Stay-At-Home Seven: August 23 to 29

TV and streaming picks for the coming week

by Amber Wilkinson

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves, 6.20pm, BBC1, Saturday, 28 August

Forget Kevin Costner and his Merrymen, this reworking of the tale of the heroic outlaw is worth watching for the late, great Alan Rickman alone. He plays the evil Sheriff of Nottingham with a delightful deviousness, nailing the best of the comic lines like "Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas." and "I'm going to cut your heart out with a spoon!" with aplomb. Away from the comedy, the whole enterprise speeds along at a decent pace, although I accept that many who remember it on first release may still bear the scars of Bryan Adams' Everything I Do topping the UK charts for a whopping 16 weeks. Read our full review.

The Courier, Amazon Prime

Originally screened at Sundance under the title Ironbark in January 2020 - which seems like a lifetime ago now - this well-appointed Benedict Cumberbatch spy thriller gives the British star an opportunity to take centre stage. His businessman Greville Wynne finds himself unexpectedly recruited as a civilian go-between after a Soviet colonel (Mirab Ninidze) tells the West he wants to help stop a nuclear war. What the film lacks in general spy-craft it makes up for in general relationship drama as the two men forge an unlikely friendship in a bid to change the course of history and that makes a gripping watch as they come increasingly under threat. Read our full review.

The Old Man And The Gun, 9pm, Film4, Monday, 23 August

Although he said, "Never say never", Robert Redford indicated this would most likely be his final film role - and if it is, he certainly went out on a high with this low-key crime charmer. He plays Forrest Tucker - a character based on a real-life ageing bank thief who hit the headlines after pulling off a series of unfailingly polite bank robberies. Writer/director David Lowery has always had an interest in mortality and legacy and it's in evidence again here, while he also nods to the breadth and depth of Redford's own career. The whole thing is topped off by lovely supporting performances from the likes of Sissy Spacek and Danny Glover. Read our full review.

Thunder Road, 10.50pm, Film4, Monday, 23 August

This debut feature from Jim Cummings - whose follow-up The Beta Test will be in cinemas later   this year - is as sharp as Lowery's film is sweet. The writer/director also stars as Jim Arnaud, a police officer who is dancing on the knife edge of a nervous breakdown. Stitched through with black tragicomedy, Jim is trying to hold it together at work while also navigating a poisonous custody row over his daughter. Beginning with a funeral scene quite unlike anything you'll have seen before, Cummings generates a constant sense of unease at the same time as still retaining some sympathy for his flawed central character. Read our full review.

Gran Torino, 10pm, ITV4, Wednesday, 25 August

Like The Old Man & The Gun this is an old-fashioned film in the best sense of the phrase and shows that veteran star Clint Eastwood, who also directs, has, like Redford, lost none of his acting ability down the years. He plays grumpy, not to mention racist, Korean war veteran Walt Kowalski, who has a mint-condition Gran Torino car in his garage. Things change, however, when he catches Hmong teenager Thao (Bee Vang, who it's worth noting has criticised the film for its portrayal of the Hmong community since) trying to steal his motor and the gears of his neatly ordered world start to shift. Eastwood gets under the bonnet of Walt to find out what makes him tick like he does, even as he starts to find new rhythms through his interactions with Thao and his sister  Sue (Ahney Her). The result has a touching, if strictly conservative, trajectory with a surprising amount of comic mileage in the tank. Read our full review.

Memory: The Origins Of Alien, 11.20pm, Film4, Thursday, 26 August

Director Alexandre I Philippe likes nothing more than a deep dive into a project - as evidenced by his documentary dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in 78/52. This time out he steps into not just the making of Ridley Scott's space classic but into the mythology that lies behind it. Structured so that it builds to the infamous scene with John Hurt and his chest complaint, Philippe talks to members of the cast about their memories as well as digging about with experts into everything from Greek Furies to comic strip tale Seeds Of Jupiter. Detailed enough to delight fans, Philippe also offers enough background to hook in more casual viewers. Read our full review.

Raging Bull, 11.20pm, Film4, Sunday, 29 August

Robert De Niro's work may have been decidedly patchy in the past decade or so but this classic is a reminder of just how great he can be at his most intense. He inhabits the hulking figure of Jake La Motta in Martin Scorsese's tale of the self-destructive boxer, who can't keep his violence in check, working for the first but not the last time against Joe Pesci, who plays as La Motta's brother-cum-manager Joey, in the role that brought him to prominence. There's an operatic quality to the action both inside and outside the ring, with cinematographer Michael Chapman (reteaming with Scorsese after Taxi Driver) using the crisp black and white to great effect both inside and outside the ring. Read our full review.

This week's short selection is the award-winning short film that Jim Cummings made before Thunder Road and which went on to be developed into the opening scene of his feature.

Thunder Road from Jim Cummings on Vimeo.

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