Pick of the week
Many of the best horror films take a simple premise and run with it. Such is the way with Parker Finn’s terrific chiller, which invents a curse that makes the victim see visions of people grinning evilly. Days later they kill themselves and pass on the jinx to whoever witnesses their death. Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin) plays a psychiatrist unlucky enough to meet a patient so inflicted, who then spends the rest of the film dodging her fate while trying not to get sectioned. Bacon is utterly convincing as an increasingly nervous wreck, never sure that a smiling face isn’t going to pop up in front of her, while the jump-scares are neatly judged and the gore infrequent but impactful.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
Hugh Grant is settling nicely into his second career as a movie villain, and he is the best thing in Guy Ritchie’s new spy thriller. Jason Statham stars as mercenary Orson Fortune, hired by the UK government to track down a stolen mystery device. His team includes Aubrey Plaza’s bracingly snarky intel expert Sarah and Josh Hartnett’s Hollywood film star Danny – who, in shades of Team America: World Police, has to act his way into the good graces of arms dealer Greg, played winningly by Grant as kind of a sleazy second cousin to Michael Caine.
Out now, Prime Video
A privileged white man in a strange land faces his demons in John Michael McDonagh’s dark moral tale, which avoids using its Moroccan setting as a mere backdrop by including well-rounded indigenous characters. Ralph Fiennes’s British doctor David and his wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) are driving across the desert to a swanky party when they run over and kill a local boy. As David is forced by the father (Ismael Kanater) to confront the consequences of his actions, Fiennes brilliantly conveys his journey towards penitence.
Saturday, 10pm, 1.55am, Sky Cinema Premiere
Writer-director Craig Roberts’s bold attempt to get inside the head of a schizophrenic person is helped immensely by his lead actor. Sally Hawkins is mesmeric as Jane, for whom the voice on the phone and the noises next door are as real as her interactions with her family. Her sisters are either concerned (Alice Lowe’s Alice) or dismissive and exploitative (Billie Piper’s Nicola), while Jane finds some sort of joy with David Thewlis’s oddball musician Mike. The film’s kitchen-sink surrealism is tempered by plunges into darkness as Jane’s mental stability ebbs and flows.
Sunday, 10pm, BBC Two
“It’s a little secret, just the Robinsons’ affair.” The music of Simon & Garfunkel adds a flourish to Mike Nichols’s often quite downbeat 1967 comedy-drama. Dustin Hoffman’s Ben, disaffected and unfocused after college, begins an adulterous fling with Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father’s colleague, but then falls for her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). Tapping into middle-class hypocrisy and the disaffections of 60s youth, it’s a time capsule – but a fun one.
Monday, 10.35pm, BBC Two
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
The stresses of adopting one culture’s values while living in another is the recurring theme of Jim Jarmusch’s laid-back crime drama. Forest Whitaker plays Ghost Dog, the solitary, pigeon-fancying hitman for John Tormey’s mafia functionary Louie. He follows a samurai code of honour, while Louie has his own criminal rules to follow – which ultimately leads to conflict. Whitaker gives Ghost Dog a meditative presence amid the violence, while his only friend, French-speaking ice-cream seller Raymond (Isaach De Bankolé), plays the role of chorus, despite the language barrier between them.
Wednesday, 1am, AMC
After the Oscar-winning adaptation of his play The Father, Florian Zeller takes on the final work in his stage trilogy, a similarly fraught exploration of the pains of the parent-child relationship. Hugh Jackman’s Peter has a new wife, Beth (Vanessa Kirby), and a new baby. But it’s his teenage son Nicholas (Zen McGrath), from his first marriage to Laura Dern’s Kate, who is the concern, having dropped out of school with mental health problems. As a film it lacks the visual interest of The Father, but the problems of its characters are just as intractable and tragic.
Friday, Prime Video