Thirteen Lives to Terminator 2: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Pick of the week

Thirteen Lives

The plain facts behind Ron Howard’s new film are extraordinary, even without dramatisation. In 2018, 12 boys and their football coach became trapped by flood waters in a cave system in Thailand. As the monsoon threatened, an international operation – including Thai Navy Seals and two UK cave rescuers – struggled to save them. To his credit, Howard tells the tale with minimal fuss; the uptick in tension as the days pass and the extreme claustrophobia of the underwater scenes are enough to make it gripping. There is star wattage from Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen as the British divers but they are admirably understated, and the Thai people involved are given their due, too. Out now, Amazon Prime Video


Theatre of Blood

Vincent Price plays around with his own outsized image in this grand guignol 1973 comedy. He stars as hammy actor Edward Lionheart, who killed himself after failing to win a Critics Circle theatre award for his Shakespeare performances – or did he? When newspaper critics who gave him poor reviews start being murdered exactly like the Bard’s characters, suspicion falls on his daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg). It’s all very silly, but flamboyantly inventive. Tuesday 2 August, 12.05am, Talking Pictures TV


The Band Wagon

On the hoof … Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon.
On the hoof … Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon. Photograph: Alamy

The age-gap romance between Fred Astaire’s on-the-slide “song-and-dance man” Tony and Cyd Charisse’s ballet dancer Gabrielle isn’t the classiest of moves, but this Vincente Minnelli-directed MGM musical is still one of the great putting-on-a-show films. The fraught creation of a modern-day Broadway remake of Faust is tempered by jolly songs such as That’s Entertainment and Triplets, and the jazzy, film noir-spoofing dance piece Girl Hunt Ballet. Needless to say, the hoofing is top-notch, with Charisse giving Astaire a run for his money. Friday 5 August, 1.50pm, BBC Two


Some Like It Hot

All that jazz … Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.
All that jazz … Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. Photograph: APL Archive/Alamy

A double helping of musical Marilyn Monroe this afternoon. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is at 3.55pm, but first up is Billy Wilder’s effortless 1959 romantic comedy. Monroe slinks her way through one of her most famous numbers, I Wanna Be Loved By You, but the film is largely interested in laughs, as Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon’s jazz musicians witness a mob hit and have to go on the run disguised as female players. Lemmon in particular has a ball with the gender fluidity, while Curtis does his best Cary Grant impression as he woos Monroe’s hapless singer. Saturday 30 July, 1.15pm, BBC Two


Napoleon Dynamite

Nerdy, gormless Idaho teenager Napoleon (Jon Heder) has little to recommend him, aside from stubbornness in the face of daily humiliations. But finding a friend in new boy at school Pedro (Efren Ramirez) and a possible girlfriend in Tina Majorino’s Deb gives him purpose. Director and co-writer Jared Hess apparently based the film on his own experiences growing up, which slightly boggles the mind as this brilliantly deadpan comedy seems to exist in an eccentric world all of its own. Sunday 31 July, 6.25pm, 3am, Sky Cinema Cult Classics



Carry on at your convenience store … Dante Hicks in Clerks.
Carry on at your convenience store … Dante Hicks in Clerks. Photograph: Entertainment /Alamy

Slacker auteur Kevin Smith’s 1994 debut is a comical, cynical study of the McJob, following a day in the lives of convenience store worker Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and video shop employee Randal (Jeff Anderson). Inspired by The Divine Comedy – ergo Dante – the film shows us a circle of hell reserved for the service sector. The dreariness of the friends’ dead-end jobs is offset by snappy dialogue (the Death Star conversation is priceless), some romantic intrigue and the sporadic appearance of customers to serve – if they can be bothered. Monday 1 August, 8pm, Sky Cinema Cult Classics


Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Just as he did with Aliens, James Cameron took a cult classic – this time his own The Terminator – and blew it up. Bigger action sequences, better special effects (Robert Patrick’s liquifying T-1000 was a game-changer) and a relatable mother-child setup, plus Arnold Schwarzenegger flipping to the good side, make his 1991 sequel a fantastic watch to this day. Linda Hamilton, pumped up and intense, returns to protect her son (Edward Furlong) from a cyborg killer from the future. Arnie is, well, Arnie – making a virtue of his expressionless robotic character. Friday 5 August, 10.45pm, ITV