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Top films to watch on TV this week


Choi Woo-shik, Song Kang-ho, Chang Hyae-jin and Park So-dam in the genre-bending satire Parasite (Monday, Film4, 11.15p.m.)

Choi Woo-shik, Song Kang-ho, Chang Hyae-jin and Park So-dam in the genre-bending satire Parasite (Monday, Film4, 11.15p.m.)

Will Smith as Muhammad Ali in Ali (Thursday, BBC4, 9p.m.)

Will Smith as Muhammad Ali in Ali (Thursday, BBC4, 9p.m.)


Choi Woo-shik, Song Kang-ho, Chang Hyae-jin and Park So-dam in the genre-bending satire Parasite (Monday, Film4, 11.15p.m.)


The Great Debaters (2007) Film4, 9p.m.

Based on a true story, this drama follows Melvin B Tolson (Denzel Washington), a professor at the all-Black Wiley College in the racially segregated Deep South of the 1930s. He organises a group of his students into a successful debating team who score a historic run of victories, leading to a contest against Harvard University’s championship side.

However, the team face prejudice along the way, and Tolson doesn’t confine all the arguing to the university, as he also wages a campaign to improve the lot of local agricultural labourers.

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Essentially, it’s a sporting underdog movie, but with debating instead of American football or basketball. While it may not be that original, it is a fascinating story, and Denzel Washington, who also directs, shows he’s equally comfortable on both sides of the camera.


Ali (2001) BBC4, 9p.m.

Will Smith picked up an Oscar for his performance as the father of Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard (although his win was overshadowed by him lashing out at comedian Chris Rock during his ceremony), but some of his fans think he should have already had a statuette in his trophy cabinet for this earlier sporting biopic.

Directed by Michael Mann, it follows 10 years in the life of iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, from his 1964 bout fight with Sonny Liston (when he was still known as Cassius Clay) to his 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ against George Foreman.

Along the way, it takes in his conversion to Islam, friendship with Malcolm X and refusal to fight in the Vietnam War. There’s strong support from Jon Voight as Howard Cosell, but this is undoubtedly Smith’s film.


Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016) Channel 5, 10p.m.

Bridget (Renee Zellweger) careens at high speed towards her 43rd birthday without a wedding ring on her finger. Then a late-night blunder into the wrong yurt at a festival leads to a spontaneous coupling with a handsome American love guru called Jack Quant (Patrick Dempsey).

A few days later, Bridget is powerless to resist the silky charms of old flame Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who is separating from his wife. A pregnancy test at work confirms Bridget is about to become a mum – if only she knew who the father was…

Bridget Jones’s Baby throws a warm, affectionate and frequently hilarious baby shower for characters we’ve grown to love, and proves Bridget is no closer to achieving her Happy Ever After. Zellweger slips back into the title role with ease, oozing lovability, fragility and regret.


Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) Channel 4, 8.40p.m.

The sci-fi sequel finds aspiring warrior Rey (Daisy Ridley) attempting to convince Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to rejoin the fight – but she also seems to be forging a psychic link with the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Meanwhile, with the Resistance running out of options, time and resources, Finn (John Boyega) sets out on a desperate mission with grieving mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and droid BB-8.

After the crowd-pleasing The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson’s film proved hugely divisive among Star Wars fans, but there is much to enjoy here, including a terrific performance from Driver, who also gets a great fight scene.


Chicken Run (2000) BBC1, 2.35p.m.

Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha) is a fearless fowl who is planning a daring escape from the clutches of evil farm owner, Mrs Tweedy (Miranda Richardson).

Help arrives in the feathered form of a cocky American rooster called Rocky (Mel Gibson), who claims to be able to fly. Unfortunately, time is at a premium, and Rocky isn’t quite what he appears, so poor Ginger has to concoct an elaborate back-up scheme to save them all from the chop.

Chicken Run is a technical masterclass from Aardman Animations, playing out the plot of The Great Escape with a cast of Yorkshire fowl. Vocal performances are superb. Sawalha steals the show as the strident heroine who lays her own life on the line to rescue the flock, while Gibson’s boisterous wise-cracking matches the energy of Nick Park and Peter Lord’s direction.


Parasite (2019) Film4, 11.15p.m.

Wily patriarch Kim Ki-tek (Song Kang-ho) presides over a family of con artists, including wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin), son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) and daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam). They live in a squalid basement apartment in a poor neighbourhood of Seoul, but good fortune smiles on Ki-woo when a friend recommends him as an English tutor for teenager Park Da-hae (Jeong Ji-so).

Once he has earned her wealthy mother Yon-kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) and father Dong-ik’s (Lee Sun-kyun) trust, Ki-woo recommends other members of his clan for positions of responsibility. However, housekeeper Mun-kwang (Lee Jung-eun) is suspicious.

Parasite is a wickedly entertaining, genre-bending satire, which deservedly became the first film not in the English language to claim the Best Picture statuette at the Oscars.


The Lost City of Z (2016) BBC2, 12.15a.m.

British artillery officer Colonel Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is offered a mission mapping uncharted territory in Bolivia with the help of local tribesmen. Percy accepts and abandons his wife Nina (Sienna Miller) to venture into the unknown with aide-de-camp Corporal Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson).

Percy returns home with a strong conviction that he has stumbled upon proof of a lost civilisation that will astound the academic elite. A second expedition in the company of wealthy adventurer James Murray (Angus Macfadyen) teeters on the brink of disaster, but Percy pushes forward, terrified of the consequences of failure.

Shot on location in the Colombian rainforest, The Lost City of Z is a handsome tribute to one man’s struggle against himself and Mother Nature.