Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Sunday, 5.55pm, OSN Movies
Luc Besson's frenetic sci-fi has been back in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, with the French auteur's studio put under bankruptcy protection following $200 million (Dh734.5m) in losses for the 2017 film, the most expensive independent film made. Nonetheless, the bizarre dimension-jumping tale of magical energy pearls, little fluffy creatures whose digestive systems can replicate whatever they eat, a shape-shifting Rihanna, and telepathic SOS signals is a visual treat. It's worth a watch as an example of what a brilliant mind can do when given narrative carte-blanche, an endless FX budget, and minimal commercial pressure. Valerian simultaneously succeeds at being a stylistic triumph, and a commercial disaster.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Monday, 11.30pm, OSN Movies
Guy Ritchie's 1998 Brit gangster flick was the director's breakout film, and he's gone on to be one of Hollywood's biggest behind-the-camera stars, with his latest big-budget outing Aladdin. The gritty tale of card sharks, heists and competing gangs in London's criminal underworld didn't just introduce the world to Richie's trademark style, it also brought action stars-in-waiting Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones to international attention. How much of a good thing that may be is probably entirely subjective.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Tuesday, 7.30pm, Cinema Akil, Dubai
Cinema Akil continues its love affair with Japanese anime in general, and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki in particular, with a second Miyazaki screening in as many weeks, this time his 2004 fantasy Howl's Moving Castle. The story is set in a fictional kingdom where magic and early 20th-century technology are prevalent, against the backdrop of a war with another kingdom. The film tells the story of a young, content milliner named Sophie after she is turned into an old woman by a witch who enters her shop and curses her. She encounters a wizard named Howl and gets caught up in his resistance to fighting for the king.
Wednesday, 1.25am, Paramount
This J J Abrams-conceived, Matt Reeves-directed found-footage monster movie was the subject of an intense viral marketing campaign ahead of release, much like the daddy of the genre The Blair Witch Project. The film follows six young New Yorkers whose farewell party is rudely interrupted by the appearance of a giant monster – the Clover of the title – and a host of smaller, parasite monsters. The film has spawned two sequels, including last year's Cloverfield Paradox.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Thursday, 12.30am, OSN Enigma
Margaret Atwood's novel is best known to modern audiences thanks to the multi-award-winning Hulu TV series adaptation, but there was a movie adaptation by The Tin Drum director Volker Schlondorff way back in 1990. The film was critically mauled at the time despite a strong cast including Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Anthony Quinn, and a screenplay by the legendary Harold Pinter. I loved it at the time, perhaps in part due to being a student who thought Pinter could do no wrong, but it deserves a historical reappraisal. In an era where strong female leads were still an extreme rarity, and a year before Ridley Scott really upset the apple cart with Thelma & Louise, Schlondorff, a much lower profile director than Scott, deserves credit for the effort, even if the TV show has since superseded it.
Friday, 10.45am, OSN Enigma
Lisa Azuelos’s biopic of glamorous, immensely popular Egyptian-French singer Dalida, who reigned over the European and Middle Eastern charts for 30 years, first with her atmospheric, chanteuse-style crooners before reinventing herself as a disco diva in the seventies, does have a habit of slipping into the realms of sentimentality, but the film is a visual and aural treat, with spectacular cinematography and a hefty catalogue of Dalida’s songs on the menu. It also offers a glimpse into the incredible, if ultimately tragic, life of one of few stars from the Middle East region to have truly made her mark on global audiences, even to this day.
Kill Bill Vol 1
Saturday, 11pm, Paramount
You surely don't need us to paraphrase this one for you? Achingly cool, Uma Thurman, beautiful female assassins, samurai swords, David Carradine, Nancy Sinatra, Yakuza, bloody weddings, revenge. Of course, it's Quentin Tarantino, once again indulging himself in the B-grade grindhouse cinema of his youth, and once again turning it into a thing of high art. It's up there with his best.