Everybody's favourite bear is back in Paddington 2
Welcome to this week's Stay-At-Home Seven, our guide to the best of what you can see on TV over the coming week.
The Greatest Showman, 9.00pm, Film4, Monday, June 7
PT Barnum was a legend in his own lifetime, creator of the big top circus and astonishingly ambitious in every area of life. Michael Gracey’s tongue-in-cheek biopic, which is somewhat economical with the truth, stars Hugh Jackman in the lead, and though its assorted song-and-dance numbers vary in quality, his acting gives it force. Rebecca Ferguson is also on great form as singer Jenny Lind, who was known as the Swedish Nightingale, and there’s a nice turn from Zendaya, who is currently winning over Marvel fans in Spider-man: Far From Home. An undercurrent of class politics and disability politics lend weight to a film which also delivers the high drama of marital conflict and egotism that musicals thrive on.
Amber Wilkinson writes: Lenny Abrahamson has move into television recently, showrunning and directing the hit drama Normal People, based on the novel by Sally Rooney, and he previously showed his aptitude for translating books to screen with this keenly observed drama (adapted from her own novel by Emma Donoghue) about the heartbreaking lengths a mum has gone to in order to protect her son. Joy (Brie Larson) and five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) are living in the room of the title. Abrahamson, a grand manipulator of shifting perspective and mood, shows how through Jack's eyes it's an entire universe, as Joy keeps him oblivious of the fact they're being held captive. Change comes, bringing with it surprise and a change of tack, allowing Abrahamson to surprise the audience with a fresh viewpoint, while keeping a tight grip on both the film's thriller elements and its emotional core of ferocious maternal love.
The Shape Of Water, 9pm, Film4, Wednesday, June 9
A marvellous tribute to the creature features of yore, Guillermo Del Toro's Oscar-winning spectacular upends the conventional morals of Fifties America to find heroes in unlikely places. The ever reliable Sally Hawkins won a league of new admirers with her performance as mute cleaning lady Eliza, very much at the bottom of the hierarchy on the secret government base where a mysterious creature is brought at the behest of Michael Shannon's sinister federal agent. Whereas everyone else is horrified by the creature, Eliza finds him strangely beautiful and, as the two develop an unexpected romance, hatches a plan to break him out with the aid of fellow cleaner Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and gay best friend Giles (Richard Jenkins). There are quite a few stereotypes here, but that's the natures of fairy tales. With Cold War drama playing out in the background and a strange secret buried in Elia's own past, there's a lot to engage with here - plus, in one of its most delightful comic scenes, you'll get a hint of how the young Del Toro once destroyed his parents' bathroom.
The Lobster, Film4 on Demand, until June 22
Amber Wilkinson writes: Yorgos Lanthimos layers on the irony in this tale of a Dystopian near-future, where human relationships are key survival - at least in your current form. Guests at a plush hotel are single, a situation that cannot be allowed to continue, and who have checked in with the clock ticking on 45 days to find a mate - with faking it till you make it not an option - before they find themselves, instead, transformed into the animal of their choice. Among them is divorcee David (Colin Farrell), who finds himself on the run with other escapees who, in an absurdist twist, are forbidden to have romantic relationships altogether. The satire here is sharp and the humour as dry as unbuttered breakfast toast but there's just enough of a suggestion of a soft undercarriage to lend Lanthimos' film some emotional weight.
Phantom Thread, 11:20pm, BBC2, Friday, June 11
Featuring the last ever film performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, who announced his retirement shortly before it was released in 2018, Paul Thomas Anderson’s sumptuously presented drama has echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo in its portrait of a romance which hinges on the reshaping of a woman (played by Vicky Krieps) into somebody else. Day-Lewis is a celebrated tailor, designer, at the peak of his powers; she is the waitress who becomes his model and surrenders herself to him, waiting to be created – but as she discovers herself, the threads begin to twist. The film is wonderfully detailed, with stunning costume design by Mark Bridges, and every detail tells a story. It’s a remarkable piece of craft.
Tremors, 6.35pm, Horror Channel (Freeview Channel 68), Saturday, June 12
Amber Wilkinson writes: Creature features don't come much more endearing than Roy Underwood's horror comedy about a desert town under siege from giant sandworms. Screenwriters SS Wilson, Brent Maddock hit the sweet spot between scares and smiles and Kevin Bacon leads from the front as odd-job man Earl, affably riffing off Fred Ward as his pal Earl. Underwood understands what made all those Fifties B-movies tick and employs all the familiar elements here, letting the characters' relationships blossom as the tension mounts without letting the comedy slacken.
Paddington 2, 5pm, BBC1, Sunday, 13 June
Most sequels never come close to the quality of the originals, but there are a few happy exceptions. Paul King’s second delightful take on the work of children’s author Michel Bond hits all the right notes. It begins with the understanding that a bear lie Paddington only needs a simple challenge – in this case, obtaining a birthday present for his Aunt Lucy – to get into some serious scrapes. When he is framed for a crime he didn’t commit, his family comes to the rescue, and a mystery unfolds. With a splendid cast including Sally Hawkins, Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant, this is a wee charmer of a film, smart enough to please the adults while thrilling the kids.
This Is Me
Fancy a short treat you can get stuck straight into? Give this a try.