Pick of the week
The wildly talented director Chris Smith (whose work includes the bananas Fyre festival film and the still-weird documentary about the time Jim Carrey came to believe he was literally Andy Kaufman) turns his hand to one of the greatest, and most under-appreciated, British pop groups of the 1980s. History has slowly eroded Wham! to a punchline – The hair! The naffness! The apparently superfluous nature of Andrew Ridgeley! But, through archive footage and voiceover, Smith attempts to reframe the popularity of the group as “two idiots” (in the words of Michael) having the time of their lives. For anyone in the mood for a larky, summery nostalgia blast, Wham! will be hard to beat.
Wednesday 5 July, Netflix
A decade on, and Paul Feig’s first post-Bridesmaids movie might be his best. In The Heat, Feig promoted Melissa McCarthy to play the co-lead as a foul-mouthed Boston detective tasked with teaming up with Sandra Bullock’s buttoned-down federal investigator. As premises go, it’s a hokey throwback to the buddy-cop movies of the 80s, but the plot plays second fiddle to the leads. Bullock and McCarthy have a habit of either living or dying depending on the chemistry they have with their co-stars, and here they find their ideal partners. Just a joy from start to finish.
Sunday 2 July, 10pm, BBC Three
When Arkansas was released three years ago, reviews wrote it off as the sort of weird Tarantino rip-off that cluttered up multiplexes in the late 90s. But there’s a little more to Clark Duke’s directorial debut than that. A low-key neo-noir that never seems to be in very much of a hurry, Arkansas is a charming shaggy dog story about a couple of aimless young crooks and, among other things, a bag full of human bones. The film is also aided by a fantastic cast – including John Malkovich, Michael K Williams and Vince Vaughn – and some truly spectacular knitwear.
Sunday, midnight, Channel 4
Any film that dramatises Lance Armstrong’s steroidal fall from grace will always suffer in comparison with the palpable hurt of Alex Gibney’s documentary, The Armstrong Lie. That said, Stephen Frears does a great job with The Program. Ben Foster’s Armstrong is a desperate character, determined to cling on to his form, his reputation and his version of the truth until it tears him apart. Most damningly, his Armstrong doesn’t work alone. He has a whole machine installed to enable his cheating. You cannot watch it without asking how he got away with it for so long.
Tuesday 4 July, 11:15pm, BBC Two
Anyone missing the fire and spit of Logan Roy will find just a little of that in this, the first Brian Cox project released since the end of Succession. Once again, Cox finds himself playing a very bad father – of Kate Beckinsale, no less – who vows to treat his release from jail as an opportunity to put things right for good. Directed by Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke, Prisoner’s Daughter lacks the acid whack of Cox in full pomp, but the two leads elevate the material far more than a pair of lesser actors.
Tuesday 4 July, Prime Video
The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen
Or to put it more accurately, The Version You Almost Definitely Have Seen If You’ve Seen The Exorcist In The Last Two Decades. Still, this version of the film – 20 minutes longer than the theatrically released version – manages to thread the faintest hint of humanity back into proceedings. The handful of extra scenes, including a new ending that lingers on Father Dyer far more than the original, were suggested by William Peter Blatty, who had wished for a little more hope than director William Friedkin was willing to give at the time. Is it more successful as a result? Watch it and find out.
Thursday 6 July, 9pm, TCM
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had such high hopes for Black Adam, positioning his glowering superhero as a potential rival to Superman. That didn’t end up being the case, of course – both Black Adam and Johnson were junked as soon as James Gunn took over DC – which leaves this film as a strange little curio. Johnson plays the lead right on the edge of parody. There’s a character named Atom Smasher. And Pierce Brosnan, done up like Colonel Sanders, holds something called The Helmet of Fate. Honestly, it’s fun.
Friday 7 July, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere