Pick of the week
Still: A Michael J Fox Movie
This isn’t a comeback film for the Back to the Future star, but in this documentary Michael J Fox is every bit as engaging and funny as in his acting roles. The shadow of his Parkinson’s diagnosis when he was just 29 hovers over the tale Fox tells of the secret of his success, from his scene-stealing big break in the sitcom Family Ties to the blockbuster time-travel trilogy and political comedy Spin City. The toll of the Parkinson’s is clear – clips from his work reveal the lengths he went to in his 30s to hide the symptoms – and his memories of denying his condition are distressing. But Fox is a trouper, always ready with a gag (usually self-deprecating) and candid about his failures.
Friday 12 May, Apple TV+
The musical version may have usurped it in the public’s affection, but Danny DeVito’s 1996 film of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel has a touch of magic too. Dahl’s cartoonishly violent childhood world remains intact, along with his delight in a good education and loathing of bullies. Mara Wilson is the bookish child who discovers she has the power to move objects with her mind, while a fine supporting cast includes DeVito and Rhea Perlman as Matilda’s blithly uncaring parents and a terrifically nasty Pam Ferris as school principal Miss Trunchbull.
Saturday 6 May, 3pm, ITV1
Nariman Aliev’s Ukraine-set road movie was filmed in 2019 – before the most recent Russian invasion – but the sense of a country unsettled by its past is tangible. Domineering Tatar father Mustafa (Akhtem Seitablaev) plans to drive his dead soldier son’s body from Kyiv to annexed Crimea to bury it illegally in his homeland, with his surviving son, student Alim (Remzi Bilyalov), forced to join him on the long journey. Family resentments, religious differences and historical trauma slip through the often silent tension between the two as they struggle towards their goal.
Saturday 6 May, 9pm, BBC Four
The 1954 musical is being shown in tribute to the pioneering African American actor Harry Belafonte, who died last month – though, in truth, the film belongs entirely to Dorothy Dandridge in the title role. Adapting Oscar Hammerstein II’s stage version of Bizet’s opera, Otto Preminger’s film features a groundbreaking all-Black cast, with Dandridge’s fiery, sensual Carmen luring Belafonte’s by-the-book soldier into an amour fou that does neither of them any good. The singing of both leads was dubbed, but the dramatic sizzle is all their own.
Sunday 7 May, 2.40pm, BBC Two
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Self-help books can fall victim to “delusional positivity”, says Mark Manson, but his 2016 bestseller – which this pithy documentary riffs off – is cut from very different cloth. Manson himself introduces us to its main tenets (learned via his personal history of failure) under headings such as You Are Not Special and Happiness Is a Problem. Featuring case studies as unusual as Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and a second world war Japanese soldier who never surrendered, he offers up his wisdom with a light touch
Tuesday 9 May, Netflix
The period in the 1970s when the IRA waged a bombing campaign in mainland Britain is ripe territory for drama, and Charles and Thomas Guard’s gritty, grainy film combines the thriller element of hunter and hunted with sadly still relevant historical storytelling. Colin Morgan plays Irish terrorist Michael, whose pregnant wife is killed in an ambush by Aml Ameen’s British soldier Tempest. When Tempest is sent back to London to join a secret police unit targeting IRA members, a vengeful Michael follows him, in a world where ideology trumps all.
Friday 12 May, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
Stephen King’s debut novel was also the first one adapted for the big screen in 1976, and Brian De Palma did it proud. Sissy Spacek is incredible as the put-upon daughter of a ferociously evangelical mother (Piper Laurie) whose nascent psychic abilities surface in grand guignol fashion. Before the horror kicks in, it’s actually an affecting coming-of-age drama, with the painfully naive Carrie the subject of bullying at school and abuse at home. Spacek and Laurie were nominated for Oscars, and the film pivots on their knives-out, love-hate relationship.
Friday 12 May, 12.10am, Channel 4