Knives Out to Lucy and Desi: the seven best films to watch on TV this week
Daniel Craig puts in a tremendous performance in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery, while Amy Poehler explores the life and love of America’s first lady of funny
Pick of the week
Rian Johnson’s twisty homage to the Agatha Christie-patented murder mystery is also a satirical tease, forever teetering on the edge of the ridiculous. The usual suspects have been rounded up: a country house setting; a possible murder (of Christopher Plummer’s thriller writer); an all-star cast of family members bearing grudges; and an eccentric gentleman sleuth. Amid the flashbacks and unreliable witnesses, Daniel Craig enjoys himself tremendously as private eye Benoit Blanc, probing the motives of Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette et al; while Ana de Armas’s nurse vomits if she tells a lie, but still has something to hide …
Saturday 26 February, 9pm, Channel 4
In Billy Wilder’s heartbreaking comedy, Jack Lemmon plays nervy accountant CC Baxter, “a good sport” who lets his insurance company bosses use his flat for their adulterous liaisons, with the promise of promotion in return. Slowly and subtly, Wilder draws out the loneliness in Lemmon’s character, as getting his own office fails to make up for the distress caused by enabling executive Fred MacMurray’s affair with Shirley MacLaine’s sweet but clear-eyed lift operator Fran. The delay in getting to the romance makes it all the sweeter.
Saturday 26 February, 1pm, BBC Two
Imaginatively transposing the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes to present-day Chicago, Spike Lee’s 2015 musical drama is both topical in its denunciation of Black-on-Black gang violence and timeless in its themes of love and respect. Teyonah Parris plays Lysistrata, girlfriend of gang boss Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon), who is inspired by the death of a child to initiate a sex strike by all women in the city until the male-initiated killing stops. Lee’s caps-lock visual style melds potent musical numbers and rhymed dialogue to fine effect.
Saturday 26 February, 9pm, AMC
In the Earth
Writer-director Ben Wheatley revisits the hallucinogenic folk horror realm of A Field in England in this intoxicating lockdown-shot drama. Scientist Martin (Joel Fry) and guide Alma (Ellora Torchia) head deep into a forest to check on his old boss Olivia (Hayley Squires), who is researching the mysteries of fungi but hasn’t been heard from in months. However, Reece Shearsmith’s creepy nature worshipper Zach has plans of his own, as the boundaries between real and shroom-induced life begin to blur.
Sunday 27 February, 10.45am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
A Bigger Splash
Tilda Swinton reunited with director Luca Guadagnino after the exquisite I Am Love for this dark tale of passion under the Mediterranean sun – but it’s Ralph Fiennes who steals the film. His impetuous music producer, plus daughter (Dakota Johnson), turn up at the Italian island getaway of Swinton’s rock singer – who is recovering from vocal surgery – and her younger lover (Matthias Schoenaerts). The newcomers bring fun, energy and dangerous emotions.
Wednesday 2 March, 1.55am, Channel 4
Lucy and Desi
One of the funniest women today, Amy Poehler, pays tribute to one of the funniest women of yesteryear, Lucille Ball, in her fascinating new documentary. Ball’s will to succeed and comic skill are to the fore as we see her turn a middling Hollywood career into record-busting TV stardom in the 1950s, alongside her co-star and producer husband, Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz Jr. Their love story is central to a tale that also touches on male power and female agency, the immigrant experience, communist witch-hunts and, crucially, Ball’s legacy for female performers.
Friday 4 March, Amazon Prime Video
Daisy Edgar-Jones pivots here from the emotional nuances of Normal People to gristly horror, though the perils of dating are a common thread. Singleton Noa seems to have found her ideal man through a supermarket meet-cute with Steve (Sebastian Stan). However, his absence from Instagram – a red flag for best mate Mollie (Jojo T Gibbs) – is only the first in a string of events suggesting there is something off about him. The plot twist half an hour in (no spoilers!) flips Mimi Cave’s film into a state of black comedy it sustains gleefully for the rest of its potboiling story, as Noa fights for her survival.
Friday 18 March, Disney+
• This article was amended on 25 February 2022 to update the release date for Fresh, which was pushed back two weeks after the article had been published.