Martha Marcy May Marlene to Persuasion: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Pick of the week

Martha Marcy May Marlene

The role that made Elizabeth Olsen a star wasn’t as a cog in the Marvel machine, it was as a young woman on the edge in Sean Durkin’s unsettling 2011 drama. Olsen plays Martha, who flees a commune run by the softly spoken but abusive Patrick (John Hawkes) and hides out with her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and brother-in-law Ted (Hugh Dancy) at their lakeside home. As her time in the cult is slowly revealed, Martha’s difficulty in adjusting to “normal” life – and paranoia that Patrick and his acolytes will track her down – makes her lose control. A sense of unease suffuses the film, from the whistling drone of the soundtrack to Martha’s intimations of danger, which may or may not be real. Sunday 17 July, 9pm, Great! Movies


Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s oft-filmed novel about the four March sisters of 19th-century Massachusetts might seem old hat. But writer-director Greta Gerwig draws out its modern relevance while retaining much of the original text. Debates about women’s roles – domestically, financially, creatively – are ever-present as Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) seek their different places in the world. Pick your favourite and relax into some quality costume drama. Sunday 17 July, 6.30pm, Channel 4



For her film debut, theatre director Carrie Cracknell gives Jane Austen’s last completed novel a romcom zhoosh, casting the glamorous Dakota Johnson as the lovelorn, sensible Anne Elliot and deciding on a loose relationship with Regency period speech. It’s a tale of late-blooming romance, lacking the youthful vim of Pride and Prejudice and so opting for quiet tenderness, as Anne’s regrets about a past relationship with Cosmo Jarvis’s sailor Wentworth – which had been blocked by her family – resurface when he reappears, still a bachelor but now much more eligible. Out now, Netflix


Now, Voyager

Rapper’s delight … Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now, Voyager.
Rapper’s delight … Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now, Voyager. Photograph: Alamy

Despite its array of stars, lush Max Steiner score and sumptuous design, Irving Rapper’s 1942 Hollywood drama proves to be rather unconventional. Bette Davis shows her great range as Charlotte, the timorous daughter of a high-society Boston family dominated by her monstrous mother (Gladys Cooper). After Claude Rains’s psychiatrist frees her from her parent’s grip, Charlotte blossoms into a confident, outgoing woman – one who is happy to fall in love on a cruise with the married Jerry (Paul Henreid), a romance that develops in surprising ways. Saturday 16 July, 3.25pm, BBC Two


Monsters, Inc

Pete Docter’s animated comedy is up there with the finest in the Pixar canon, and features some of the most infectious laughter in cinema (courtesy of two-and-a-half-year-old Mary Gibbs). Billy Crystal and John Goodman voice Mike and Sully, residents of Monstropolis employed to hide in bedrooms at night and jump out at human children, whose screams then power the city (“We scare because we care”). But then a young girl, Boo (Gibbs), upends everything they know. A sheer joy, even without the slam dunk of a kid running around giggling. Sunday 17 July, 5.10pm, BBC One


Full Metal Jacket

It’s a film of two halves, Stanley. Kubrick’s typically individual 1987 take on the Vietnam war focuses first on the dehumanising training of a group of US Marines, then on an ill-fated mission during the Tet offensive. Matthew Modine’s cocky Private Joker is the link between the two. He’s witness to the brutal persecution of overweight recruit Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (a terrifying R Lee Ermey). Later, in Vietnam as a forces reporter, he joins a patrol in an urban wasteland of bombed-out, blazing buildings (no jungle combat here) in a brilliantly sustained exercise in tension. Monday 18 July, 11.25pm, TCM Movies


Carnival of Souls

After she survives a road accident, church organist Mary (Candace Hilligloss) moves to a new city. But she can’t knock an odd sense of dislocation, exacerbated by visions of a ghostly man stalking her, episodes where she seems invisible to those around her, and a strange attraction to a disused out-of-town pavilion. Shot quickly on a low budget in 1962, Herk Harvey’s only feature embraces its restrictions by focusing on atmosphere, with an eerie, hypnotic organ soundtrack and visuals reminiscent of German expressionist horror. Friday 22 July, 11.05pm, Talking Pictures TV