Stay-At-Home Seven: April 19-25

TV and streaming highlights this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Promising Young Woman
Promising Young Woman Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Promising Young Woman, Sky Cinema

If there's one thing that's not in doubt as you watch Carey Mulligan's performance in Emerald Fennell's directorial debut, it's that she's having a whale of a time as a damaged young woman seeking vengeance on male predators. By day, Cassie (Mulligan) works in a coffee shop but by night she goes on the hunt as a pretend-drunk, waiting to catch sleazebags with her honey trap. Although Fennell sometimes struggles to balance the tone between the romantic comedy element of the film - as Cassie develops a relationship with Ryan (Bo Burnham) - and its darker #MeToo themes, she carefully prises open the lid of victim-blaming and lasting trauma as Cassie's history is gradually revealed. Read our full review.

Mother!, 1.25am, Saturday, April 24 Film 4

Darren Aranofsky's surreal film also hinges on a central performance from Jennifer Lawrence as the wife of a writer (Javier Bardem) who is battling writer's block, her face filling the camera a lot of the time. There's an oddness here from the start... and that's before a series of unwelcome guests begin knocking on the door. Aranofsky isn't interested in the niceties of plot so much as he is pulling the levers of psychological unease and anxiety as he fuels his quasi-religious/quaisi-ecological allegories. Lawrence's character tries to hold it together against the barrage of an increasing onslaught as he dials the mayhem up to 11 and beyond - not a faultless movie by any means but you have to admire both the commitment and the excess. Read our full review.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 9pm, Paramount Network, Monday, April 19

Any of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns are worth catching but this third instalment of the Dollars Trilogy is arguably his finest hour. This time the man with no name (Clint Eastwood, still probably the only man alive to really rock a poncho) is taking on 'the bad' (Lee Van Cleef) and 'the ugly' (Eli Wallach) as the trio attempt to double-cross their way to a stash of treasure. The film is packed with great moments, from its opening gun battle to its sweaty Sad Hill Cemetery climax, all accompanied by Ennio Morricone's iconic score. Be warned, all other westerns will pale in comparison after watching this. Read more about the score and our full review.

To The Stars, Sky Cinema, fromTuesday, April 20

While Emerald Fennell's BAFTA-winning A Promising Young Woman is getting the most attention, this American indie is well worth a look. Originally screened graded in black and white at its Sundance premiere, this is the colour version. The Sixties-set smalltown drama, directed by Martha Stephens, sees shy and bullied Iris (Kara Hayward) find friendship with devil-may-care new kid in town Maggie (Liana Liberato). Elements of this tale may be familiar but Stephens showed she was good at writing friendship dialogue in her co-directed Land-Ho! and her words are elevated by strong performances from the central pair. Read our full review.

Pepe The Frog: Feels Good Man, BBC iPlayer for eight months

This got a mention in the Stay-At-Home Seven last year, but after the post-election storming of the US Capitol building in January, Arthur Jones' eye-opening documentary feels even more sharply relevant. It charts the bizarre metamorphosis of the frog of the title, from a small, slacker comic book character to hateful internet meme - much to the surprise and then horror of his creator Matt Furie. Jones covers the background elements well, so that you don't have to bring prior knowledge of Pepe - or memes - to the film, and slickly carries us on this unlikely journey that saw Pepe first hop to MySpace before going rogue courtesy of 4chan. As well as considering the power of memes and the right-wing rise through social networks, Jones' film also explores what the idea of intellectual property means in the modern interconnected world, as Furie finds it's harder to get Pepe back in his original pond than he could ever have imagined. Read our full review.

Baby Done, Curzon Home Cinema, Amazon

If you're in the mood for something light and frothy then this New Zealand romcom is well worth a watch. Its likeable, realistic characters go a long way to making up for its reliance on former as arborist Zoe (Rose Matefeo), finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. The film charts the problems this throws up for her and her partner Tim (Matthew Lewis), focusing not on the suggestion that neither of them want kids but on the fears Zoe has about the way her life will change once she does - and on her desire to squeeze every inch of adventure out of the intervening nine months. Read our full review and, if you get a taste for Antipodean films after this, check our last week's Streaming Spotlight on Aussie female filmmakers.

Dogman, All4, until tomorrow

There's a last chance to catch Matteo Garrone's dark psychological drama on All4 this week, which though flawed, is worth checking out. Set in a rundown part of southern Italy, where everything seems to be rotting away, the focus is on Marcello (Marcello Fonte) who works as a dog groomer who has a sideline in coke dealing. The idea of who is grooming who becomes the question of the film and if Marcello's "mad dog" customer Simone (Edoardo Pesce) is a bit one-note, the twisted psychology of Marcello is revealed with careful precision by Fonte. Dog lovers, however, should approach with caution. Read our full review.

This week's short selection is Alice Nelson's debut short Vocation, an affecting biographical consideration of the life and sacrifice of her uncle priest.

Vocation from Alice Nelson on Vimeo.

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