The Green Knight to The Guilty: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Dev Patel is on an Arthurian quest and Jake Gyllenhaal is in a sweaty cop thriller. Plus Judas and the Black Messiah and Ammonite. Here’s what to stream and watch on British screens

Pick of the week

Judas and the Black Messiah

Daniel Kaluuya, centre, in Judas and the Black Messiah.
Tensions … Daniel Kaluuya, centre, in Judas and the Black Messiah. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

Friday 1 October, 10.55am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
Daniel Kaluuya picked up an Oscar earlier this year for his poignant portrayal of Fred Hampton, the charismatic Black Panther leader shot dead during an FBI raid, in Shaka King’s roiling historical drama. It’s set in 1969, when racial tensions led to activists departing from Martin Luther King’s policy of non-violence. However, the focus is equally on William O’Neal, the unprincipled career criminal turned FBI man on the inside, who vacillates between covering his own back and doing the right thing for the cause. Lakeith Stanfield – who is becoming a reliable indicator of a drama’s quality – is at his slippery best as O’Neal, while Martin Sheen latexes up as J Edgar Hoover.

The Green Knight

Dev Patel on his quest.
Honour and glory … Dev Patel on his quest. Photograph: PR

Out now, Amazon Prime Video
David Lowery’s compelling version of the Arthurian quest myth takes what could have been a generic fantasy adventure and nudges it towards the dislocating, melancholy feel of his 2017 film A Ghost Story. Dev Patel brings his everyman qualities to Gawain, King Arthur’s callow nephew, who seeks honour and glory by taking up a deadly challenge posed by the titular mysterious, wood-skinned figure. It’s a hallucinatory, impressionistic experience that asks questions about the nature of goodness and greatness, with a brooding score by Daniel Hart.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

War manoeuvres … Roger Livesey and Deborah Kerr.
War manoeuvres … Roger Livesey and Deborah Kerr. Photograph: Shutterstock

Saturday 25 September, 9.10am, BBC Two
It is remarkable that Powell and Pressburger’s satirical drama was made when the war was in full spate in 1943, such is the film’s emotional range and lack of propaganda. Roger Livesey plays Clive Wynne-Candy, a stuffy Home Guard commander. However, flashbacks reveal a more three-dimensional past, starting during the Boer war when he begins a friendship with Anton Walbrook’s aristocratic German. The luminous Deborah Kerr appears as the object of Clive’s affections as war shifts from an activity for gentlemen to a theatre of horrors.

True Grit

A brutal revenge tale with real chutzpah ... True Grit.
A brutal revenge tale with real chutzpah ... True Grit. Photograph: Lorey Sebastian/Allstar/Paramount

Wednesday 29 September, 11.25pm, ITV4
It takes a certain level of chutzpah to remake a John Wayne western. But the Coen brothers (who have form, having also had a stab at Alexander Mackendrick’s peerless The Ladykillers) clearly saw possibilities, not least in getting a better actor – Jeff Bridges – to play its central character, ornery old US marshal Rooster Cogburn. Adapted from Charles Portis’s source novel, the grit-coated 2010 film features Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, a girl in late 19th-century Arkansas who hires the drunken lawman to track down her father’s murderer, in an often brutal revenge tale.

Monos

Monos.
On the brink … Monos. Photograph: Lifestyle pictures/Alamy Stock Photo

Thursday 30 September, 11.25pm, Film4
This remarkable drama from Colombian-Ecuadorian director Alejandro Landes combines fable-like qualities with a Lord of the Flies feeling of society teetering on the brink. A group of teenage guerrillas, stuck up high on a mountain in a rainforest, are keeping an American (Julianne Nicholson) hostage. However, youthful impulses get in the way, with lust, ambition, jealousy and – surreally – a dairy cow threatening their unit’s existence. Mica Levi’s intense score magnifies the hothouse atmosphere.

Ammonite

Fossil hunters … Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.
Fossil hunters … Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Photograph: See-saw Films/BBC Films/Allstar

Friday 1 October, Amazon Prime Video
Francis Lee followed God’s Own Country this year with another finely wrought tale of unconventional love, this time with the weight of a different era on the choices of the protagonists. Kate Winslet is exceptional as the taciturn Mary Anning, a talented, real-life 19th-century palaeontologist patronised by the male scientific establishment. Saoirse Ronan plays young wife Charlotte, whose rest cure in Lyme Regis brings her into Mary’s orbit and draws out the older woman’s buried feelings. Their tentative romance is played out amid the unforgiving Dorset landscape.

The Guilty

Panic stations … Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty.
Panic stations … Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty. Photograph: Netflix/AP

Friday 1 October, Netflix
Despite not straying too far from its source material – a 2018 Danish film of the same name – Antoine Fuqua’s remake is a fine thriller in its own right, centred on a feverish performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. His 911 call centre dispatcher Joe – an LA cop with a court date hanging over him – is a man on the edge. And that’s before he is called by a panicked mother who says she’s been abducted by her estranged husband. The camera remains in sweaty closeup, but it’s the sounds that keep the tension high, as Joe takes the law into his own hands with only a phone to help him.

Contributor

Simon Wardell

The GuardianTramp

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