Cassandro to Funny Face: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Gael García Bernal is gloriously risk-taking in an ode to Mexico’s lucha libre scene, and Audrey Hepburn is sublime in the 50s couture classic


This fascinating wrestling biopic gets much of its oomph from the risk-taking of its lead, Gael García Bernal. He plays Saúl Armendáriz, a fighter in Mexico’s lucha libre world who decides to perform in the guise of Cassandro, an “exótico” – a type of male wrestler who dresses in drag and always loses. Saúl battles to be the first to win his fights, bumping up against homophobia and tradition in the process. Director Roger Ross Williams glories in the innate spectacle of the choreographed bouts, while Bernal brings out the tension between the freedom Saúl feels in the ring and the melancholy of his everyday life of secrecy and repression.
Friday 22 September, Prime Video


A Million Miles Away

Michael Peña as José Hernández in A Million Miles Away.
Heartwarming … Michael Peña as José Hernández in A Million Miles Away. Photograph: Daniel Daza/Prime Video

José Hernández is the son of Mexican migrant farm workers in California who became a Nasa astronaut in 2009. His inspiring against-the-odds life has been made into a film as even-keeled as its hero – patient and methodical but with a steely spine. There are sacrifices and setbacks en route for the smart but unprepossessing José (Michael Peña), his parents and his wife Adela (Rosa Salazar), as he applies unsuccessfully 11 times to join the astronaut training programme, while learning how to fly, dive and speak Russian. Heartwarming stuff.
Out now, Prime Video


Funny Face

Audrey Hepburn as Jo Stockton in Funny Face.
Stop stairing … Audrey Hepburn as Jo Stockton in Funny Face. Photograph: Paramount/Allstar

Stanley Donen’s 1957 musical has lovely tunes (by the Gershwins), fantastic dancing (Fred Astaire and a revelatory Audrey Hepburn) and a picture-postcard view of Paris – but it has attained iconic status due to its clothes. As a bookshop assistant turned reluctant model, Hepburn sports a range of stunning Givenchy outfits that lend the film a high-quality veneer its throwaway May-to-December romantic plot can’t wipe off. And with fashion photographer Richard Avedon as visual consultant – and inspiration for Astaire’s magazine snapper – the film’s entire look is classy.
Saturday 16 September, 1pm, BBC Two


Fanny and Alexander

Bertil Guve as Alexander Ekdahl in Fanny and Alexander.
Centre stage … Bertil Guve as Alexander Ekdahl in Fanny and Alexander. Photograph: 1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right/PR Company Handout

There’s a double bill of Swedish genius on today. Ingmar Bergman’s fraught Cries and Whispers is preceded by this magical and moving semi-autobiographical 1982 drama. The titular children (Bertil Guve and Pernilla Allwin) are at the centre of a colourful theatrical family in the early 1900s. But the fairytale enchantment of their lives is brutally curtailed when their father dies and their mother (Ewa Fröling) marries Jan Malmsjö’s very child-unfriendly Protestant bishop. A profound mix of mystical wonder and miserable reality.
Saturday 16 September, 10.30am, Sky Cinema Greats


Cyrano de Bergerac

Que Gérard, Gérard … Cyrano de Bergerac.
Que Gérard, Gérard … Cyrano de Bergerac. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

Having Gérard Depardieu as the flamboyant, big-nosed swordsman-poet in this adaptation of Rostand’s classic French play is basically typecasting. But, of course, he pulls it off marvellously. He tosses off the rhyming couplets (subtitled in English by none other than Anthony Burgess) with verve and makes his character – secretly in love with Anne Brochet’s Roxane but helping the pretty but dim Christian (Vincent Perez) woo her – a figure both of fun and pathos.
Sunday 17 September, 10.15am, Sky Cinema Greats


The Farewell

Awkwafina as Billi in The Farewell.
Gran gesture … Awkwafina as Billi in The Farewell. Photograph: Alamy

“Based on an actual lie”, Lulu Wang’s exceptional drama tells the true story of her Chinese grandma. Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) has stage 4 lung cancer but the rest of the family decide to keep the terminal news from her (which is perfectly legally in China). Awkwafina plays her New York-based grandchild Billi, who reluctantly plays along with the deception at a cousin’s hastily arranged wedding – a pretext to gather the diaspora to see Nai Nai for the final time. Amid much eating, drinking and stifled tears, a China-expat culture clash plays out, stress-testing deeply held ideas of family, death and marriage.
Wednesday 20 September, 9pm, Film4


Kind Hearts and Coronets

Aristocratic … Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets.
Aristocratic … Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets. Photograph: Ealing Studios/Studiocanal/Allstar

In the middle of a seven-year run of classic comedies from 1948 to 1955, Ealing Studios gave us arguably its finest work. Robert Hamer’s black comedy exploits the chameleon-like skills of Alec Guinness (playing eight members of the aristocratic D’Ascoyne family) in a tale of tradition, ambition and hubris. Dennis Price is Louis Mazzini, the impoverished, embittered black sheep of the clan who plots to kill all the relatives ahead of him in line of succession to the dukedom. The inventive ways he offs them and the twists in the tale make this a delight from start to finish.
Friday 22 September, 3pm, Talking Pictures TV


Simon Wardell

The GuardianTramp

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