Pick of the week
An ambivalent attitude towards drinking and its central role in society suffuses this Oscar-winning Danish drama from Thomas Vinterberg. Mads Mikkelsen uses his hangdog features to fine effect as worn-down teacher Martin, unhappily married and bored of trying to inspire his students. When he and three colleagues start taking daily doses of alcohol as a psychological experiment, they enjoy a brief kick of creativity and joie de vivre. However, their incipient addictions increasingly complicate relationships at work and home. Vinterberg, the director of similarly forensic dissections of social norms in Festen and The Hunt, avoids easy answers as tragedy unfolds.
Sunday 12 December, 10.25am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
For those unable to catch Jessie Buckley on stage in London in Cabaret, this 2019 film is more than enough evidence of her singing talent. She plays Rose-Lynn, a would-be country singer released from prison and returning to her two young children in Glasgow. The strain between her desire to make it big in Nashville and her parental responsibilities is constant, and her mother (a nicely underplaying Julie Walters) is left to deal with the fallout. Buckley is exceptional here, in her element on stage but giving coherence to Rose-Lynn’s wilfully destructive streak off it.
Saturday 11 December, 9pm, Film4
Kill Bill: Volume 1
You could never accuse Quentin Tarantino of cinematic restraint, and his 2003 action film (split into two halves) is the apogee of his maximalist approach. Largely a homage to the Shaw Brothers’ martial arts films, but also chucking in blaxploitation movies, spaghetti westerns, the samurai genre and anime, it stars Uma Thurman as the yellow-jumpsuited Bride. Betrayed and left for dead by her fellow assassin squad members, she takes revenge in bloody fashion. Vivica A Fox and Lucy Liu are her targets in a stunning flurry of slicing and dicing.
Saturday 11 December, 9pm, TCM Movies
The Hand of God
The arrival of Maradona at Napoli in 1984 is the peg on which writer-director Paolo Sorrentino hangs his zesty, autobiographical coming-of-age tale. Filippo Scotti plays 17-year-old Fabietto who, amid the loves and betrayals, jokes and tragedies of his extended Naples family, tries to figure out his future. Influences include Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo as his flawed father, Ciro Capano’s challenging film-maker and his glamorous Aunt Patrizia (Luisa Ranieri), whose mental health problems add an unsettling note to a mostly sun-soaked dose of adolescent angst.
Wednesday 15 December, Netflix
The Gay Divorcee
The appearance of Astaire and Rogers films on our screens always presages the arrival of Christmas. Mark Sandrich’s 1934 musical, the duo’s second collaboration, has a few duds (Let’s K-nock K-nees was a dance that probably didn’t catch on) and gives Fred and Ginger a car chase. But it does show off their effortless grace in Cole Porter’s Night and Day and the set-piece number The Continental, as his dancer and her would-be divorcee miscommunicate their way to true love at the English seaside.
Wednesday 15 December, 2.15pm, BBC Two
Featuring the clean architectural lines, evergreen forests and moral complexity of an Alex Garland film, Benjamin Cleary’s poignant feature debut uses future tech to explore loss and the selflessness of love. Mahershala Ali is superb as Cameron, secretly terminally ill but expecting a second child with wife Poppy (a radiant Naomie Harris). He tentatively agrees to buy a “duplicate” – a clone that has all his memories and can replace him – unbeknown to his family. But as he and his double delve into his past experiences, Cameron’s doubts and deteriorating condition threaten that transition.
Friday 17 December, AppleTV+
One of the most influential films of this century, and certainly nearing classic status, Jordan Peele’s 2017 directorial debut expands on the pointed comedy of his TV sketch show Key & Peele to chilling effect. Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris pays a visit to the family home of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), to find that her parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) are not the racially liberal types they appear to be. An excellent commentary on, and riposte to, the invisibility and marginalisation of Black people in the horror genre – and cinema in general.
Friday 17 December, 11pm, E4