Streaming: the best movies set on airplanes | Movies
In general, the hours we spend on budget airlines aren’t the ones we particularly want to relive, so a film that vividly recreates the unique vibe of a Ryanair flight probably isn’t, on paper, at the top of your must-have list. But I encourage you to fight those instincts to Zero fuck givena wonderfully titled French film newly broadcast on Mubi.
Those three words could, I suppose, sum up the service experience of many low-cost carriers. Instead, they refer to the pushed-to-the-brim attitude of young flight attendant Cassandre, who works with growing exasperation for Wing, a fictitious airline that looks as close to Ryanair as possible (until to the garish yellow and blue mark) without taking legal action. Based, though barely rooted, in Lanzarote, she spends her days moving from one European city to another, racking up miles but with no real sense of belonging to the world. Her dream is to work for the noblest Emirates, though it’s questionable whether a better uniform and richer clients will make her that much happier.
Cassandre is played with a tangy spirit and a captivating and magnified emotional acuity by Adèle Exarchopoulos, in the most cutting-edge showcase for her gifts since 2013 Blue Is the hottest color. Bright and piquant like a character study, Zero fuck given is also the kind of sharp, anti-capitalist study of a service industry that makes you reconsider your role in it, even as you guiltily book that cheap flight to Budapest. Cassandre’s mistreatment by management and clientele alike is caustically observed by early writer-directors Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre, but it’s not a bitter or ungenerous film; beneath its top-down critique of an industry lies a tender, human sympathy for its heroine’s wanderlust.
It’s certainly the finest cinematic portrayal of cabin crew life yet, flintier than Gwyneth Paltrow’s windy pastel vehicle comedy of 2003. View from the top (Chile), which didn’t quite deserve the critical sticking it got, and actually funnier than Pedro Almodóvar’s wacky and exciting Madrid to Mexico prank I’m so excited! (2013; Mubi), the most disposable film by the Spanish master, but not without sparks.
Generally, however, films about flight play more on our fears of being in the air than on its comedic potential. The star melodrama of 1954 The High and the Mighty (Amazon) set the template for the aviation disaster movie, starring John Wayne as the first officer with PTSD and a host of dramatic passengers struggling with terrifying engine trouble; it’s pure Hollywood studio cheese, but highly effective, with a memorable Oscar-winning score. In 1970, Airport (Apple TV) took the formula to blockbuster levels, weaving crises both on board and on the pitch, with Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin stoically leading the action; you can see why it was a franchise birth smash, but how it was so thoroughly and riotously ridiculed a decade later by Plane! (Now TV) – now much more of a classic – it’s hard to watch with a straight face.
Since 9/11, dramatized with such sweaty conviction by Paul Greengrass in United 93 (2006; Netflix), while not a movie everyone wants to watch twice, the aerial thriller has been trickier territory. As claustrophobically well done as it is, the fictional film of terrorists on board 7500 (2019; Amazon), directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was in questionable taste. Probably the safest, then, for the airplane movie to head into completely wacky territory, like with Wes Craven’s tight and mean night cooler. Red eyes (2005; Google Play) or the character-driven drama of Denzel Washington’s alcoholic crisis pilot performance in Flight (2012; Netflix), which follows a grounded procedural form after a white-knuckle mid-air sequence. Or, indeed, the explicit dilemma of Samuel L Jackson in Snakes on a plane (2006; Amazon), among the worst theft films, perhaps, but surely the most quotable.
Also new to streaming this week
There’s comedic claustrophobic potential in Judd Apatow’s Covid-themed showbiz prank, following a group of actors forced to isolate themselves together on a closed film set during the lockdown, but the results are oddly caught off guard – a snapshot of recent times that already (perhaps thankfully) feels dated. The cast, including Leslie Mann, Karen Gillan and David Duchovny, tries, but the spark isn’t there.
Spider-Man: No Coming Home
After supposedly saving the bacon from cinemas for the past few months, this billion-dollar Marvel entry is finally making its way to streaming and DVD and even if you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve probably heard the full range of opinions on this. . Count me among those unconvinced by its tenuous, franchise-connecting storytelling, relying on a multiverse gimmick deployed far more inventively in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and its oddly lackluster synthetic spectacle. But what do I know?
Zeros and ones
After the Vatican explodes in dystopian plague-era Rome, an American soldier (Ethan Hawke) sets out to find the terrorists responsible. The synopsis sounds more like Dan Brown or Michael Bay than Abel Ferrara, but the avant-garde American author puts his curious stamp on this dark and philosophically deep thriller; one more for his more patient fans than anyone looking for conventional action.