Letitia Wright gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Altheia Jones-LeCointe in Steve McQueen’s Mangrove, shot by Shabier Kirchner
Perfect 10, BBC iPlayer until December 6
If you missed this on its VoD release in summer, there's a chance to catch up with this strong debut from Eva Riley, which is showing as a series of first films on the BBC - which also has the equally watchable atmospheric psychodrama Make Up and Jehovah's Witness community-set drama Apostasy available to view on iPlayer at the moment. Teenage gymnast Frankie Box proves she's equally adept at acting as she vaults into the role of Leigh, a youngster whose mother has died and who is struggling to garner any attention from her grieving dad (William Ash). When the half-brother she didn't know she had (Alfie Deegan, also a discovery), walks into her life, she finds a sort of kindred spirit - his hurt, though different Leigh's, echoing her own. Riley's spare but effective scripting has a believable naturalism that recalls the early work of Andrea Arnold achieving an intimacy with her characters that resonates beyond the confines of the film. Read the full review.
Attack The Block, Film4 on Demand
Looking back now, Joe Cornish aced it when he assembled for his alien invasion debut feature in 2011, which made a name for its star John Boyega, who plays Moses. It also features future Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker - and I wouldn't put it out of the question that she can genuinely time travel as she seems to have barely aged a day since this was shot - plus Luke Treadaway and Nick Frost in enjoyable stoner roles. Physical effects take precedence over CGI and I love the fact that Cornish is aware of his limitations of his creature's look and isn't afraid to lean fully into that, so that someone makes a joke about a small dead alien looking like a puppet. Although the gang of kids who take on the alien largely present themselves as a wall of aggression and attitude, Cornish never lets us forget they're still children and the use of two even younger kids emphasises the rite of passage that can present itself to kids on these sorts of estates, with the drug kingpin Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter - soon to be seen in Steve McQueen's Mangrove) representing what Moses could become. In that regard, the film offers a good dose of social commentary - as one of these streetwise kids puts it to the altogether more middle class Sam (Whittaker), who they mugged earlier, expecting to get jumped at any moment "feels like just another day to me". The action flies along- which again helps to stop you dwelling too long on the aliens, while its sense of humour that puts it up there with Shaun of the Dead. Read our full review.
Cold Skin, Film4 on Demand
Jennie Kermode writes: An adaptation of the novel by Albert Sánchez Piñol, Xavier Gens' chilling reflection on conflict and colonialism also owes much to the work of HP Lovecraft, with obvious comparisons to The Shadow Over Innsmouth, but it stands as a towering piece of cinema in its own right. It follows a man (David Oakes) who has fled from the world on the eve of war to take up a post as a weather station operator on a remote island. After his shelter is attacked in the night by something clearly not human, he seeks shelter with the tyrannical lighthouse keeper who is his only human neighbour and who does battle every night with the humanoid creatures that emerge from the surrounding seas, all the while keeping one of their number as his lover and abusing her to the point where the newcomer's sympathies begin to shift. In the tradition of the Gothic, it explores a dangerously fragile masculinity often defined through misogyny, yet also raises questions about our society's changing relationship with nature and, simultaneously, with the imaginary, all wrapped up in an immersive experience which is at times truly terrifying.
The Man Who Would Be King, Sunday, November 14, Film4, 6.10pm,
No doubt making the schedules as a tribute to Sean Connery, who died, aged 90, last month, this film features not only a great performance from him but a matching one from Michael Caine as a pair of soldiers on the make, in this Rudyard Kipling adaptation. John Huston had been planning this for 20 years - originally with Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart in the roles, followed by a succession of other big names, including Robert Redford and Paul Newman - and it was certainly worth waiting for. There's a winning camaraderie between Connery and Caine's Daniel and Peachy and plenty of adventure on offer, with a strong underpinning of satire about British imperialism and the corrupting nature of power. Read our full review.
Blade Runner 2049, ITV4, Thursday, November 12, 9pm
There's another winning, if more soulful, double act at the heart of Denis Villeneuve's sequel to Ridley Scott's original, that unfolds 30 years after Harrison Ford's Deckard went on the lam. Now a younger blade runner (Ryan Gosling) is out to find him, complete with his own set of baggage, leading to an encounter that blends the optimistic with the tragic to heady effect. Every frame, from breathtaking action scenes to the stunning skylines, oozes visual class, finally netting Roger Deakins the Oscar for cinematography he had long deserved. Like its predecessor, it has existential themes at heart, though you don't need to have seen Ridley's film to enjoy this as a stand-alone spectacle. Read our interview with screenwriter Hampton Fancher and our full review.
The Road, Sony Pictures (Freeview Channel 32), Saturday, November 14, 11.50pm
Future dystopias have rarely been so bleak as John Hillcoat's reimagining of Cormac McCarthy's best-seller for the big screen. Even colour seems to have forsaken the father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee, proving his emotionally resonant turn in Romulus, My Father was no flash in the pan) who's progress we follow. Hillcoat may have sheared off a few of McCarthy's more shocking elements, but what remains is a lean and broody consideration of the road we're all travelling to a greater or lesser extent. Read the full review.
Mangrove, BBC1, Sunday, November 15, 9.15pm
Anne-Katrin Titze writes: Steve McQueen’s Mangrove (in his Small Axe anthology, which will screen on the BBC in the coming weeks), co-written with Alastair Siddons and shot by Shabier Kirchner, is neither of the period, nor a documentary, and yet, it manages to convey a vivid sense of time, place, and community, plus the critical factual story of the Mangrove Nine (Frank Crichlow, Darcus Howe, Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Rhodan Gordon, Anthony Innis, Rothwell Kentish, Godfrey Millett) and their trial at the Old Bailey in London. It is the opening day of Mangrove, the restaurant owned by Frank Crichlow (played by Shaun Parkes as if he were carrying all of humanity on his shoulders), on All Saints Road, Notting Hill. West Indian spicy dishes are being cooked by Aunt Betty (Llewella Gideon) and served by Kendrick (Tahj Miles) as the joyous crowd spills out onto the street. The police, headed by Constable Frank Pulley (Sam Spruell), an angry, hateful, pockmarked man filled with envy, are watching to “record and observe”. Altheia Jones-LeCointe, outspoken leader of the British Black Panther Movement, which uses the Mangrove as a meeting place, is played by Letitia Wright. Her display of charismatic no-nonsense power and warmth should bring Wright an Oscar nomination. The ease with which McQueen shifts the tone from very serious argument to light-hearted banter is sterling. The energetic script reveals the dynamic of casually inflicted horrors in the name of law and order.Read what McQueen and Kirchner said about the film and our full review.
This week's short is Echo, an emotionally tense drama from Magnus von Horn, who went on to make the critically acclaimed The Here After and whose latest film, Sweat, will screen at Tallinn Black Nights this month. Harrowing but powerful.