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Paul Whitington's pick of the week: Mandalorian

Disney+

Star Wars meets Sergio Leone

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Deep-space bounty hunter: Mandalorian

Deep-space bounty hunter: Mandalorian

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Joe Exotic in Tiger King

Joe Exotic in Tiger King

Courtesy of NETFLIX

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Deep-space bounty hunter: Mandalorian

Jon Favreau's lively Star Wars spin-off got mixed reviews when it landed in the US in November as part of the formidable Disney+ armoury. That, though, may have more to do with how precious and endlessly nit-picky Star Wars fans can be, because for me it has plenty of wit, visual punch, and is a lot of fun.

It's set in the far reaches of the known galaxy just after the original film trilogy, and stars Pedro Pascal (Narcos) as the Mandalorian, a deep-space bounty hunter who's part of a warrior caste.

That is we assume that Pascal stars, because he wears an iron mask and we never get to see his face. He sure means business though, because in the opening episode he slaughters an entire saloon full of lowlifes in order to reach his latest commission. Bigger fish await, however, when he goes to meet The Client (played with calm menace by Werner Herzog), a shady operator who is surrounded by black-and-white stormtroopers that remind one unsettlingly of Nazis. The Client has a job for 'Mandy': tracking down an unnamed 50-year-old target who'll be worth a lot of money.

With a moody nod, Mandy assents, but will face many obstacles on his way to his target - and a big surprise when he does. This 50-year-old mark turns out to be a baby from the same species as Yoda (they take a long time to mature, apparently) who hovers above the ground in a floating crib and already boasts considerable powers. Meanwhile, our view of the Mandalorian will constantly shift: he seems to be a ruthless gun-for-hire, but might he have other motives?

Pascal might not get to show his face, but brings grace and swagger to his portrayal of the enigmatic and chillingly decisive mercenary. When he speaks, which is not too often, he snarls quietly like Clint Eastwood, and is immensely quotable. "I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold," he tells a captive at one point. That'll be warm, please.

The Mandalorian makes many affectionate nods to the films of Sergio Leone, and is very watchable.

 

Movie picks

 

Thriller

Patriots Day

Tonight, RTÉ 2, 9.30pm

Man hunt

Gritty fact-based thriller starring Mark Wahlberg as a Boston police sergeant who gets drawn into the hunt for the marathon bombers.

 

Drama

Vita & Virginia

Sunday, Sky Premiere, 6pm

Artist & muse

In 1925, Virginia Woolf and

Vita Sackville-West began a

passionate affair that would inspire Woolf’s great fantasy novel, Orlando.

 

Thriller

Double Indemnity

Tuesday, TCM, 6.40pm

Femme fatale

In Billy Wilder’s noir classic, Fred MacMurray plays an insurance agent whose passion for a client’s wife will be his undoing.

 

TV picks

 

Documentary

The Countess and the Russian Millionaire

Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm

Fallen oligarch

The colourful life of Sergei Pugachev, the oligarch who fell foul of Putin.

 

Lifestyle

High Road Low Road

Thursday, RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Turkish delights

While Jason Carter gets the five-star treatment in Istanbul, Maia Dunphy must find other ways of exploring the Turkish capital on a budget.

 

Spiritual

Solemn Liturgy for Good Friday 

Friday, RTÉ One, 3pm

The Passion

Father Derek Darby commemorates the Passion and death of Christ live from the Cathedral of Christ the King.

 

Streaming picks

Westworld

Now TV

Based on a 1973 sci-fi film starring Yul Brynner as a robot who goes out of control at a futuristic theme park peopled by androids, this TV remake has expanded on writer Michael Crichton's themes using all the latest CGI. Season three is showing on Sky and streaming on Now TV, and Dolores and other androids are finding the going tough out in the real world. With Rachel Evan Wood, Thandie Newton.

Tiger King

Netflix

This intriguing documentary series is set in the strange world of exotic pets, a disturbing American sub-community that thinks it's okay to own snakes, alligators, lions and tigers and use them for high-risk petting zoos. Some of these people are harmless eccentrics, but one, the swaggering big cat 'expert' Joe Exotic (below), would later be accused of attempting to murder one of his rivals.

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Joe Exotic in Tiger King

Joe Exotic in Tiger King

Courtesy of NETFLIX

Joe Exotic in Tiger King

 

Ozark

Netflix

Marty Byrde has come a long way since he discovered he was in hock to a Mexican drug cartel and was sent to rural Missouri to set up a complex money-laundering operation. A few unfortunate deaths amid rows with local crime families aside, things have gone well, and as season three begins Marty and his wife Wendy are planning an ambitious expansion.

Togo

Disney+

This Disney adventure film has strong contemporary resonances, and is based on the true story of Norwegian-American musher Leonhard Seppala and his dog Togo, who raced 700 miles through fierce Alaskan blizzards to deliver vital drugs to a remote town in the grips of a lethal diphtheria epidemic. With Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson.

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