Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to Pamela, a Love Story – the seven best films to watch on TV this week
Pick of the week
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The death of Chadwick Boseman could have put paid to this sequel, but director Ryan Coogler has braved it out by making grief the driving force of a film that sidles between sadness and splendour. It brings out the best from Angela Bassett, as the late T’Challa’s mother Ramonda, and Letitia Wright, as his troubled sister Shuri, but it’s the baddies who give the tale vim. The Talokanil are a superhuman underwater Mayan race who also have vibranium – the metal that gives Wakanda its superiority – and a history of resisting oppression. Their aquatic realm is sumptuously realised, its Mesoamerican designs complementing the African imagery that makes this corner of the MCU so distinctive.
Wednesday 1 February, Disney+
Don’t be misled by the setup of a stripclub dancer making her way in the business – Lorene Scafaria’s fact-based tale has several stiletto-heeled twists in it. Constance Wu plays Destiny, the new girl at a high-end joint that serves the Wall Street crowd, while Jennifer Lopez stands out as queen bee Ramona, who takes Destiny under her wing. “This game is rigged,” says Ramona of their hustling but – as the 2008 financial crash hits, and their way of surviving edges into criminality – she could also be talking about the banking industry, or US capitalism itself.
Saturday 28 January, 9pm, Channel 4
Probably the oddest film starring Burt Lancaster you’re likely to see, Frank and Eleanor Perry’s drama has his Ned appear at a friend’s pool party in leafy suburbia, dressed only in his trunks. He then decides to swim home via the neighbourhood’s other pools. As he passes through more residences and meets people he knows – welcoming or not – the reasons for his weird behaviour become apparent. It’s a film of contrasts, between sun-dappled comfort and dark mystery, and Lancaster’s athletic persona and his character’s unsettling actions.
Monday 30 January, 2.10pm, Film4
Pamela, a Love Story
What a smart move by Ryan White to base his documentary about Pamela Anderson round her home movies. It simultaneously shows the Playboy model turned Baywatch actor as a loved-up partner and devoted mother, and mitigates the effect of the sex tape that nearly destroyed her life. In interviews, Anderson comes across as personable and funny, all while candidly discussing her childhood abuse, serial marriages to “bad boys” and how, despite him being jailed for spousal abuse, Tommy Lee is still the love of her life. An indomitable spirit.
Tuesday 31 January, Netflix
The square screen ratio and black-and-white camerawork give this tale set in communist Czechoslovakia an impressively boxed-in, oppressive feel. At a Catholic seminary in Bratislava, two new students discover their institution is both a hotbed of anti-state resistance and collaboration with the regime. From sending news reports to Radio Free Europe to presiding over secret religious gatherings, pupils and priests experience shadowy danger and whispered defiance.
Tuesday 31 January, 2.15am, Film4
Hope Dickson Leach’s 2016 debut is a moving, lucid drama about the financial knife-edge that farmers in the UK exist on, as well as the bonds that can bind or break families. Ellie Kendrick’s veterinary student Clover returns to her father’s dairy farm on the Somerset Levels after her brother Harry’s suicide. As she tries to uncover why he killed himself, she works through long-held antagonisms with dad Aubrey (a superbly nuanced David Troughton) about her childhood and leaving home. The always believable Kendrick does the heavy emotional lifting in a film suffused with loss and desperation.
Thursday 2 February, 1.15am, BBC Two
Adam McKay’s brand of pointed political satire is brought to bear on Dick Cheney, the ghost president during George W Bush’s time in office. It’s a measure of the film-maker’s skill that you root for the whip-smart operator as he slides up the slippery pole of power – from drunken ne’er-do-well to a US vice-president who redefined torture, ripped up privacy laws and initiated a spurious war in Iraq. Christian Bale inhabits the part with admirable perspicacity, while Steve Carell is terrifically obnoxious as fellow traveller Donald Rumsfeld.
Friday 3 February, 11.05pm, BBC Two