selection of the week
In a world where even the MCU has been yanked out of the beam, it’s reassuring to know that at least some superheroes can maintain their reliability. Matt Reeves’ The Batman isn’t a perfect film – it’s very long and takes itself too seriously – but it gets it right when it does it. Paul Dano’s Riddler works perfectly as a bitter online troll, and Colin Farrell’s penguin may be the greatest to ever hit the big screen. Better yet, Robert Pattinson plays Batman little more than an angry waif, leaving him plenty of room to grow in subsequent episodes. It’s one of the best superhero movies of the year but make sure you go to the bathroom before you start watching.
Friday, December 2nd, 8am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
We’re in the time of year when it’s almost impossible to avoid the onslaught of Christmas movies, and you might as well start things off with one of the best. Paul Feig’s Last Christmas has a slightly racy premise – if you read the lyrics to the Wham! In the song of the same name, you basically know the entire plot – but the whole thing is carried by a glittering Emma Thompson script and an endearingly grinning leading actress by Emilia Clarke. The movie does exactly what you want, including making you cry at the end. Isn’t that the point of Christmas movies?
Sunday 27 November, 10pm, BBC Three
Movie Bad Husbands is a category with almost unlimited choices, but it’s nice to settle on a specific fake. Jonathan Pryce is an all-time idiot here; a needy, wandering-eyed writer who, after failed attempts at writing a novel, suddenly becomes a bestseller. Part of what makes Pryce so obnoxious is the way “the woman” – Glenn Close – plays him off, creating wave after wave of concern, jealousy, and disgust for the somber man she’s married , rolls. Of all the Oscars Close should have won, this is the one she should have won the most.
Monday 28 November at 11.15pm BBC Two
It’s always fun to watch movie stars break out of their typecast personalities, and for that reason alone, No Escape is worth a watch. It’s an Owen Wilson film, but as far removed from his wide-eyed slacker comedies as you can imagine. Wilson (along with his screen wife Lake Bell) finds himself at the epicenter of a violent uprising in Southeast Asia and must fight, flee and murder to free himself on his quest for freedom. Was No Escape a commercial success? No it was not. But is it fun to wake up a big movie star and decide you want to be Liam Neeson? Oh god yes.
Tuesday, November 29, 2:50 p.m., Channel 4
The elephant man
Billed as the only David Lynch film that even David Lynch oppositionists can stand behind, The Elephant Man of the 1980s remains a deeply beautiful work. As John Merrick, a man whose physical disfigurement has left him marginalized, John Hurt gave the best performance of his career. For all its black-and-white formality and stark historical detail, this is a film of almost unbearably humanity; although the “I’m not an animal!” scene became infamous, the real slugfest is at the end.
Wednesday 30 November at 11.50pm, BBC Two
The exact scientific opposite of The Elephant Man, Crank is the film in which Jason Statham must stay alive by pumping up his adrenaline by any means necessary. That means he has to fight, do drugs, drive as unpredictably as possible, and have sex in public places while delivering one of the least confident performances of his career. This is a disgusting film; gratuitous and lewd and thoroughly empty. Nevertheless, it is an example of a perfectly implemented concept. If you are looking for a gonzo extravaganza that will blow your mind, this is the movie for you.
Thursday 1 December 11.10pm ITV4
Lady Chatterley’s lover
In the wake of Persuasion’s car crash, you’ll be pleased to know that Netflix’s next attempt at adapting an important piece of literature isn’t nearly as bad. Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s version has already garnered rave reviews, and it’s easy to see why: Minor adjustments have reduced the story to a handful of sex scenes strung together with flimsy connective tissue. Here Lady Chatterley (Emma Corrin) and Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell) find themselves bound with so much regret and longing that it’s all the harder when it finally comes to sex.
Friday December 2 Netflix