Top films to watch on TV this week
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.
Shallow Grave (1994) Film4, 10.45p.m.
Three flatmates try to find a fourth person to share their spacious Edinburgh apartment, but their chosen new lodger dies of an overdose on his first night, leaving behind a suitcase full of cash.
The trio decide to keep quiet about his death and hang on to the money, but disposing of the body has a traumatic effect on one of them, and the presence of all that loot – not to mention a dogged detective – soon has the friends turning on each other.
First-time director Danny Boyle would go on to make the even more successful Trainspotting and the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, and his promise is very apparent in this slick, gripping and blackly funny thriller. There’s also plenty of talent in front of the camera too, with Kerry Fox, Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston playing the flatmates.
Eighth Grade (2018) BBC3, 9p.m.
Thirteen-year-old Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is in the final stretch of solitude at Miles Grove Middle School. She stands awkwardly on the precipice of a more formidable challenge – high school – without any emotional support except for her father (Josh Hamilton).
Unexpectedly, Kayla receives an invitation to a pool party thrown by classmate Kennedy Graves (Catherine Oliviere). Kennedy only extended the invitation under parental duress but Kayla attends nevertheless, hoping to bump into her unrequited crush, Aiden (Luke Prael).
Directed by comedian Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade joins an elite class of cinematic coming-of-age stories which candidly reflect a pivotal moment when hormones rage, bodies develop at an alarming rate and every heartbreak is amplified beyond rational thought to the end of days.
American Made (2017) Channel 4, 11.20p.m.
Pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is haemorrhaging enthusiasm for his job as he provides for his wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) and children. He makes a little money on the side by smuggling Cuban cigars into America in his hand luggage.
This illegal practice is rumbled by CIA handler Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), who coerces Barry into working for the US government by flying reconnaissance missions over Central America to take photographs of the emerging communist threat. During one covert flight, Barry meets members of the high-powered Medellin cocaine cartel, who exploit his greed by employing him to transport narcotics back to America.
Based on a true story of outlandish lies, American Made recreates the late 1970s and 1980s with a swagger.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Channel 4, 11p.m.
Hell hath no fury like a grief-stricken mother scorned in writer-director Martin McDonagh’s blackly comic drama. It has been seven months since Angela Hayes was abducted, raped and murdered on her way home. The dead girl’s mother Mildred (Oscar-winner Frances McDormand) is infuriated by the lack of progress under police chief Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). So, she rents three advertising hoardings on the outskirts of town and emblazons each billboard with a message aimed directly at the man responsible for apprehending the culprits. However, bigoted officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell, who also won an Oscar) reacts violently to Mildred’s public spat with his station.
Impeccably scripted and blessed with a blistering lead performance from McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a truly remarkable film.
Goodfellas (1990) BBC2, 10p.m.
Martin Scorsese’s mob masterpiece focuses on Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who harbours dreams of commanding respect by becoming a gangster. He seems to be on course to achieve his ambitions when he starts running errands for the local Mafia and slowly works his way up the ranks, helped by his friendship with Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro). However, his rise is threatened by his volatile marriage, increasing involvement in drugs and unpredictable mate Tommy (Joe Pesci).
Scorsese effortlessly switches between black humour and genuine menace, and gets career-best performances out of Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and the Oscar-winning Pesci.
The Favourite (2018) Film4, 9p.m.
Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is removed from the machinations of government, allowing her secret lover Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) to effectively control 18th-century Britain. While Sarah has the monarch’s ear, Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult) challenges her authority from his seat of power in Westminster.
At the height of this battle of wits, Sarah’s lowly cousin Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) arrives at court and is employed as a scullery maid. Abigail recognises that the key to bettering her positioning lies in winning the queen’s favour, so she charms and beguiles Anne. Once Sarah discovers her cousin’s plot, she retaliates in venomous kind.
The Favourite is a brilliantly bawdy and boisterous dark comedy. Weisz and Stone savour every bile-drenched syllable but Oscar winner Colman shines brightest.