Molly’s Game to The Many Saints of Newark: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

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Pick of the week

Punch-Drunk Love

Emily Watson and Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love.
Emily Watson and Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love. Photograph: AF archive/Alamy

Long before he wowed with Oscar contender Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s way with a romantic comedy was evident in this quirky 2002 film. Adam Sandler stars as the diffident Barry, who runs a small firm that has something to do with plungers. His seven sisters boss him around, which leads to comic explosions of rage. Then, one sibling introduces him to Lena (Emily Watson) who has – slightly bizarrely – fallen for him. Sandler brings his talent for physical comedy to a sweet caper that incorporates phone sex, a harmonium, multiple chocolate desserts and a shouty cameo from Philip Seymour Hoffman as an ineffective blackmailer.
Friday 1 April, IMDb TV

***

People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan

People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan.
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

The gormless gang from Kurupt FM are brought back together in this successfully larger-scale sequel to the TV mockumentary series. When their erstwhile manager, Chabuddy G (a standout turn from Asim Chaudhry), reveals that a track of theirs has become a hit on a Japanese TV gameshow, the lads fly out east to capitalise on their newfound fame. But can they stay true to their garage roots? A culture-clash comedy that smartly focuses on the crew’s ineptitude and misguided bravado as they flounder in a foreign land.
Sunday 27 March, 11.55am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

***

Molly’s Game

The true story of a former skier who ran a high-stakes poker game for the great and the not-so-good gets the Aaron Sorkin treatment in this seductive, quick-witted film. Jessica Chastain impresses as the smart but underestimated Molly Bloom, who works her way into the exclusive circle of LA’s high-rollers by catering to their gambling demands, until hit by FBI charges. Sparks fly with Idris Elba’s defence attorney but it’s the power-dressing Chastain – driven but sympathetic – who is the tale’s principal focus, luring us into big-money poker’s inherently dramatic world.
Sunday 27 March, 10pm, BBC Two

***

La La Land

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Photograph: Dale Robinette/AP

It didn’t win the best film Oscar in the end, but Damien Chazelle’s part homage, part rewriting of the classic Hollywood musical is a joyous experience. Aspiring actor Mia (Emma Stone) and aspiring jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) fall for each other in an LA of primary colours and perfect sunsets – with the film as much in love with the city as the couple. Dreams – attainable and not – temper their affair, with Stone and Gosling’s non-Broadway dancing and singing (music by Justin Hurwitz) giving a naturalistic twist to the gloriously stylised visuals. SW
Sunday 27 March, 11.05pm, BBC One

***

Destry Rides Again

The sight of the glamorous Marlene Dietrich singing The Boys in the Backroom in a spit-and-sawdust saloon is enough to make George Marshall’s 1939 western a must-see. This was also the laconic James Stewart’s first oater, and they make a vibrantly atypical pair. She is Frenchy, the star attraction in a small town run by corrupt landowner Kent (Brian Donlevy); he is Tom Destry, the son of a famous sheriff, who arrives to restore law and order using his wits rather than his guns.
Monday 28 March, 3pm, Film4

***

The Many Saints of Newark

Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivola in The Many Saints of Newark.
Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivola in The Many Saints of Newark. Photograph: AP

David Chase returns to the world of The Sopranos with a Tony Soprano origin story. The 1967 Newark race riots in New Jersey are the spur to investigate the formative teenage years of Tony (played by Michael Gandolfini, son of James), and his relationship with his violent mobster “uncle” Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), Christopher’s father. Rivalry between the area’s Italian and Black gangs brings a new dimension to the mafia family dramas, but there’s lots for fans of the TV show to savour, particularly a younger but already petrifying Livia (Vera Farmiga).
Friday 1 April, 12.40pm, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

***

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck in the Miseducation of Cameron Post.
Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck in the Miseducation of Cameron Post. Photograph: Collection Christophel/Alamy

The horrors of gay conversion therapy are damningly laid out in Desiree Akhavan’s compelling drama, set in 1993. Chloë Grace Moretz is the titular teenager, caught with a girlfriend and sent to a Christian camp, God’s Promise, to cure her of her “gender confusion”. The counsellors, led by Jennifer Ehle’s Dr March, are more hidebound by religious dogma than actively evil, but still have an increasingly disturbing effect on their fragile charges. Luckily, Cameron befriends Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forest Goodluck), whose fortitude gives her hope.
Friday 1 April, 9pm, BBC Three

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