Pick of the week
The strand of surreal Greek film-making that gave us The Favourite’s Yorgos Lanthimos has another acolyte in Christos Nikou. In his weird but very human new drama, Jessie Buckley’s Anna gets a job at the Love Institute, which can scientifically prove whether couples are in love or not by testing a fingernail and offers classes to improve their chances. Her mentor is Amir (Riz Ahmed) with whom she becomes close, despite being officially in love with Ryan (Jeremy Allen White). The film has fun with the absurdity of formalising emotions, while in the sensitive hands of Buckley and Ahmed the odd scenario seems almost believable.
Out now, Apple TV+
The sparky pairing of Awkwafina and Sandra Oh gives Jessica Yu’s comedy the oomph it needs to surmount the plot’s more obvious twists. Anne (Awkwafina) is the introverted office drone who can answer all the questions on her favourite TV quizshow Can’t Stop the Quiz. Jenny (Oh) is her extroverted, impetuous older sister, who pushes the reluctant Anne to become a contestant. Naturally, their time together proves a bonding experience, but Will Ferrell’s host and Jason Schwartzman’s long-running quiz champion keep it zesty.
Out now, Disney+
That’s Stallone not Stone – sadly for soul music types but happily for fans of musclebound action drama. How a kid from Hell’s Kitchen with a violent, jealous father won an Oscar then helmed three major movie franchises is a fascinating tale, and director Thom Zimny dutifully takes us through the crux points in this documentary. What’s most interesting is how Stallone wrote himself into a career (with Rocky) and then worked through his personal issues – fathers and sons, failure and redemption – in his movies, many of which he had a hand in penning.
Out now, Netflix
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
In fair Verona Beach we lay our scene … From the BBC’s exhaustive Shakespeare season comes the most purely entertaining film adaptation of the bard’s work yet. Baz Luhrmann transposes the tragic love story to a modern-day US coastal city full of colour and chaos. Backed by an on-the-nose pop soundtrack, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes fall into a precipitous but convincing romance, depicted with chutzpah but respect for the language. Of the supporting cast, Harold Perrineau’s flamboyant Mercutio nearly steals the show from our star-cross’d lovers.
Tuesday 7 November, 10.40pm, BBC One
Hit the Road
A father, a mother and their two sons are taking a road trip into the mountains, where they will say farewell in mysterious fashion to the eldest child. Being set in Iran, the political ramifications of his departure can be guessed at, but Panah Panahi’s witty, wonderful drama revolves round family concerns – the pain of leaving and being left, the bond that will remain. It’s far from a sob story, though, epitomised by the incorrigible, chatterbox youngest son (a delightful Rayan Sarlak).
Tuesday 7 November, 11.25pm, Film4
Body of Water
A committed performance from Siân Brooke adds complexity to Lucy Brydon’s debut feature, which follows a recovering anorexic who isn’t really recovering at all. Leaving a residential facility after seven months, Stephanie attempts to re-establish her relationship with her headstrong 15-year-old daughter Pearl (Fabienne Piolini-Castle) and long-suffering mother (Amanda Burton). Distressingly thin but drawn to “pro-ana” websites, for Stephanie even the simple act of eating is a struggle she can’t persuade herself to win. A painful but necessary watch.
Tuesday 7 November, 12.15am, BBC Two
Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose
This off-the-wall real-life case gets a surprisingly sober treatment in Adam Sigal’s 1930s-set comedy-drama. Hungarian parapsychologist Dr Fodor (a permanently frustrated Simon Pegg) and his assistant Anne (Minnie Driver) visit the Isle of Man to investigate a farming family who claim to have an intelligent mongoose, named Gef, who talks. Fodor suspects the daughter – a self-confessed ventriloquist – while Gef (voiced, weirdly, by Neil Gaiman) proves tantalisingly elusive. A pleasurable tale of mild British eccentricity.
Wednesday 8 November, Prime Video