so he turns an otherwise straightforward tale of revenge and patriarchal regret into a vast, disjointed dreamlike haze, every shot gliding into the next. Wilson is accused of being a ghost, a stranger in his own daughter’s life and now that ephemeral relationship is turned back on him, we only connect to his loss through recollections of the same small glimpses that he caught of her life, and his remorse about a life deprived of human connection.
Also on MUBI: Magic Mike (2012)
Nobody (2021) | Netflix
In the first John Wick the head of a local chapter of the Russian mobs questions why a lieutenant is hitting his idiot son (Alfie Allen). The answer is simple and ominous: “He stole John Wick’s car and killed his dog”. The father simply replies “oh”, cementing Wick’s reputation as the Boogeyman with a single syllable.
Nobody has no such grandstanding. Bob Odenkirk plays Hutch, a suburban dad in an unremarkable life, who has worked in obscurity, but probably wishes that he was legendary. He's teetering on a midlife crisis before his masculinity is called into question by a home invasion.
Unlike Wick’s tortured hesitance at returning to a life of bloodshed, Hutch seems like he doesn’t mind so much. The Ilya Naishuller-directed film shares with that series a screenwriter in Derek Kolstad, who transplants the 'you robbed the wrong guy' premise into a more suburban setting, colouring the violence with midlife malaise.
Watch a trailer for Nobody
One-time sketch comedy maverick Bob Odenkirk is surprisingly convincing as a blunt force action lead, as the film leans into the same everyman appearance that gives Jimmy McGill a leg-up in con artistry in Better Call Saul. The film hits diminishing returns on that central Kolstad idea — some gangster chumps accidentally summoned a demonic hitman out of retirement — but it’s some capable, mean-spirited fun all the same.
Also on Netflix: Moonage Daydream (2022)
The Graduate (1967) | BBC iPlayer
One of Mike Nichols' earliest films is also one of his greatest and most influential. The Graduate is a tale of dissatisfaction culminating in one of American cinema’s most enduring images of youthful listlessness and suburban estrangement.
Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) is a college graduate wavering over his future, uncertain about building a structure for himself. Returning to his parents’ home in Pasadena, he embarks on an affair with Mrs Robinson, the wife of his father’s associate. Things become even messier when he falls in love with her daughter Elaine, resulting in a push and pull between the three; Benjamin at all points an awkward and terrible fool stumbling through a terribly ill-advised love triangle.
Read more: New on Sky Cinema/NOW in April
Come for the famous images and Simon & Garfunkel score, stay for the still-incisive satirical comedy.
Also on iPlayer: Sound of Music (1965), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Sorry to Bother You (2018), Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Smile (2022) | Paramount+
Written and directed by newcomer Parker Finn, and based on his own short film, Smile follows a therapist who, after witnessing a bizarre suicide, finds her grip on reality starting to slip when a series of chilling encounters with people with demented smiles seems to be the key to a murderous curse.
Relying on viral marketing and strong word of mouth, it became a surprise smash hit last year when it was released at the start of Autumn. The high concept horror movie took over $200m globally for Paramount against a budget of just $17m, far exceeding expectations, and now it's making its home streaming debut on the studio's own platform.
Read more: New on Paramount+ in April
Some critics called it generic, but the film's jump scares and creepy imagery clearly struck a chord with audiences who enjoyed its slow-burning tension, and there's already been talk of a sequel.
Also new on Paramount+: Trading Places (1983)