Stay-At-Home Seven: January 18 to 23 -

Television and streaming picks for the week ahead

by Amber Wilkinson

Match points: Channing Tatum and an almost unrecognisable Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher.
Match points: Channing Tatum and an almost unrecognisable Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher.

Welcome to this week's Stay-At-Home Seven - if you want more inspiration, try our recent Streaming Spotlight on archaeology on film.

A Film I Love...

The latest season of this Cambridge Film Festival initiative started on January 8 and is continuing in fortnightly chunks. The series sees British film critics offer an introduction to films which are streamed on a "pay what you can afford" basis. Among the films coming up this weekend are Olivia Wilde's bright and bawdy high school comedy Book Smart, Damian Chazelle's jazz-inflected Sundance winner Whiplash and Garrett Bradley's affecting documentary Time, introduced by Anna Smith, Amon Warmann and Simran Hans respectively. More details of how to book from the official site.

The Way Way Back, 6.55pm, Film4, Monday, January 18

Nat Faxton and Jim Rash’s sunny side up debut is filled with the nostalgic warmth of long, hot summers that somehow persist in your mind’s eye even if they never existed in reality. Not that a vacation is particularly appealing to 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James), who is heading off with mum Pamela (Toni Colette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), who is all kinds of awful. But, on arrival, things pick up when Duncan scores a job at the local water park, the realm of the easygoing Owen (Sam Rockwell). Faxton and Rash showed they knew how to write about fracturing families in The Descendants and although their direction here occasionally lacks polish, it’s hard not to like the well-worked coming-age-beats that are given extra spring by the top-notch cast. Read our full review.

Foxcatcher, BBC iPlayer until February

Steve Carell proves he is by no means limited to comedy as he sinks his teeth into the grotesque real-life character of John Du Pont in Bennett Miller's tale of a pair of Olympic wrestling champ brothers and their toxic relationship with the multimillionaire. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo play brothers Mark and Dave who find themselves on a tragic trajectory after being caught up in Du Pont's psychological power games. The true story, brought to screen by writers E Max Frye, Dan Futterman, unfolds in unexpected but never less than gripping ways as the ambiguity about this triangular relationship fuels the tension. Nominated for five Oscars, it could easily have won any or all of them, in a controversial year that saw Birdman take the top gong. Miller is taking on that old favourite A Christmas Carol next, in an adaptation by Tom Stoppard that promises to be worth looking out for. For more on the strange story of Du Pont, you can catch documentary Team Foxcatcher on Netflix. Read the full review.

As Good as It Gets, 9pm, 5 Star, Friday, January 22

Although James L Brooks is best known for his TV work, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant and Taxi, he’s no slouch when it comes to writing for the big screen either and, though it was made a decade later, As Good As It Gets has much of the offbeat, sparky relationship zing of his previous Broadcast News. OCD, misanthropic writer Melvin (Jack Nicholson) finds himself dog-sitting for the neighbour (Greg Kinnear) he’s been throwing homophobic abuse at, while also forging an unlikely relationship with a diner waitress (Helen Hunt) who has a sick son. At more than two hours long, some of this is a bit of a narrative ramble that feels as though it has escaped from a longer comedy series, and it's not without a certain amount of cliché but Nicholson turns the charisma up to stun and is matched step-for-step by Hunt, with both – unusually for a comedy – managing to win Best Acting Oscars for their trouble. Read ourfull review.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 9pm, ITV4, Friday, January 22

Bucking the trend for sequels, this is a bullet-proof second entry in the franchise from James Cameron, which sees Arnold Schwarzenegger's unstoppable killing machine return from the future in order to help Sarah Connor (Linda Miles) protect her son (Edward Furlong) - who will go on to save humanity from - from another cyborg sent to annihilate him. The film adds more humour to the mix while the bleeding-edge special effects used for the deadly, liquid metal T-1000 are still impressive 30 years along the line. Read our full review.

Babyteeth, Netflix

Aussie Shannon Murphy's debut drama - recently arrived on Netflix - takes a refreshingly matter of fact approach to the subject of cancer. Milla (Eliza Scanlen, forging quite a name for herself with this and Little Women) is 16 and, all the usual coming-of-age emotions are being complicated by her chemotherapy. After an encounter with older boy, Moses (Toby Wallace) the pair embark on an unexpected relationship that causes ructions with Milla's mum Anna (Essie Davis) and dad (Ben Mendelsohn). The word 'unexpected' culd be used for much of the narrative, which never feels less than true to life. The film allows Milla's personal story to unfold as we see the world through her eyes with cinematographer Andrew Commis, cleverly employing everything from natural light to neon to add manipulate the mood. Read the full review.

The Shield - complete series boxset, All 4

We usually confine ourselves to films and documentaries for this column, but if you're looking for something you can dip in and dip out over a longer period of time, then Channel 4 currently have some excellent box sets on the service. Among them is this LA-set cop drama, which ushered in a new, grittier style of show alongside The Wire - although, for me, this has the literal and figurative edge. Michael Chiklis plays corrupt cop Vic Mackey, trying to stay one step ahead of the game with his less than bright task force as his boss David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) sets his sights on him. This is just one, early element of this fast-paced show, that mixes often brutal plotlines with dry humour and edgy camerawork that still feels fresh today. Other series boxsets worth looking out for include ER, The West Wing and Malcolm in The Middle. Read our full review of Season One.

We're stepping back to the early part of director Tom Harper's career for this week's short. The Aeronauts and Wild Rose director shows his storytelling skills in the claustrophobic Cubs, which sees teens take up a sinister urban sport. The short is also notable for its cinematography, shot by Robbie Ryan who, of course, has gone on to be one of the leading British cinema craftsmen with films including Fish Tank, Sorry We Missed You and The Favourite.

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