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Top films to watch on TV this week

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Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing (Saturday, Channel 5, 8p.m.)

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing (Saturday, Channel 5, 8p.m.)

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (Wednesday, Film4, 9p.m.)

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (Wednesday, Film4, 9p.m.)

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Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing (Saturday, Channel 5, 8p.m.)

WEDNESDAY

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Film4, 9p.m.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a crowd-pleasing musical biopic, which covers the 15-year period between Queen’s formation and the group’s triumphant 20-minute set at Live Aid on July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium, where Freddie Mercury and co stole the show with a barnstorming medley.

It begins as guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) welcome Freddie (Rami Malek) as lead singer of their band Smile. Bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) enriches the group’s sound as they take on the Queen mantle, supported by a volatile inner circle. Away from the recording studio, Freddie wrestles with his sexuality.

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The script takes a few historical liberties, but Malek’s Oscar-winning turn paints the flamboyant lead singer as a beautiful, flawed creature.

THURSDAY

Judy (2019) BBC4, 9p.m.

Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) is embroiled in an acrimonious tug-of-war with third husband Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell) for custody of their children. Crippled by debt, Judy reluctantly agrees to a five-week run of shows at The Talk of the Town nightclub in London run by Bernard Delfont (Michael Gambon).

Delfont assigns despairing assistant Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley) the unenviable task of shepherding Garland to the stage each night. Unfortunately, flighty fiance Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) continually distracts Judy when she should be rehearsing.

Adapted from Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow, Judy is elevated beyond the pages of Tom Edge’s script by the luminous, Oscar-winning Zellweger.

FRIDAY

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) ITV, 10.45p.m.

Jonathan Demme’s terrifying 1991 treatment of the Thomas Harris novel is one of only three films to sweep the big five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress.

Jodie Foster plays FBI trainee Clarice Starling, who is eager to please her superior, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn). He implores Clarice to earn the trust of cannibal murderer Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in order to track down a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), who kidnaps women then skins his victims.

In a series of charged conversations, closely monitored by Baltimore State Hospital director Dr Chilton (Anthony Heald), Starling allows herself to understand the mind set of Buffalo Bill and anticipate where he might strike next.

SATURDAY

Dirty Dancing (1987) Channel 5, 8p.m.

Can it really be 35 years since Patrick Swayze’s hip-swivelling hero first uttered the immortal line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”? Time flies but the charm and simmering sensuality of Dirty Dancing endures.

Jennifer Grey plays the idealistic teenager Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, who goes to a summer camp with her well-heeled parents (Jerry Orbach, Kelly Bishop). When resident dance instructor Johnny Castle (Swayze) needs someone to fill in for his partner (Cynthia Rhodes, whose storyline proves that Dirty Dancing isn’t as fluffy as some people remember), Baby steps in and is soon receiving lessons in love as well as lifts.

The great, if often very 1980s-sounding for a film set in the 1960s, soundtrack includes the Oscar-winning (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

SUNDAY

Sully – Miracle on the Hudson (2016) BBC1, 10.30p.m.

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 takes off from LaGuardia airport in New York bound for North Carolina with 155 passengers and crew on board. Three minutes into take-off, a flock of Canadian geese impacts the aircraft, causing multiple strikes to both engines that necessitated an emergency landing.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) glides the stricken Airbus A320 onto the Hudson River in freezing conditions and oversees the evacuation of everyone on board aided by First Officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart). However, the subsequent investigation by the National Transportation casts doubt on Sully’s version of events.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Sully: Miracle on the Hudson is a masterclass in sustained tension, which replays the events of that fateful day from multiple perspectives.

MONDAY

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) **** Film4, 11.20p.m.

Based on the book by Lee Israel, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a comedy drama set in early 1990s New York City about one enterprising forger who dug herself out of a deep financial hole by inventing signed correspondence from the likes of Noel Coward, Dorothy Parker and Tennessee Williams.

Melissa McCarthy milks sympathy for her self-absorbed misanthrope, who boasts “I can’t get caught. Fools get caught,” thereby ensuring her downfall. Richard E Grant harks back to his glory days in Withnail and I to portray a foul-mouthed lush who lives from day to day on charm, and acts as a fence for the letters.

Director Marielle Heller’s picture dramatises the criminal enterprise with warmth and wit, and the script provides the Oscar-nominated leads with a feast of glittering one-liners.

TUESDAY

The Greatest Showman (2017) Film4, 7p.m.

A massive sleeper hit, this musical stars Hugh Jackman as the legendary PT Barnum, a tailor’s son who falls under the spell of the privileged Charity Hallett (Michelle Williams). They live modestly until PT blags a $10,000 bank loan for a museum of living curiosities.

The exhibits include bearded-lady Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), dwarf Charles Stratton (Sam Humphrey) and high-flying trapeze siblings WD and Anne Wheeler (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Zendaya). Sardonic newspaper critic James Gordon Bennett (Paul Sparks) denounces the enterprise as “a primitive circus of humbug”, but the public disagrees, as does investor Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron).

The Greatest Showman is a joy-infused blast of pure pleasure that calibrates every swoon of romance and doff of a top hat with masterful precision.


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