Spencer to County Lines: The seven best movies to watch on TV this week | Culture

selection of the week


Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in Spencer. Photo: Landmark Media / Alamy

Pablo Larraín treads similar terrain to his 2016 film about Jackie Kennedy in this intimate drama that focuses on Princess Diana, another iconic character beset by tragedy. Diana is played by Kristen in a playful and unnerving way Stewart embodies and is a woman on the brink. Committed to attending a royal family Christmas party at Sandringham in 1991, she rebels against her sterile marriage and stifling public persona. Desperation soon leads to physical and mental breakdown. In a way, Diana was poorly cast as a princess, and Larraín lets us empathize with her stage fright – she can’t remember her lines, the costumes don’t match, and her audience is brutally unforgiving.
Friday March 25 Amazon Prime Video


Ah-in Yoo in Burning.
Ah-in Yoo in Burning. Photo: Pine House Film / Allstar

Korean director Lee Chang-dong’s fine drama, adapted from a story by Haruki Murakami, has a stealthy flavor. Yoo Ah-in stars as the slightly dimwitted wannabe writer Jong-su, who befriends an old schoolmate, Jeon Jong-seo’s restless Hae-mi. However, his place in their affections is soon usurped by Steven Yeun’s Ben – rich, confident, startlingly enigmatic. The film drifts almost imperceptibly from youthful romance to somber mystery, is deliciously unsettling and, like Yeun’s central achievement, doesn’t seem to be trying too hard.
Saturday March 19, 10pm, BBC Four


Sofia Boutella as Selva in Climax.
Sofia Boutella as Selva in Climax. Photo: Wild Bunch

A group of dancers celebrate the last night of rehearsals for their new show in a school building somewhere in France. Fatefully someone has added LSD to the party punch and since this is a Gaspar Noah film all hell breaks loose. The collapse of community and social order in an already sexually feverish atmosphere is set in epically long shots, the camera spinning and reeling after the improvising actors as they succumb to hallucinations, paranoia, violence and desire. It’s a blunt approach, but insanely effective.
Saturday, March 19, 1:50 p.m., Film4

Our ladies

Rona Morison, Tallulah Greive and Sally Messham in Our Ladies.
Rona Morison, Tallulah Greive and Sally Messham in Our Ladies. Photo: Landmark Media / Alamy

This rollicking screen treatment of Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos follows five Catholic girls from Fort William on a school choir day trip to Edinburgh in 1996. There’s no such thing as rampant hormone mobage in the big city. Singing comes a long way behind illegal drinking and trying to have sex for a tight-knit group, each with their own dreams and hopes (or lack of hopes). A candid, witty drama from Michael Caton-Jones, punctuated with coming-of-age adulthood and the pain of passing time.
Sunday, March 20, 8:40 a.m., 10:30 p.m., Sky Cinema Premiere


Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious.
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious. Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1946 thriller pairs Ingrid Bergman with Cary Grant to dazzling effect. She is the daughter of a war traitor; He’s the agent who sends her undercover to Brazil to infiltrate the circle of neo-Nazi Claude Rains. She embraces her Mata Hari role while feeling humiliated by it – the film purposefully exposes the gaslighting hypocrisy of her male handlers. However, Grant’s spy has fallen in love with her and is torn between love and duty as she becomes increasingly compromised.
Sunday, March 20, 7 p.m., Talking Pictures TV

The elephant man

Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt in The Elephant Man.
Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt in The Elephant Man. Photo: Brooksfilm/studiocanal/Allstar

This is a real heartbreaker. David Lynch reined in his surrealist tendencies for this black-and-white 1980s drama about John Merrick, a real-life Victorian with severe deformities that brought him fame and notoriety. Anthony Hopkins is solid as Frederick Treves, the surgeon who saves Merrick from a miserable life as a circus attraction, but it’s John Hurt’s performance in the title role that makes the film shine. Beneath layers of makeup, he gives Merrick a delicacy and pathos that give the story an emotional resonance that transcends its “freak show” tragedy.
Monday 21 March 00:15 BBC Two

county lines

Conrad Khan in County Lines.
Conrad Khan in County Lines. Photo: Courtesy BFI undefined

A tough British drama that delves deeper into the headline-grabbing stories of city kids who are sent to rural areas to deal in drugs. Conrad Khan excels as the reclusive, inarticulate 14-year-old Tyler who is lured into crime when his single mother, Toni (the equally convincing Ashley Madekwe), loses her job. His descent into a life even more unsettling than the one he is fleeing is given a social realist treatment by director Henry Blake, emphasizing how easily young people like Tyler – who have few opportunities and lack of support – can be nurtured.
Friday March 25, 10pm, BBC Three

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