Hi Beehive gang! It's your friendly neighbourhood film-loving Barista, Bron!
If you're anything like me in isolation you're watching a lot of TV and film and enjoying the freedom to watch whatever you want (even in the middle of the workday - lunchtime Finding Nemo anyone?) That's great and Netflix, Amazon & Disney+ etc. are earning their money tenfold but I thought it would be a good idea to round up some of the goods available elsewhere (that don't require your credit card details!) So without further ado, these are my top picks of free online films:
The iPlayer has a wealth of content when it comes to films but they don't stay for very long, so get onto them quickly if something takes your fancy. The film category is pretty good though so even if these ones aren't there any more I'm sure you'll be able to find something else. Right let's get into it:
1. The Sapphires (2012)
An Australian dramedy based on a true story about a group of Indigenous women sent to Vietnam to sing for the troops. It's got great performances and even features your man, Chris O'Dowd plus a host of Motown hits you won't get out of your head! Well worth a look.
2. Paddington 2 (2017)
Yes, it's on iPlayer! An instant classic the Paddington films are fun for everyone (and their bear aunts!) all your favourites from the first one are back again, plus Hugh Grant in potentially his most dynamic role of recent years. Get those marmalade sandwiches at the ready!
3. HyperNormalisation (2016)
Bit of left turn here, but if you're looking for an interesting documentary about the crazy times we find ourselves in (pre-COVID, if you can remember back that far) Adam Curtis has got you covered. Trump, Brexit, Migrants, Syria, its got the lot and more. Also, it's 2.5 hours long so knocks out a whole afternoon! Winner.
4. Death on the Nile (1978)
If you're a fan of campy whodunnit murder mysteries or just love a well-crafted moustache and a cast of thousands this is for you. Angela Lansbury and Maggie Smith both take part and if you loved Knives Out last year then this is Rian Johnson's source material.
Best of the rest:
Ghost Stories (2017), Tomb Raider 1&2 (2001 & 2003), Sense of an Ending (2017), Sliding Doors (1998) and Spooks: The Greater Good (2015)
Also if you don't have as much time but want that cinematic good stuff then may I suggest the Inside Cinema shorts & Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema - both good for getting ideas for films to watch and packed with facts about genre and pop culture!
Channel 4 is also a pretty good place to find films and have a lot of different genres covered. Here's what they've got:
1. Trainspotting (1996)
Perhaps as quintessentially Scottish/British as it gets! And if you haven't seen it yet it's probably time you rectified that and took in the madness of young Ewan McGregor and note that everyone in the main cast has gone on to pretty illustrious careers.
2. Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Now I have to admit to not having seen this one yet but it's been on my list for a while so I feel pretty confident recommending it. Mira Nair (one of the first Indian female filmmakers) crafts a story of many romantic entanglements set around a wedding in Delhi in monsoon season.
3. My Life as a Courgette (2016)
A French-language stop motion animated film about a boy in an orphanage, very sweet and touching story about friendship and identity. I recommend as a little afternoon treat - it's just over an hour so very digestible!
Best of the rest: Croupier (1998) - a British neo-noir about a man trying to rob a casino. Includes a young and dashing Clive Owen. Mary and the Witch's Flower (2017) - Japanese animation with serious Ghibli vibes and a nice bit of witchy fantasy too.
Look, the only films available on ITV on demand are Carry On... films, so if that's your bag then all power to you! The nostalgia factor is strong with these guys but they have unsurprisingly dated significantly so be aware of that.
Now Channel 5 is only occasionally my bag, you know when you want to watch a show about large relationship age gaps or like Celebrity Ghost Hunt or something, and it's no surprise their film selection is the same. Although it has to be said if there were a category of films called "So bad it's actually kind of good and I can't believe I spent 2 hours on this" Channel 5 is where you would find them. Let's run through some favourites:
1. Piranhaconda (2012)
I think it's exactly as it says on the can. Some SciFi/Horror which I assume is in the same universe as Sharknado? Regardless probably worth a look if only for the set up.
2. Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus (2010)
I assume this is the same universe again. Can't go past this synopsis to draw you in: "Illegal mining workers find themselves in danger when a fierce battle breaks out between a shark and a crocodile." Honestly sounds gripping and ridiculous.
3. Mary and Max (2009)
Now, this is actually a real recommendation. An Australian animated feature with the voices of Toni Collette and Phillip Seymour-Hoffman it tells the story of a long-distance friendship between a young girl and an old man. Maybe a pertinent story for the long-distance life we're currently all leading.
Best of the rest: I highly recommend you peruse this yourself to find the absolute epitome of ridiculous TV films some of my personal favourite titles: A Daughters Deception, Cheerleader Murders, The Work Wife and Titanic II (probably for the best these didn't get a wide release...)
Just wanted to add the BFI Player on the end here because they have tonnes of free content from their archive available for anyone! And they curate it in lovely collections so you can choose all the archived material of anything from Cats vs Dogs to Cricket or the NHS in film! Also, a great way to explore British cinematic and cultural history! My top pick for a free collection is Sci-Fi - Days of Fear and Wonder which features A Trip to the Moon (1902) by Georges Mellies one of the first truly fictional films and the first foray into science fiction cinema.
They've also got plenty of rentals (if you do have some ££ to spend) at pretty good prices starting as cheap as £1.99 for fairly recent films. Some of the top picks on here at a glance are Shoplifters (2018), Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) and The Lobster (2015) all on for £3.50 a time. There are plenty of others also, that you won't be able to find elsewhere so I'd recommend giving it a look over!
Anyway, I think that's just about enough from me today. I hope this gets you going and I'll be back with another couple of film blogs in the next few weeks!