pick of the week
In a world where even the MCU has been knocked off-beam, it’s reassuring to know that at least some superheroes can maintain their reliability. Matt Reeves’s The Batman isn’t a perfect film – it’s very long and takes itself too seriously – but what it gets right, it absolutely nails. Paul Dano’s Riddler works perfectly as an embittered online troll, and Colin Farrell’s Penguin might be the greatest ever committed to screen. Even better, Robert Pattinson plays Batman as little more than an angry waif, leaving plenty of room for him to grow in subsequent installations. It’s one of the best superhero movies of the year, but make sure you go to the toilet before you start watching.
Friday 2 December, 8am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
We find ourselves at the time of year when it is almost impossible to avoid the rush of Christmas movies, and you might as well kick things off with one of the best. Paul Feig’s Last Christmas has a slightly hokey premise – if you know the lyrics to the Wham! song of the same name, you basically know the entire plot – but the whole thing is carried along by a sparkly Emma Thompson script and an endearingly grinchy lead performance by Emilia Clarke. The film does exactly what you want it to, including making you cry at the end. Isn’t that what Christmas films are for?
Sunday 27 November, 10pm, BBC Three
“Bad husbands of cinema” is a category with almost unlimited choice, but it’s nice to home in on one particular wrong-un. Jonathan Pryce’s here is an all-time git; a needy writer with wandering eyes who, after efforts to write a novel end poorly, suddenly becomes a bestseller. Part of what makes Pryce so insufferable is the way that “the wife” – Glenn Close – plays off him, rolling in wave after complicated wave of care and jealousy and loathing for the dismal man she married. Of all the Oscars Close should have won, she should have won this one the most.
Monday 28 November, 11.15pm, BBC Two
It is always fun to watch movie stars break out of their typecast personas, and for this reason alone No Escape is worth a watch. It is an Owen Wilson film, but about as far away from his wide-eyed slacker comedies as you can imagine. Wilson (along with his screen wife Lake Bell) finds himself caught up in the epicenter of a violent uprising in south-east Asia, and has to run and fight and murder his way to freedom. Was No Escape a commercial success? No, it wasn’t. But is it fun to watch a big-league movie star wake up and decide that he wants to be Liam Neeson? Oh God yes.
Tuesday 29 November, 2.50am, Channel 4
The Elephant Man
Cited as the one David Lynch film that even David Lynch objectionists can get behind, 1980’s The Elephant Man remains a profoundly beautiful piece of work. As John Merrick, a man whose physical disfigurement has caused him to be pushed to the fringes of society, John Hurt offered a career-best performance. For all its black-and-white formality and stiff period details, this is a film of almost unbearable humanity; although the “I am not an animal!” scene became notorious, the real gutpunch is the ending.
Wednesday 30 November, 11.50pm, BBC Two
rank, the exact scientific opposite of The Elephant Man, is the film in which Jason Statham has to stay alive by keeping his adrenaline topped up by any means possible. This means he must fight, take drugs, drive as erratically as he can and have sex in public places, all while giving one of the least self-conscious performances of his career. It’s an obnoxious film, this; gratuitous and leering and thoroughly empty. That said, it is an example of a perfectly realized concept. If you’re after edge-of-your-seat gonzo show, this is the film for you.
Thursday 1 December, 11.10pm, ITV4
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
After the car crash of what it did to Persuasionyou’ll be pleased to know that Netflix’s next stab at adapting an important piece of literature isn’t nearly as bad. Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s version has already won rave reviews, and it’s easy to see why: lesser adaptations have boiled the story down to a handful of sex scenes strung together with weak connective tissue. Here, Lady Chatterley (Emma Corrin) and Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell) find themselves tied up with so much regret and longing that, when the sex finally happens, it hits all the harder.
Friday 2 December, Netflix