Choice of the week
Tuesday October 5, 11 a.m., 8 p.m., Premiere of Sky Cinema
It’s no exaggeration to say that much of the autobiography went into Billie Piper’s 2019 feature debut as a writer and director, and the result has a brilliantly uncomfortable sound of truth about it. Piper also stars as single mom Mandy, who has an amorphous role in a TV production company, a young son prone to temper tantrums, and two estranged parents (wonderful roles for Kerry Fox and David Thewlis). She is also negotiating a new relationship with her colleague Pete (Leo Bill) who is angry, opinionated, bordering on misogynist and, on the surface, totally unsuitable for her. It’s a funny, messy, tonic honesty affair, with lively dialogue and face-to-face camera work, as Mandy struggles to sort her life out.
Saturday October 2, 9 p.m., BBC Four
There are many examples of authors who lose their advantage when making films far from their country of origin. Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda mostly avoids cultural bear traps with this 2019 Paris drama, aided by Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as a conceited actor about to release his (vaguely factual) autobiography and daughter eclipsed screenwriter, respectively. His usually subtle explorations of family dynamics are taken up a notch, in a pleasant way, as the two great Frenchmen trigger each other.
Sunday October 3, 4:15 p.m., Talking Pictures TV
Otto Preminger’s 1944 film noir doesn’t necessarily hold up to scrutiny in terms of plot (although the same could be said of The Big Sleep), but it’s still a juicy watch. Dana Andrews plays cop Mark McPherson investigating the murder of incumbent publicity director Gene Tierney. He interviews people from Laura’s high society circle, including Clifton Webb’s protective columnist Waldo Lydecker, as his life is revealed through flashbacks. Webb is the film’s secret weapon, adding a camp stream of choice to the procedural mystery.
Sunday, 9.45 p.m., BBC Two
Barry Jenkins’ 2018 sequel to Oscar-winning Moonlight is an equally meditative affair, a love story distorted by tragedy adapted from a 1974 novel by James Baldwin. Stephan James and KiKi Layne play Fonny and Tish, a young African-American couple from Harlem in the ’70s reveling in their new relationship – and there are few contemporary filmmakers better than Jenkins to recreate such intimate feelings onscreen. But when Fonny is falsely arrested by a racist cop, family and love bonds strain.
Wednesday October 6, 11:15 p.m., BBC Two
Ava DuVernay continues her quest to bring the history of the American civil rights movement to the big screen with her 2014 drama Martin Luther King Voting Rights Steps in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery Alabama. She has conjured up a gripping story, which covers the headlines but also empowers black people on the pitch, suffering and dying for justice. However, everything revolves around King with all his frailties and courage in a bravery performance by David Oyelowo.
Thursday October 7, 9 p.m., BBC Four
A classic example of the monster as a metaphor, writer-director Jennifer Kent’s 2014 film is also a perfectly constructed scary horror. Essie Davis is convincingly concerned as Amelia, the sleep-deprived single mother of Noah Wiseman’s Samuel, who is certain that the Babadook, a black-robed creature in a mysterious children’s picture book, is coming. to look for. The answer to this question is held long enough to leave the trauma unresolved and parental guilt subtext (Amelia’s husband died in a car accident taking her pregnant with Sam to the hospital) play in their relationship.
Friday October 8, Amazon Prime Video
Perhaps not the most anticipated comic book origin story, with director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix taking inspiration from the Scorsese cinematic universe rather than DC. Phoenix is spellbinding as Arthur Fleck, a sad loner with an illness that causes random, uncontrollable laughter. He works the streets of Gotham holding billboards disguised as a clown and dreams of being a comedian, but is instead immersed in violence. It’s an environment taken from Taxi Driver, offering the darkness of Batman without the Gothic attributes.