Stay-At-Home Seven: January 25 to 29

Films to watch on streaming services and television this week

by Amber Wilkinson

The White Tiger
The White Tiger Photo: Netflix

The White Crow, BBC iPlayer, until February 22

Oleg Ivenko is a dancer by trade and in his first film role, he has the sort of graceful general comportment that only a real ballet dancer could pull off, which adds to the believability of the film. It is also great to see Ralph Fiennes, who also directs, in a mousy role for a change after all his Lord Voldemort intensity. The story of the early life of Rudolf Nureyev unfolds across a fractured triple time period structure. While these may oversell his impoverished childhood a little, the period when the dancer was in Paris, with its technicolor-bright colour palette, is immersive and Fiennes generates plenty of climactic tension, even though we all know how the dancer's defection went. Read our full review.

The White Tiger, Netflix

It's a good week for streaming films about anomalous animals, apparently. Like Nureyev and The White Crow, the title of Rahmin Bahrani's latest, adapted from Aravind Adiga's Booker-prize winner, refers to the outsider status of his protagonist. Balram (Adarsh Gourav) - who narrates the tale as a letter he is writing to the Chinese premiere - recounts his rags to riches tale, although Bahrani hooks us in early by beginning towards the end of the story. We see how, unlike the roosters, which Balram says, refuse to leave the coop and avoid death, even when they have the opportunity, he becomes determined to throw off his societal and self-imposed near-slave status, even if he has to enter morally dubious territory to do it. Bahrani is scathing about middle-class hypocrisy and the lauded "democracy" of India while also serving up a decent amount of genre thrills. Read our full review.

American Animals, Film4, 9pm Tuesday, January 26

Director Bart Layton goes one step further than the usual 'based on a true story' routine for his second feature, which was an early entry in the documentary/fiction hybrids that have become popular in recent years.Warren Lipka (Evan Peters), Chas Allen (Blake Jenner), Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan) and Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson) were the men with the plan - and Layton dovetails interviews with the real-life perpetrators with his re-enactment of a college library heist. What starts as a thrill ride becomes a much more interesting examination of toxic masculinity and the nature of memory that doesn't let anyone off the hook. Read our interview with Bart Layton and the cast and our full review.

Searching, Film4, 9pm Thursday, January 28

Plenty of films have tried to incorporate modern technology in films with varying amounts of success but Aneesh Chaganty succeeds where many others have failed, presenting this gripping thriller about a man's hunt for his missing daughter as we look out at his world from his computer screen. As dad David (John Cho) begins to learn more about his daughter (Michelle La) as he roots around her hard drive, Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian zero in on the way that adults can appear to be hyper-connected to their children and yet still know only a small fraction of what they are actually getting up to when they connect to the internet. Read our full review.

The Graduate, Sony Movies Classic, 9pm, Thursday, January 28

It seems almost impossible to believe there was a time Dustin Hoffman was unknown to international audiences, but he was largely an off-Broadway star when he hit the big-time in Mike Nichols' sharp satire (which he dropped out of Mel Brooks' The Producers to take on - alongside Brooks' wife Anne Bancroft). He plays Benjamin, a nervy, virginal student who is seduced by his parents' predatory and desperately bored fortysomething friend Mrs Robinson (Bancroft). More than 50 years on, if anything, the deliciously black comedy about middle-class anxieties and intergenerational warfare bites even deeper now than it did then. Read our ~full review

Saint Frances, Netflix

Last year was a strong one for directorial debuts and Alex Thompson's beautifully observed and refreshingly modern comedy drama was up there with the best. Kelly O'Sullivan stars as 34-year-old Bridget, whose life is not turning out as she might have hoped. She takes on a summer nanny job at the same time as she and her younger boyfriend (Max Lipchitz) are trying to navigate the aftermath of her falling pregnant during period sex - situations that hold a lot more laughs than you might imagine. O'Sullivan celebrates life in all its unpredictability as Bridget begins to enjoy looking after feisty little Frances (Ramona Edith Williams, born to be a star) more than she imagined. Thompson seems to have returned to directing shorts after this, but here's hoping it's not too long before his follow-up feature. Read our full review.

Despicable Me, 5.25pm, ITV2, Saturday, January 30

Who doesn't love an antihero? And they don't come much more accidentally loveable than Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell). He and his Minion crew - who have since found their own spotlight - are arch-thieves but new baddie on the block Vector (voiced by Jason Segel) is making life difficult. Not as difficult, however, as the three orphans who land at his feet just as he's plotting his latest heist. The arc for adults - about Gru learning to be a dad - is sweet but it's the inventive minion malarkey and general Looney Tunes madcap sensibility that hold the real draw for all generations. Read our full review.

This week's short selection is Jeremy Engle's beautifully crafted coming-of-age tale Mosquito.

MOSQUITO - A Short Film by Jeremy Engle from jeremy engle on Vimeo.

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