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Top films to watch on TV this week

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Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise (Friday, BBC1, 11.30p.m.)

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise (Friday, BBC1, 11.30p.m.)

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams in Get Out (Saturday, Channel 4, 11.10p.m.)

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams in Get Out (Saturday, Channel 4, 11.10p.m.)

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Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise (Friday, BBC1, 11.30p.m.)

WEDNESDAY

World War Z (2013) Film4, 11.15p.m.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a retired United Nations investigator who devotes his time to his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and daughters Constance (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove). During a drive through Philadelphia, the Lanes witness the spread of a disease, which transforms people into merciless predators with a single bite. Gerry’s old boss at the UN, Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena), guarantees Karin, Constance and Rachel safe passage on an aircraft carrier if Gerry agrees to travel behind enemy lines to discover the source of the outbreak.

World War Z is a post-apocalyptic zombie action horror which boasts a cracking opening 60 minutes. The final act, which was rewritten and reshot, feels out of kilter with the rest of the film but does at least stem the hordes of computer-generated undead.

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THURSDAY

Fight Club (1999) Film4, 10.55p.m.

An insomniac office worker (Edward Norton) is tired of his boring day job and spends his evenings crashing support groups for illnesses he doesn’t have. However, when he meets mysterious soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) on a plane back from one of his business trips, they establish a very different kind of club where similarly frustrated men come to vent their anger in the form of bare-knuckle fighting.

With a star-studded cast, including Helena Bonham Carter in what was then seen as a huge departure from her period movie roles, director David Fincher’s pitch-black comedy became an instant cult classic. In fact, author Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote the book on which Fight Club is based, has even said that he thinks the film is an improvement on his novel.

FRIDAY

Thelma & Louise (1991) BBC1, 11.30p.m.

Bored housewife Thelma (Geena Davis) and downtrodden waitress Louise (Susan Sarandon) plan to leave their humdrum existences behind during a weekend road trip. Unfortunately, the break turns out to be more life-changing than they could ever have imagined when Thelma is attacked by a would-be rapist, and they shoot him in self-defence. Instead of going to the police, they make the fateful decision to run from the law and end up in even more trouble.

Ridley Scott’s terrific drama puts an engaging, feminist spin on the buddy road movie thanks to Callie Khouri’s excellent script. There are strong supporting performances from Brad Pitt as a dashing criminal and Harvey Keitel as a sensitive cop, but this is the ladies’ film all the way, with Davis and Sarandon making the most of their meaty roles.

SATURDAY

Get Out (2017) Channel 4, 11.10p.m.

Gifted black photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is nervous about a road trip to meet the parents of his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams). When he arrives at her parents’ pristine home, he is warmly welcomed by Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) and his psychiatrist wife, Missy (Catherine Keener).

But something about the neighbourhood feels out of kilter and Chris is unnerved by the passive behaviour of the Armitages’ black groundkeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) and maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel).

Get Out is a razor-sharp satire, which draws inspiration from the creeping dread of The Stepford Wives to take a scalpel to simmering racial tensions in present day America. Jordan Peele’s slickly engineered horror prescribes shocking violence and laughter in equal measures.

SUNDAY

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010) ITV, 3.50p.m.

While her husband (Ewan McGregor) is away at war, Mrs Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) valiantly takes charge of the family farm with her three children, and their two snooty, well-to-do cousins. So, it’s a good job Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) arrives in the nick of time to show the little brats that the best way to overcome any problem is to work together.

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is a glorious, rumbustious romp that once again demonstrates Thompson’s magical touch in front of and behind the camera. As screenwriter, she crafts believable, funny and endearing characters, whose plights move us to laughter and tears. In her guise as the eponymous guardian angel, Thompson underlines the central message about inner beauty with another sparkling performance.

MONDAY

Phantom Thread (2017) BBC2, 11.15p.m.

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is the creative dynamo of a luxury fashion house in 1950s London. His sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) presides over the seamstresses and manages Reynolds’s romantic vacillations.

During a seaside break between commissions, “confirmed bachelor” Reynolds embarks on a whirlwind affair with waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps). Alma’s swift introduction to Reynolds’s life in the capital puts her on a collision course with Cyril and her lover’s impossibly demanding nature.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’ Phantom Thread is an artfully stitched and slow-burning study of competing obsessions. Day-Lewis delivers a typically fine, complex performance (reportedly his last before self-imposed retirement), while his sister is played with scorching intensity by Oscar-nominee Manville.

TUESDAY

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) BBC2, 11.45p.m.

Director Céline Sciamma acclaimed, absorbing French drama stars (Noémie Merlant) as Marianne, an 18th-century artist who is hired to paint a portrait of the aristocratic Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), which her mother (Valeria Golino) can show to a wealthy prospective husband.

The problem is Héloïse doesn’t want to be married off, so she won’t sit for an artist. As a result, Marianne must pose as her companion during the day, and then secretly paint her at night, but despite the subterfuge, the two women start to grow close.

As befits a film about artists, Portrait of a Lady on Fire looks stunning, and Merlant and Haenel are both terrific in the leads.


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