Pick of the week
A widow’s loss takes her in unexpected directions in this poignant British drama from Aleem Khan. After the sudden death of her husband Ahmed, a Dover-based ferry captain, Muslim convert Mary (Joanna Scanlan) discovers he had a French lover, Geneviève (Nathalie Richard), in Calais. She tracks down “the other woman” but their encounter doesn’t go as she anticipated, leaving Mary in a state of confusion that even her faith can’t help with. Featuring an expertly modulated performance by Scanlan, it’s an intensely moving film about the ways grief can take hold, and the barriers and transitions – national, cultural, familial – that face those left behind.
Sunday 23 October, 10.50pm, BBC Two
Queen of Katwe
Chess has long been used in fiction as a metaphor for life – The Queen’s Gambit being the most recent example – and in Mira Nair’s compelling fact-based drama it is set against the hard-scrabble reality of growing up in a slum in Kampala, Uganda. Ten-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) has a prodigious talent for the game and, under the guidance of teacher Robert (David Oyelowo), gets a glimpse of the opportunities success could bring. But is that a realistic prospect, when her mother (Lupita Nyong’o) is struggling to keep the family afloat?
Saturday 22 October, 10am, BBC Two
One Cut of the Dead
For its first half-hour, this is a behind-the-scenes film about the making of a low-budget zombie horror whose director introduces the actual undead on to the set. Then it flips into being a comedy relating how that film was created – what we had been watching was a live, one-take broadcast. It’s all wittily meta – and a logistical triumph for the (real) director Shin’ichirô Ueda – with those odd camera angles or unexplained slices of dialogue revealed to be the result of panicked improvisation due to drunk actors, technical errors or understudies going off-script.
Monday 24 October, 2.15am, Film4
The Good Nurse
Normally, butter wouldn’t melt in Eddie Redmayne’s mouth, but he puts our expectations to the test in this unsettling true-life crime drama. He plays Charlie, a helpful new ICU nurse at a New Jersey hospital alongside Amy (a convincingly shattered-looking Jessica Chastain). She has serious coronary issues and no insurance, so is wary of whistleblowing when patients start dying unexpectedly. Tobias Lindholm’s film highlights the culpability of the profit-hungry healthcare firms enabling Charlie, but it’s Redmayne’s enigmatic performance that really chills.
Wednesday 26 October, Netflix
Don’t Look Now
Nicolas Roeg’s stylish, unnerving 1973 adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier short story confirmed the former cinematographer as a master of twisted storytelling as well as of arresting images. It tells the tale of architect John (Donald Sutherland) and his wife Laura (Julie Christie) who, after the fatal drowning of their daughter, go to a wintry Venice for work. There, a psychic tells them she can see their child, which brings comfort to Laura but sets John on a fateful path. Brilliantly horrific.
Thursday 27 October, midnight, BBC Four
Wendell & Wild
Coraline creator Henry Selick’s penchant for the morbid side of life is given free rein in this highly entertaining animated fantasy, with the assistance of Jordan Peele as co-writer and voice actor. Lyric Ross plays Kat, rebellious 13-year-old orphan and, it transpires, “hell maiden” to the titular demons (Keegan-Michael Key and Peele, bringing all their comic double act skills into play). The duo are desperate to get to the land of the living, and Kat is to be their conduit. A refreshingly modern take on its fairytale set-up added to Selick’s eye for exquisite detail makes repeat viewing all but essential.
Out now, Netflix
All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war novel is something of a set text in Germany, so it’s surprising Edward Berger’s drama is the first native film version. And it doesn’t disappoint, following naive young recruit Paul (Felix Kammerer) into the dirt and viscera and terror of the first world war battlefield. Paul doesn’t get much of a backstory but, as with the lead character in Sam Mendes’s 1917, we are compelled to follow his nightmarish journey. There is a desolate beauty here – and a subplot about armistice negotiations gives context – but the moral message is deafening.
Friday 28 October, Netflix