Blonde to Harriet: the seven best movies to watch on TV this week | Television and radio

Selection of the week

Blonde

A nearly three-hour visit to the cinematic equivalent of the psychoanalyst’s couch, Andrew Dominik’s biopic of Norma Jeane Baker, AKA Marilyn Monroe, comes after a controversy. It’s an explicit, sometimes brutal look at the making and exploitation of a film icon, and the terrible personal cost she pays in the process. Adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ fierce novel, the film stylishly weaves through Monroe’s life, connecting the dots that led to tragedy. Ana de Armas plays Monroe with a commitment to the emotional extremes and a high degree of accuracy, while Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale star as her husbands Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio.
Wednesday, September 28, Netflix


Beverly Hills Cop

Street smart ... Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop.
Wisecracking … Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. Photo: Paramount/Allstar

This 1984 comedy-thriller was Eddie Murphy’s first solo lead, and what a blast it is. His Detroit police detective, Axel Foley, has the smarts and street smarts that we’ve come to expect from Murphy after 48 Hours and Trading Places. But the fish-out-of-water plot—Foley comes to slick LA off-the-clock to investigate a friend’s murder, enlisting two local cops (Judge Reinhold and John Ashton) to help—gives him the chance to wreak havoc in entertaining new ways. The two sequels follow right after.
Saturday 24 September at 6am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Greats


The offence

His dark material ... Sean Connery as Detective Johnson in The Offense.
His dark material… Sean Connery as Detective Johnson in The Offense. Photo: United Artists/Allstar

In a role as far removed from James Bond’s discomfort with violence as possible, Sean Connery excels as a police officer whose pursuit of a child delinquent tips him over the edge. Sidney Lumet’s 1973 noirish drama is set in a damp, gray Britain, where trauma about past cases draws DS Johnson (Connery) into intense confrontations with his wife, his boss and the prime suspect (Ian Bannen). The latter brings unsettling hints of Johnson’s own repressed desires, sharpened by Harrison Birtwistle’s alienating, atonal score.
Saturday 24 September at 23, Talking Pictures TV


The last black man in San Francisco

Free spirit ... Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
Free spirit … Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Photo: Landmark Media/Alamy

Questions about how you define home and belonging fill Joe Talbot’s quirky drama. It is partly based on the life of his friend Jimmie Fails, who plays a version of himself as a rootless spirit. He lives with his best mate, up-and-coming playwright Mont (Jonathan Majors), but is drawn back to the lovely, large house built in 1946 by his grandfather – although it is now in a desirable white neighbourhood. In the absence of his neglectful parents, Jimmie pours his love into the building, to the point of squatting in it when it becomes vacant.
Sunday 25 December at 1pm, BBC Two


The gift

Rebecca Hall, Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton in The Gift.
Third wheel … Rebecca Hall, Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton in The Gift. Photo: Matt Kennedy/Universal Pictures/Allstar

Actor Joel Edgerton proved a good hand at writing and directing with this 2015 psychological thriller. He plays Gordo, who thrusts himself into the lives of old-fashioned, successful alpha male Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife, Robyn (Rebecca Hall ), after they moved to LA. With the strange Gordo’s interest in them bordering on the intrusive, if not pathological, Simon is determined to keep him out, in a film that cleverly teases us with the obvious before going down more interesting avenues.
Tuesday 27 September at 9pm, great! Movie


Harriet

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet.
Fighting for freedom … Cynthia Erivo in Harriet. Photo: Focus functions/Allstar

Remarkably, it took until 2019 for 19th-century American abolitionist Harriet Tubman to live to appear on film, as she packed enough into it for several. Director Kasi Lemmons and star Cynthia Erivo do a great job of telling her story – from her escape from slavery in Maryland to freedom in Philadelphia to joining the “Underground Railroad” which saved many, many others, including her own family. Erivo is a force of nature as Tubman, whose visionary fits (the film mistakes the God-given rather than a head injury) inspire her mission.
Wednesday 28 September at 10.40pm, BBC One


Daphne

Navigating Life … Emily Beecham in Daphne.
Navigating Life … Emily Beecham in Daphne. Photo: Altitude Film Entertainment/Allstar

A nimble performance from Emily Beecham is at the heart of Peter Mackie Burns’ big-city drama. Her titular 31-year-old character drifts through life in London in a series of casual liaisons, nights out with friends of sorts and unsatisfying shifts in a restaurant kitchen. Her desire to make her own way—possibly as a chef—seems too weak to act on until she witnesses a violent incident and begins stumbling around the center. It’s a film of cumulative effect, with Beecham’s Daphne credibly at sea but never melodramatic.
Thursday 29 September at 02.00, Film4

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