The Tragedy of Macbeth to Eternals: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

·4-min read

Pick of the week

The Tragedy of Macbeth

For his first film without collaborator/brother Ethan, Joel Coen has delivered a confident, stylish take on Shakespeare’s murderous Scottish play. Denzel Washington is a magnificently brooding Macbeth, while Frances McDormand embraces the dark side as his lady – a role she was born to play. Their regicidal plot is worked out across austere locations in crisp black-and-white imagery reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. In an inventive touch, Kathryn Hunter plays all three “weird sisters” while eloquent support comes from Bertie Carvel as the doomed Banquo and Alex Hassell as an intriguingly shifty Ross.
Friday 14 January, Apple TV+


After the Storm

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 2016 drama is another of the great Japanese film-maker’s understated, comic tales of fractured families and the ways they find to muddle through life. Hiroshi Abe plays Ryôta, a divorced, one-time novelist now gambling away his earnings as a private detective and neglecting his young son. His encounters with his no-nonsense widowed mother Yoshiko (Kore-eda regular Kirin Kiki) and long-suffering ex-wife Kyōko (Yōko Maki) nudge him slowly towards sorting his life out, though not exactly in the way he was hoping for.
Sunday 9 January, 12.10am, BBC Two


The Sisters Brothers

John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix in The Sisters Brothers.
John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix in The Sisters Brothers. Photograph: APL Archive/Alamy

Jacques Audiard, the French director of Rust and Bone, is not the first person you would expect to do a western. But this 2018 film is a fine piece of work, nodding respectfully to the genre staples of gunplay and glorious vistas while sneaking in moments of existential reflection. John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix play Eli and Charlie, the chalk-and-cheese assassin siblings of the title, sent to follow Jake Gyllenhaal’s scout John Morris to California and then kill a chemist, Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed), who has developed a potentially lucrative method for extracting gold from rivers.
Sunday 9 January, 10pm, BBC Two



Richard Madden and Gemma Chan in Eternals.
Richard Madden and Gemma Chan in Eternals. Photograph: Moviestore Collection Ltd/Alamy

Here, Marvel stirs a whole new set of myths into its melting pot of fantastical adventures. The Eternals – including Gemma Chan’s Sersi, Richard Madden’s Ikaris and Angelina Jolie’s Thena – are superpowered aliens who have protected humanity down the millennia from destructive beasts called Deviants. In the present day, the group assemble again to fight a resurgence of the creatures, while discovering the true reason behind their mission. It’s portentous stuff but has good action, a dab of wit (courtesy of Kumail Nanjiani) and a lovely gold filigree look to it.
Wednesday 12 January, Disney+


Magnificent Obsession

Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson in Magnificent Obsession.
Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson in Magnificent Obsession. Photograph: AA Film Archive/Alamy

The film that confirmed Douglas Sirk as the master of Technicolor melodrama and made Rock Hudson a star. He plays egotistical millionaire playboy Bob, who inadvertently contributes to the death of the doctor husband of Jane Wyman’s Helen. Their improbable connection leads to tragedy, redemption and love among the comfortable upper middle classes, in a movie imbued with a philosophy of selflessness and charity as a spiritual act.
Thursday 13 January, 6.45pm, Great! Movies Classic


Save the Cinema

A true story ripe for dramatic treatment, Sara Sugarman’s guileless drama follows the fight to save the Lyric in Carmarthen in the early 1990s. Hairdresser and youth opera director Liz Evans (a warm performance by Samantha Morton) rouses the opposition, including Jonathan Pryce’s retired teacher Mr Morgan, when the council plans to replace the cinema with a shopping centre. There’s light villainy, in the shape of venal mayor Tom (Adeel Akhtar), a dash of Hollywood glamour and a gently reiterated message about the importance of community and local heritage. SW
Friday 14 January, 10.55am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere


Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Photograph: Alamy

Who needs a straight man when you have talents such as Steve Martin and John Candy riffing off each other? In John Hughes’s superb 1987 comedy, the two are thrown together on a frantic, weather-impeded trip from New York to Chicago as they race to get home in time for Thanksgiving. Martin’s advertising executive Neal (superior, quick to anger) and Candy’s travelling salesman Del (genial, accident-prone) are the perfect odd couple in a film that bears comparisons with Midnight Run for its smartly plotted twists and characterful humour. SW
Friday 14 January, 9pm, Comedy Central

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