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Napoleon to Damsel: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

<span>Splenetically constipated … Joaquin Phoenix gives a hilarious performance in Napoleon.</span><span>Photograph: TCD/Alamy</span>
Splenetically constipated … Joaquin Phoenix gives a hilarious performance in Napoleon.Photograph: TCD/Alamy

Pick of the week

Napoleon

Upon its theatrical release, Ridley Scott’s Napoleon primarily gained headlines for the bullish way in which its 86-year-old director approached the concept of historical accuracy (“Excuse me, mate, were you there? No? Well, shut up then!”). Now it has finally found its way to a home release, though, we actually have a chance to judge Napoleon on its merits. And this has to be a good thing, because it has a hell of a lot going for it. It’s full of vast, broad spectacle. It’s funnier than most comedies, thanks in part to Joaquin Phoenix’s splenetically constipated performance. And then there’s Vanessa Kirby, who makes an astonishing Josephine. What an absolute treat.
Available now, Apple TV+

***

Damsel

Damsel is the sort of film that arrives with a readymade audience. A dark fantasy about a noblewoman who marries a prince and quickly finds herself tossed into a dragon’s cave – and starring Millie Bobby Brown to boot – should be a cruise missile to the heart of anyone who has ever caught themselves writing Labyrinth fan fiction on Tumblr. There are frocks and crowns and sinister gold masks, but there are also plenty of scenes where the girl from Stranger Things goes bananas at a dragon with a massive sword. Regardless of how good it is, I guarantee that this is going to be absolutely huge.
Friday 8 March, Netflix

***

Mavka: The Forest Song

Based on the 1918 play The Forest Song by the writer and activist Lesya Ukrainka, Mavka: The Forest Song last year became the highest-grossing animation in the history of post-independence Ukraine. Not only does it look beautiful – marrying Pixar-style characters with lushly evocative landscapes – but the story couldn’t be more timely, concerning a forest sprite who needs to summon a spark of rage to ward off invaders. Throw in a gorgeous soundtrack by folk quartet DakhaBrakha and you’re left with something very special indeed.
Saturday 2 March, 11am, Sky Movie Premiere

***

True Things

As fun as erotic thrillers are, it’s a sad fact that until recently none were set in Ramsgate. This all changes with True Things, in which Ruth Wilson – bored to tears by her job in a local benefits office – falls under the spell of Tom Burke’s mysterious stranger. Wilson’s interest curdles into obsession, and she disintegrates further with every tryst. Barring the sheer incongruity of seeing Wilson’s full-beam moviestar wattage try to pass itself off as normal (not even a supermarket sandwich can dent her glamour) this is a probing look at the dark side of female desire.
Sunday 3 March, 10.45pm, BBC Two

***

Other People’s Children

Good lord, the charm of this film. Rebecca Zlotowski in effect conjures up a sweet, sad, endlessly complicated romcom, between a four-year-old girl and her potential stepmother. Virginie Efira plays Rachel, a woman aware that she may not be able to get pregnant. She meets and falls in love with the father of a young girl, and tries to insert herself into the girl’s life, despite the constant presence of her mother. It is very charming but also wrenchingly sad – with a lot to say about the insecurity of step-parenthood – and a bittersweet ending that’s one for the ages.
Tuesday 5 March, 11:10pm, Film4

***

Lady Bird

While the world tears itself apart over how much Greta Gerwig deserved an Oscar for Barbie, here’s a welcome chance to revisit her first solo directorial outing. Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan as a high-minded high school student on the brink of leaving her home town for university. A giddy, talky movie stuffed to the gills with ideas, Lady Bird also has one of the most hilariously stacked supporting casts in recent memory. Laurie Metcalfe, Tracy Letts and Timothée Chalamet all play out of their skins.
Wednesday 6 March, 12:25am, BBC One

***

War

On Friday, Sky launches a new channel called Sky Cinema Statham, dedicated to – you guessed it – the work of gruff action star Jason Statham. The opening night is full of wonders. There’s Mean Machine. There’s Guy Ritchie’s Revolver. There’s Fast & Furious 8. But let’s concentrate on War, a full-bore action flick that pits Statham against Jet Li. Is it the best film ever made? No. Is it the most fun you’ll have watching a film at midnight on a Friday? Yes! Please watch this to make sure Sky Cinema Statham never goes away.
Friday 8 March, 11:55pm, Sky Cinema Statham