Picture the scene: it’s a Friday night sofa date, about 8pm. Your only obligations between now and Saturday’s breakfast are occasionally peeing, and putting the Merlot bottle into the recycling after you finish it. Nothing is grabbing you as you flick between tabs (you’re millennial, no one owns a TV anymore) – what DO you want to watch?
Turning this sorry situation into a moment of discovery is #FridayFilmClub, our weekly movie recommendation series on Instagram @Refinery29UK. Sit back, scroll our feed and let each storyline teaser video (created by collage artist Pia Hakko) inspire your night’s entertainment – we’re even telling you what kind of person each movie is suited to, for faff-free decision making.
#FRIDAYFILMCLUB ‘Billy Elliot’, Stephen Daldry, 2000
*For Fans Of* British films with a stiff upper lip – but a big heart.
*The Plot* It’s 1984 in County Durham, and 11-year-old Billy Elliot has been sent to boxing classes by his father – a coal miner on strike with his eldest son Tony. After happening upon a ballet class, Billy pursues dancing instead, against the will of his family.
*Starring* Jamie Bell as Billy and Julie Walters as his ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson.
*You Should Also Know* that the original title was ‘Dancer’, but was too similar ‘Dancer in the Dark’ which had won the Palmes D’Or (Universal Studios even mistakenly called the team behind Dancer/Billy Elliot to congratulate them).
#FRIDAYFILMCLUB The Man Who Fell To Earth, Nicolas Roeg, 1976
*For Fans Of* the late David Bowie, and his otherworldliness.
*The Plot* A humanoid alien crash lands on Earth, while looking for water to take back to his home planet. Adopting the name Thomas Jerome Newton, the alien uses technology from his planet to patent new inventions on Earth, with the aim of building a fortune big enough to ship water home. His plans go awry however, when he meets a woman and falls for earthly vices like alcohol and TV.
*Starring* Bowie, in his first starring film role.
*You Should Also Know* that Bowie said of making the movie: “I just learned the lines for that day, and did them the way I was feeling. It wasn’t that far off. I actually was feeling as alienated as that character was”
#FRIDAYFILMCLUB The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011
*For Fans Of* …or rather for those who *aren’t* fans of horror. Director Pedro Almodóvar describes the film as “a horror story without screams or frights.”
*The Plot* Plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Ledgard is suspended when he lets slip that he has been testing an artificial skin on humans. He keeps his experiment ‘Vera’ captive on his secluded estate, with the help of a servant, Marilia. Flashbacks reveal more of Robert’s past, his dead wife and daughter, and the true identity of ‘Vera’.
*Starring* Antonia Banderas as Robert Ledgard, and Elena Anaya as Vera.
*You Should Also Know* it’s probably best to watch this twice. The first time with your full attention on the plot, the second to relish the use of colour and texture – starting with that otherworldly, rich, creamy skin.
*For Fans Of* badass girls, 90s style and training montages.
*The Plot* After her family are murdered by corrupt drug enforcement agents, 12-year-old Mathilda seeks safety with Léon – an Italian hitman. Mathilda begs Léon to train her up, so she can exact revenge on the man who killed her 4-year-old brother. And so, New York’s most unlikely killer duo is born.
*Starring* An 11-year-old Natalie Portman as Mathilda, in a now iconic blunt black bob and 90s choker. Gary Oldman plays the psychotic agent, while Jean Reno stars as Léon.
*You Should Also Know* that the script was written in 30 days, and the film shot in 90 days. In the original scrip, Mathilda (aged 13/14) and Léon become lovers.
*For Fans Of* kooky mid-00s comedies, with a side of feel-good. Think, ‘The Squid And The Wale’, ‘Juno’ and ‘Sunshine Cleaning’.
*The Plot* One day, the sweet but shy Lars Lindstrom brings home a new girlfriend to meet his brother and sister-in-law. But Bianca isn’t real – she’s a sex doll he ordered off the Internet. Lars’ family and friends go along with the relationship, as a therapist works towards the root of his behaviour.
*You Should Also Know* that Bianca was treated like an actual person through filming, with her own trailer.
*For Fans Of* crying at weddings, Hugh Grant’s floppy hair and mushy Richard Curtis movies (he wrote this.)
*The Plot* Charles and his friends are single, living in London, and plagued by the suspicion that they will never find true love and marry (basically us and everyone we know.) Bumbling British hilarity ensues over four weddings and one funeral, as Charles realises he *is* in love – with an American called Carrie.
*You Should Also Know* that the budget was so small, the Scottish wedding wasn’t filmed in Scotland, and the extras had to bring their own suits. It went onto become one of the highest-grossing British films in cinema history, so all was well in the end.
*For Fans Of* not risking it on Friday The 13th: 100% safe sofa time with a feel-good road trip comedy, and an ending to make you grin through any superstitious tension.
*The Plot* Sweet but plain seven-year-old Olive qualifies for the ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ beauty pageant in California, and her dysfunctional family – overworked mum, failing dad, heroin addict grandfather, silent teenage brother and depressed uncle – pile into their VW van to drive the 800 miles from Albuquerque in order to realise her dream.
*Starring* Steve Carell as suicidal Frank Ginsberg, the excellent Toni Collette as mum Sheryl and Paul Dano as the Nietzsche-obsessed and silent Dwayne.
*You Should Also Know* that all of the young girls at the beauty pageant were real pageant veterans. They each recreated the look and performance from their real-life competition – all blow-dried hair, grown-woman swimwear and megawatt smiles.
*For Fans Of* Christmas – it’s a classic! But there’s enough gleeful booby trap pain for Bah Humbug Scrooges to find joy too.
*The Plot* You mean, you don’t know? Big Chicago family go to Paris for Christmas, somehow leaving a son, Kevin, behind. Unsupervised, 8-year-old fun (ice cream, movies, jumping on beds) screeches to a halt when Kevin discovers a pair of hapless house burglars making their way down the suburban street towards his home.
*You Should Also Know* that doctors have diagnosed the (pretty horrific) injuries inflicted on burglars Joe Pesci and@realdanielstern. That iron to the face? A serious facial fracture. The doorknob so hot it’s glowing? Burns so severe the hand would heal to be useless. …But who wants#HomeAlone to be plausible? It’s Christmas!
*For Fans Of* gilded, elegant and soaring films like The King’s Speech and Les Misérables (same director), but with a difficult subject matter that cannot easily be glossed over for Hollywood.
*The Plot* “I believe I am a woman” “I believe it too” When Einar Wegener stands in to model as a lady for his wife, artist Gerda, it stirs within him dormant feelings of femininity – and his female self, Lili Elbe is born. As the couple come to terms with Einar’s true identity, they decide he will undergo male-to-female sex reassignment surgery – the world’s first attempt.
*Starring* Eddie Redmayne as Einar/Lili, and Alicia Vikander as Gerda – who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
*You Should Also Know* that the film is based on a fictional novel of the same name, which is in turn loosely inspired by the lives of real life Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Although far more high-profile, Lili was not the first to undergo this type of surgery. Dora Richter (born Rudolph Richter) underwent castration in 1922, penectomy in 1931, and then vaginoplasty – a highly experimental procedure, and a success.
*For Fans Of* jaw-dropping feats of deception, sociopaths with charm, and the dreamy, sumptuous backdrop of 1950s Italy.
*The Plot* Is it better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody? Sent to Italy to retrieve the millionaire playboy he pretends to know, Tom Ripley lies his way into privileged life. As his deceptions spiral ever further out of control, tangled in unrequited love, the only solution is to eliminate those who uncover the truth.
*You Should Also Know* that Jude Law broke a rib while filming his (AHEM SPOILER) murder sequence. Ouch.
*For Fans Of* kaftan coats, boys with long hair, peace, love and Led Zeppelin.
*The Plot* It’s 1973. A 15-year-old aspiring music journalist with an over-protective mother blags a commission for Rolling Stone magazine, going on tour with rock band Stillwater and their enigmatic groupies, the Band Aids.
*Starring* @katehudson as the beautiful Penny Lane, in lace crop tops, flares and a fur coat worn like armour over her ultimately vulnerable soul. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman plays teen William Miller’s journalist mentor.
*You Should Also Know* that Penny Lane’s character is based on the real-life Pennie Lane Trumbull who, with her all-female team the Flying Garter Girls Group, toured the US promoting rock bands. Almost Famous is loosely based on director Crowe’s experiences of rock hedonism while a writer himself for @rollingstone.
*For Fans Of* pulling apart layers of meaning, finding beauty in the unexpected, and criticism of the ‘American Dream’ – like 2008’s Revolutionary Road, another by Sam Mendes.
*The Plot* Our narrator Lester is deep in midlife crisis: unhappily married, with a daughter who despises him. Infatuated by his daughter’s best friend, Angela, Lester embarks on a vanity quest for youth, breaking the chains of middle class conformity and sexual repression. Though his journey meets a fatal end, he reaches a peaceful conclusion on the true meaning of life.
*Starring* Kevin Spacey as Lester, and Annette Bening as his highly-strung, materialistic wife Carolyn. Thora Birch plays daughter Jane, and Mena Suvari the vain Angela.
*You Should Also Know* that critics and film academics are divided over the meanings behind American Beauty – originally penned as a play by Alan Ball. Even director Mendes cannot pinpoint a single interpretation: “a mystery story, a kaleidoscopic journey through American suburbia, a series of love stories…imprisonment, loneliness, beauty, funny, angry, sad.”
*For Fans Of* sci-fi with an eccentric and delicately romantic veil.
*The Plot* Shy and anxious cartoonist Joel falls for the enigmatic Clementine. After the relationship takes a downward spiral, Clementine decides to erase her memories of him through a brain laser company called Lacuna, Inc. When Joel discovers this, he chooses to erase their relationship too – but it is only in loss that they are reminded of their true love for each other. Like ghosting, with more brain damage.
*You Should Also Know* that Clementine’s every-changing hair colour helps us keep track, as the film flips from past memory to present, to future. With names straight out of the @BleachLondoncatalogue, Blue Ruin denotes the present, Agent Orange, we are in Joel’s Mind, and Green Revolution is the first time they met. The multiple changes are all thanks to wigs.
*For Fans Of* Tarantino, obviously. Jackie Brown pays homage to 1970s ‘blaxploitation’ films – a subgenre of ‘exploitation’ films, where sensational violence, gore and sex is used to draw in audiences for low-budget B movies.
*The Plot* Air Stewardess Jackie Brown smuggles money across the Mexico border into LA for arms dealer Ordell Robbie. When caught by detectives, she hatches a complex game of confidence and deception between Ordell and the law, with the ultimate aim of pocketing half a million dollars herself.
*Starring* #PamGrier as Jackie Brown, in a role crafted for her. The film is an adaptation of the novel ‘Rum Punch’ by Elmore Leonard, in which Jackie Brown is white and called Jackie Burke. Tarantino changed her race in order to give the part to Grier, and chose the last name Brown in a nod to ‘Foxy Brown’ played by Grier in 1974.
*You Should Also Know* that for #BlackHistoryMonth, we’re running a series of articles on black women in cinema – read an interview with ‘A United Kingdom’ filmmaker @iammaasante at refinery29.uk. We also encourage you to check out the fantastic work of the @britishfilminstitute and their ‘Black Star season’, @reelgoodfilmclub, and The New Black Film Collective @tnbfc
*For Fans Of* sad movies. Powerfully sad movies which hold a mirror up to the dark corners of our world and reflect the unbearably difficult lives some lead.
*The Plot* Claireece ‘Precious Jones’ is 16-years-old, and pregnant with her second child – the result of being repeatedly raped by her father since she was a child. Physically and emotionally tormented by her unemployed mother at their home in Harlem, Precious escapes her painful life through glamorous daydreams. A glimmer of hope is offered when Precious is sent to a new school, and is guided by her teacher Blu Rain.
*You Should Also Know* that for #BlackHistoryMonth, we’re running a series of articles on black women in cinema – read ‘Where Are Our Black Female Leads In Cinema?’ through the link in our bio. We also encourage you to check out the fantastic work of the @britishfilminstitute and their ‘Black Star season’, @reelgoodfilmclub, and The New Black Film Collective @tnbfc.
*The Plot* Andie is a working-class girl from ‘the wrong side of the tracks’. Her best friend is Teddy Boy-styled Duckie, and the pair are bullied at school by the rich kids. Andie falls for the rich kid with a heart, Blane, oblivious to the fact that Duckie has loved her all along.
*Starring* @mollyringwald as Andie. Molly is a ‘member’ of the ‘Brat Pack’, the nickname for a group of young actors who often appeared together in 80s coming-of-age films. Demi Moore is another core Brat Pack member...
*You Should Also Know* that, just like in the movie, Andie’s pink prom dress was created from two dresses cut and reassembled together. Costume designer @marilynvance wanted to steer clear of the typical strapless, full-skirted look, because it was unrealistic for cash-strapped Andie. The shoulder-baring, lace insert creation wouldn’t look out of place on a teen today.
*The Plot* Elvis-obsessed loner Clarence and call girl Alabama fall in love. An Elvis apparition convinces Clarence to kill Alabama’s pimp, a drug dealer called Drexl. The lovers escape the murder scene, accidentally taking a suitcase of cocaine belonging to the Sicilian Mafia with them. They decide to sell the drugs, but the Mafia are already hunting them down…
*Starring* @reachristianslater as Clarence, and @patriciaarquette as Alabama – in cow print skirts, pink leopard print leggings, and a turquoise bra. (Plus matching turquoise sunglasses, presumably because the rest of her outfit is so *blinding*). A slew of star cameos pepper the plot: #GaryOldman as sociopath Drexl, and #BradPitt as stoner Floyd.
*You Should Also Know* that Clarence and Alabama drive a pink Cadillac – which director Tony Scott gifted to Arquette after filming wrapped.
*For Fans Of* blood. Lots of it. Over 450 gallons of fake blood were used in the filming of Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2.
*The Plot* ‘The Bride’ attempts to escape her life as an assassin in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, after falling pregnant by their leader, Bill. She flees to Texas and meets a young man, but on the day of their wedding dress rehearsal is gunned down by a jealous Bill and the Squad. Her groom and unborn child are murdered. Four years later The Bride wakes from a coma, and flings herself samurai-sword first into exacting revenge.
*You Should Also Know* that Thurman and Tarantino came up with the idea for Kill Bill almost a decade earlier while filming Pulp Fiction. Tarantino offered the script and her role as The Bride to Thurman for her 30th birthday.
*For Fans Of* the soft lighting, pastel colour palettes and dreamlike atmosphere of Sofia Coppola’s films, like her debut The Virgin Suicides, and Marie Antoinette. .
*The Plot* Past-it movie star Bob Harris and college graduate Charlotte meet in a hotel in Tokyo, both ‘lost’ in an unfamiliar city, and ‘lost’ at that moment in their lives. With no complex plot, the film instead captures a brief encounter and chance connection between two people.
*Starring* Bill Murray as Bob, and Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte. Coppola wasn’t sure Murray would actually show up for filming until the first day, going by a verbal confirmation. Johansson was only 17.
*You Should Also Know* that Coppola wrote a lot of the film based on her own life. Charlotte’s husband John, who has left her alone in Tokyo while he completes an assignment, is loosely based on Coppola’s then husband, fellow director Spike Jonze. Coppola and Jonze filed for divorce at the end of 2003 after the film’s release, citing irreconcilable differences.
*The Plot* Jazz musicians Joe and Jerry witness a mob murder, and dress in drag disguise while in hiding. They join an all-female band headed to Miami, meeting and falling in love with lead singer Sugar Kane. Further disguises and deceptions are needed as the pair compete for Sugar’s affections. Cross dressing and suggestions of homosexuality meant the film was produced without approval from Hollywood’s outdated moral codes.
*Starring* Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane, searching for a sweet millionaire to marry. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play Joe and Jerry.
*You Should Also Know* that director Billy Wilder said of making another movie with Monroe: “I have discussed this with my doctor and psychiatrist and they tell me I’m too old and too rich to go through this again.” Monroe struggled to memorise her lines and needed many takes for each scene. She was suffering an addiction to pills, and lacked concentration. However, Wilder still insisted Monroe played Sugar “wonderfully”. Film artwork by @piahakko#R29Collabs
*For Fans Of* confronting the dark shadow that love casts over our lives: it hurts, it doesn’t last, it doesn’t fix us. Sorry. Fortunately, 112 minutes of Ryan Gosling’s face will blind you into blissful ignorance. What heartache? .
*The Plot* Man and woman fall in love. Woman finds out she is pregnant by ex. Man marries woman and raises child to prove his love. This is essentially a marriage built on sand, in a desert resting on tectonic plates. We discover this fact as the film lurches between past and present, unravelling the passionate but ultimately doomed pairing
*Starring* Gosling and Michelle Williams as the married couple, Dean and Cindy. The pair also served as co-executive producers, while Gosling wrote and performed some of the soundtrack
*You Should Also Know* that the film was initially given an ‘NC-17’ rating (equivalent to a UK ‘18’ rating) in the US, because of a scene where Dean performs oral sex on Cindy. Gosling accused the ratings authority of sexism and misogyny, arguing that if it was a girl on guy blowjob, it would be A-OK. They appealed, and the rating was reduced to an ‘R’. Feminist Ryan Gosling isn’t a meme for nothing, y’know.
*For Fans Of* staring at Joaquin Phoenix’s face and losing all sense of time in his deep-sea eyes…. where were we? If you were equal parts awed and disturbed by Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’, you’re going to like this.
*The Plot* Theodore Twombly exists in a future LA. Lonely and going through a divorce, he buys a talking operating system with artificial intelligence, designed to learn and evolve around its human owner. The OS names herself Samantha. As man and voice spend more and more time together the vulnerable Theodore falls in love, smitten by her curiosity, emotional support and constant availability.
*Starring* the aforementioned Phoenix, and Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Samantha. I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love with that voice?! Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde and Amy Adams also star. As humans.
*You Should Also Know* that Samantha Morton was originally cast as the voice of Samantha. She was present for every scene filmed, and recorded all the dialogue…until Jonze decided during editing that something was amiss. Gutted for Sam.
*For Fans Of* the Rio Olympics. Witness a true, if brutal, glimpse of life inside Rio de Janeiro’s favelas during some of their most violent decades. A shot of reality between the heats and medal ceremonies.
*The Plot* Loosely based on real events, the film depicts the dark descent into drugs, gang warfare and senseless murder which gripped Rio’s real life City Of God favela ‘Cidade de Deus’, between the 1960s and the 1980s. An image of one boy forced to choose and shoot another boy by drug lord Li’l Ze sears the mind early on in the movie. If this isn’t for you, you might want to switch back to the athletics.
*Starring* All of the amateur actors were cast from the favelas themselves, with some even from Cidade de Deus. Almost one hundred children attended workshops, where they simulated street war scenes through improvisation – lending a terrifying naturalness to the film’s violence.
*You Should Also Know* that City Of God director Fernando Meirelles masterminded @Rio2016’s light and colour filled opening ceremony, with a budget of £5million. (In comparison, London cost £25million, and Beijing £50million). Brazil’s first gold medallist of the games, judo champion Rafaela Silva, grew up in the Cidade de Deus favela.
*For Fans Of* Emotional rollercoasters which lurch from dramatic outpourings of love and secret affairs to death, set to the heart-swelling crescendo and face-splitting grins of a brash musical soundtrack. (You’ve got to like that sort of thing.)
*The Plot* ‘This story is about love’, our poet protagonist taps out on a typewriter. It’s 1900; Christian (the poet) has moved to Paris, and writes a cabaret to sell to the Moulin Rouge. He falls for the star dancer Satine, who is also being pursued by the cabaret investor, a wealthy evil Duke. Satine is caught in a deadly tug-of-war between true love and the stage. The show must go on, after all.
*Starring* Nicole Kidman and @mcgregor_ewan as Satine and Christian. Kidman was nominated for an Oscar, but really all awards should go to McGregor and his puppy eyes during the duets. They seared through our teen souls. Brilliantly, @kylieminogue plays the role of The Green Fairy (they had fairies in the 1900s who knew), with @ozzyosbourne voicing her laugh. LOL.
*You Should Also Know* that the soundtrack will have you wistfully starring out of the bus window and singing under your breath FOR DAYS. Luhrmann wanted to recreate the thrill of a 1900s cabaret, but for a present-day audience. Which means… pop music �� @xtina, @lilkimthequeenbee, @kissmya and @pink covered Lady Marmalade especially, for which we are eternally grateful.
*For Fans Of* Rookie Mag, feverishly spilling secrets into diaries, and daydreaming. Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut puts teen girl angst and awkwardness through a hazy lens, with dark results.
*The Plot* It’s 1974 in suburban Detroit. The five Lisbon sisters find their impending womanhood stifled by their devout Catholic mother and overbearing father. Imprisoned by strict house rules and dowdy clothing, they become an irresistible mystery to four neighbourhood boys. They watch in horror as the unbearable weight of being a teenage girl, the tension of sexuality, and their upbringing drives the doomed girls to a tragic end. “Obviously, Doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl”, declares 13-year-old Cecilia after her first suicide attempt.
*Starring* Kirsten Dunst as 14-year-old sister Lux Lisbon, and Josh Hartnett as her heartthrob in flares, Trip Fontaine. Did we mention the character names are divine?
*You Should Also Know* that the film is a feast of screengrab-able scenes. Hit cmd-shift-3 when the camera x-rays through Lux’s sack-like prom dress to reveal Trip’s name scrawled onto her underwear, or when Lux is left lying in the mist after sex on a football field. Your Tumblr will thank you.
*For Fans Of* British style subcultures, a killer ska soundtrack and makeover movies with a tad more bite than everything Anne Hathaway has been in. If you’ve seen the TV series (’86 ’88 and ’90) and haven’t watched the film, cancel your Friday plans right now and beg/borrow/but not steal a copy of the original movie.
*The Plot* It’s 1983 in the Midlands. A boy called Shaun befriends a gang of older skinheads, who take him under their stick’n’poke tattooed wings and make him one of their own with the help of a buzzcut, a Ben Sherman shirt and some child-size burgundy Dr Martens. Things go awry when an older skinhead called Combo violently tears apart the group with his far right politics and racist views.
*Starring* #ThomasTurgoose, plucked from a youth club in Grimsby to play Shaun, with no acting experience. #StephenGraham is terrifying as Combo, and @vicky.mcclure might just tempt you into shaving your head like her character Lol, the leader of the girls in the gang. Oh, and don’t miss #JackOConnell (the bad boy everyone fancied in Skins) as Pukey.
*You Should Also Know* that director Shane Meadows has hinted at a final film, taking our beloved mates-on-screen to the cinema for one last farewell. F**kin’ ‘ell, Lol we’re coming back!
*For Fans Of* quirky, Tumblr-ready movies with dysfunctional yet lovable families. Think Little Miss Sunshine, with the dusty, multi-layered tweeness of your Nan’s living room.
*The Plot* A family of former child prodigies are reunited when their father announces he has stomach cancer. Semi-incestuous romance, attempted suicide, unearthed checkered pasts and psychiatric turmoil ensues (trust us, it’s not nearly as depressing as it sounds.)
*Starring* Wes Anderson favourites Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Luke and Owen Wilson. And Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot, with a wooden finger.