9 hidden gems to watch this weekend

Nicole Pursell and Sarah Wharton in The Ring Thing. (Photo supplied)
Nicole Pursell and Sarah Wharton in The Ring Thing. (Photo supplied)

Cape Town - The cold weather outside is the perfect excuse to cuddle under a warm blanket on your couch and binge watch. This weekend, go off the “most popular” path and discover these quirky titles that have flown under the box office radar.

1. Last Passenger (Showmax)

A group of commuters, including a widowed doctor and his young son, taking the late train in London quickly realise their lives are in danger as the locomotive picks up speed and misses scheduled stops. The driver seems intent on taking his own life as well as those on board so it’s up to the six remaining passengers to find a way to stop the train in this nail-biting thriller the Hollywood Reporter calls “superbly executed”. The fast-paced British film is exclusively available first on Showmax.

2. The Ring Thing (Showmax)

Unpacking the realities of married life and commitment, this touching drama, available first on Showmax, focuses on lesbian couple Sarah and Kristen who unexpectedly find themselves questioning their future together. Sarah, a documentary filmmaker, accidentally proposes to Kristen and then begins to interview same-sex couples in an attempt to sideline her fear of divorce. Meanwhile, Kristen deals with the possibility of marriage not living up to her expectations. The movie uses an unconventional method by intertwining real interviews with real-life couples in the story. Sarah Wharton, who portrays Sarah in the film, told After Ellen that this contributed to the film feeling “so intimate and true”.

3. No Way to Live (Showmax)

Described as a “brilliant breathtaking thrill ride” by Film Threat, No Way to Live is a mash-up of genres that delivers one plot twist after the next. It starts off as the love story of two teenagers in 1950s America in a taboo interracial relationship. They decided to steal money and head for the Mexican border to escape their oppressive town, but that all changes when the characters’ true, dark intentions are revealed. “It’s not a film about race, though racial discrimination is part of it. It’s not a film about crime, though crimes are committed. It’s not a road movie, though much of it takes place on the road. It’s not a horror film, though it wears the mantle and styles of horror. It borrows heavily from all these tropes,” writes Film Threat.

4. Folk Hero & Funny Guy (Showmax)

Hit the road with warm-hearted musician Jason and his friend Paul, a struggling stand-up comedian who’s just been dumped. Jason convinces Paul to be his opening act on his solo tour and thinks it’s just what Paul needs to revive his stale comedy career. Along the way, the duo meet folk singer Bryn and invite her to be part of their show. But when Paul discovers Jason’s ulterior motive for the tour it creates a rift between the long-time friends. Variety says the movie is “a bromance with a bitter streak born of personal delusions, fears and failings”.

5. FANatic (DStv Now)

The leading actress in a hit sci-fi show is becoming increasingly frustrated with the way her character plays into stereotypes about women and confronts the producers. Added to that, a picture that suggests her husband (and co-star) is having an affair is leaked. She turns to her assistant for advice and help, which turns out to be a big mistake. As it turns out, her assistant is an obsessed fan who will go to extreme and dangerous measures to ensure the show goes on.

6. Pork Pie (DStv Now)

This little gem out of New Zealand follows the insane escapades of three young outlaws who become folk heroes thanks to social media. Travelling the length of New Zealand in a stolen yellow Mini Cooper, the trio (comprising a heartbroken novelist, a thief and an ex-fast food employee who all met by chance) form a beautiful, entertaining friendship. The film is an updated remake of 1981’s Goodbye Pork Pie. Nerdist says the movie is “a wondrous road trip comedy full of humour and heart, with a healthy dash of Kiwi sass”.

7. Cargo (Netflix)

Martin Freeman stars as a father desperate to find protection for his baby daughter before he becomes a zombie. The film is set in the Australian outback during a time when the world is under attack by a virus that turns those infected into flesh-eating zombies after 48 hours. According to TimeOut the film’s “big drawcard is its sheer humanity. There’s a lot of tragedy on show here, and you’ll have to be made of stern stuff indeed to make it through this outback odyssey without a few tears.”

8. When We First Met (Netflix)

Starring Adam DeVine (of Pitch Perfect and Modern Family fame), When We First Met is a sweet romantic comedy that toys with the idea of travelling back in time to change the future. Adam plays Noah, who meets the girl of his dreams at a party, but much to his dismay is placed in the friend zone. After years of wishing things had turned out differently, he gets the opportunity to relive that night with hilarious consequences.

9. Day of the Flowers (Amazon Prime

Two Scottish sisters, who are polar opposites, travel to Cuba together to scatter their father’s ashes. Not long after arriving, they lose the ashes. On their quest to get his ashes back and trace their family’s history in the foreign country, they encounter a number of romantic prospects, life lessons and culture shocks. They also uncover the truth about what really happened there three decades ago. The film, which showcases some of the best parts of Cuba, is “enlivened by engaging performances, a terrific soundtrack and a strong sense of location,” according to View London.