In the age of streaming, where two heavyweight services in the form of Netflix and Amazon Prime seem to dominate the platform, it’s easy to forget about the other services that can be used to watch and enjoy films on, such as BBC iPlayer. Though there is a limited time to watch these films, iPlayer provides a wide variety of films to suit all tastes, from documentaries, to biopics, to horror. Below is a taste of films iPlayer has to offer, at the time of writing.
Man on the Moon (1999) – Available for five months
A biopic of Andy Kaufman, the Saturday Night Live star, possibly shouldn’t have a history as interesting as the film itself. Starring Jim Carrey, Man on the Moon depicts the life of the Taxi star, from his struggle to “make it” as it were, to his sitcom hating days, to his wrestling career, to the end of his remarkable but short life. In perhaps a bitter twist, after playing tricks on his audience throughout the film, Andy realises in a desperate attempt to save his life, that he too has had the wool pulled over his eyes; and in that moment, he just laughs. It’s a hauntingly tragic performance by Carrey, who threw his all into the role (which is explored in a documentary entitled “Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond”) and it’s one that brings a tear to the eye.
The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018) – Available for thirteen days
Often regarded as one of the most important, or even the best, director of all time, Orson Welles left behind a mysterious legacy and this documentary aims to give you further insight into how Welles’ mind worked. Mark Cousins takes the viewer on a visual journey, showcasing the sketches and artwork Welles’ drew during his time – sketches of the people and places he found vividly intriguing. It’s an entirely new way to view his films and Cousins seems to have nothing but admiration for him. Though it seems to add more to the secrecy of Welles, it also begs to question of where his inspiration came from and of how he viewed his own conscience. Cousins documentary reads like a love-letter to the director creating an awe-inspiring film, for any fan.
Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Available for over a year
In what is often seen as a pivotal film for horror and zombie culture alike, George A. Romero’s classic film follows an unlikely group of allies as they attempt to survive the undead uprising together. It’s an iconic horror, one that has since gone on to inspire many other zombie films, including Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. Though filmed in 1968, it has remained as gruesome as ever; one scene depicts a failed escape attempt by the group, resulting in two charred bodies being eaten by the undead. The ending of hope for one lucky survivor is also snatched away at the last minute, leaving the audience feeling as hopeless as those trying to survive. It’s a must watch for horror, zombie and classic film fans alike.
I, Daniel Blake (2016) – Available for five days.
A gritty tale of how politics can affect the ‘little guy’, I, Daniel Blake follows its protagonist as he tries to appeal the decision that he is fit for work, after being told by medical specialists he is not. He forms an unlikely friendship with a single mother, helping her to survive on the bare minimum, and attempts to save her from a certain path of desperation, even though she sees no other way to feed her children. The Ken Loach film looks deep into how certain decisions from those in charge, can change us and turn protestors into us all. In one particular scene, after being told he must look harder for work or risk being sanctioned, Blake spray paints “I, Daniel Blake, demand my appeal date before I starve”. It’s a poignant film and one of Loach’s best.
Manchester by the Sea (2016) – Available for twelve days
Casey Affleck gives his best performance to date in Manchester by the Sea, as he plays a troubled handyman by the name of Lee who, after losing his brother, has to try to navigate his way through his grief and the subsequent responsibility of looking after his nephew, Patrick. The film is often fraught with despair; no matter the choices Lee makes, it never seems to be the right one, and though he wants to be there for his nephew, he also seems to realise that the best thing he can possibly do for Patrick is to not be in his life at all. However, despite all this, the film manages to maintain an air of possibilities – the possibility that Lee and Patrick can keep their new found relationship positive, the possibility that Lee can face his demons and, more importantly, the possibility that Lee can defeat his demons. A tragically beautiful film that will stay with you.