Pick of the week
Daniel Kokotajlo’s devastating debut feature is drawn from his own experiences growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness. Ivanna (a performance of quiet desperation from Siobhan Finneran) and her daughters Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) and Alex (Molly Wright), who has a serious blood condition, are dutiful members of a religious group in Oldham. But when Luisa falls pregnant by her non-believer boyfriend, she is “disfellowshipped” – cut off from her family and community. This act, and a subsequent tragedy, pick away at Ivanna’s life of unquestioning devotion, as the rigid rules of the faith stymie her love for her child and sense of humanity.
Saturday 29 January, 11.30pm, BBC Two
The Truman Show
Before the Big Brother house and WandaVision’s Westview there was Seahaven, a pretty US coastal town where Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) and his wife Meryl (Laura Linney) live – watched 24 hours a day by 5,000 cameras. In Peter Weir’s prescient 1998 satirical drama, Truman is the unwitting star of a hit TV reality show (and has been since birth), his every move tracked and manipulated for our viewing pleasure. But reality comes crashing in, and Truman has to choose between the perils of the unknown and comfortable picket-fence conformity.
Saturday 29 January, 6.55pm, Great! Movies
Dead of Night
This 1945 portmanteau film is one of the greats of British horror, if only for the chilling final segment of its five tales-with-a-tale. The brilliant Michael Redgrave plays a tormented ventriloquist whose dummy starts to get ideas of its own about their partnership. The other stories – directed by the likes of Robert Hamer and Alberto Cavalcanti – feature a haunted mirror, premonitions of death and child ghosts in country houses, plus the bonus of Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne basically reprising their Charters and Caldicott double act from The Lady Vanishes.
Sunday 30 January, 7pm, Talking Pictures TV
In the Heat of the Night
Norman Jewison’s 1967 crime drama is the late Sidney Poitier’s finest film – a fiery denunciation of racism wrapped up in a gripping murder mystery and decorated with a superb jazz-blues soundtrack from Quincy Jones. Poitier is Virgil “They call me Mister” Tibbs, a Philadelphia homicide detective passing through rural Mississippi who is roped in to helping bigoted sheriff Gillespie (Rod Steiger) investigate the death of a white industrialist. Poitier is magnetic and permanently on the boil, while Steiger nails the difficult shift from resentment of Tibbs to respect.
Sunday 30 January, 10pm, BBC Two
Florence Pugh first showed what a major talent she is in William Oldroyd’s dark 2016 drama, set in the north-east of England in the 19th century. She stars as the wilful young Katherine, married off to the son of a mine owner, whose feelings of neglect and humiliation push her into an affair with groomsman Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis) – which nothing will stop her from enjoying. Interesting racial subtexts (a Black maid is rendered literally voiceless) add depth to a passionate, potent work.
Monday 31 January, 11.50pm, BBC Two
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Enjoy spotting the references to Homer’s The Odyssey or just revel in the silliest performance of George Clooney’s career – either way, the Coen brothers’ Great Depression-era comedy boasts a breadth of entertainment value. Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson play escaped convicts who hit the road to find supposed buried treasure. Chaplinesque comedy scenes vie with dramatic encounters with the likes of bank robber Baby Face Nelson, bluesman Tommy Johnson and the Ku Klux Klan – all backed by a cracking folk soundtrack – as the inept trio attempt to reach their goal.
Tuesday 1 February, IMDb TV
True History of the Kelly Gang
Justin Kurzel’s impressionistic period adventure takes on Peter Carey’s Booker prize-winning novel about Australia’s near-mythical antihero Ned Kelly, and makes a good fist of the attempt. George MacKay plays Ned, whose hardscrabble upbringing in a poor Irish immigrant family leads him inexorably into criminality – events he writes down in an effort to keep control of his own narrative. Essie Davis is a fierce presence as Ned’s mother Ellen, while Russell Crowe has a nice cameo as Harry Power, Ned’s mentor in the ways of the bushranger.
Friday 4 February, 11.20pm, Film4