The Grapes Of Wrath
Welcome to this week's Stay-at-Home Seven, if you're looking for more streaming inspiration, check out our recent Streaming Spotlight on films that love books.
The Grapes Of Wrath, 3pm, Talking Pictures TV, Monday, September 3
Jennie Kermode writes: A famous book focused on (and written during) the Great Depression, extolling the virtues of collectivism. A famously right wing director working at a time when the US film industry was suspicious of the least trace of Communist thought. John Ford's adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic is a strange beast - politically declawed, perhaps (and with the female characters noticeably minimised, too) but still impactful. There's simply no way to watch this tale of an ageing matriarch and her ex-con son go across the dust bowl of Oklahoma in search of jobs that don't exist without feeling anger at the exploitative behaviour of employers and the systemic failure of government to guard its citizens' backs. It's reframed, to an extent, as an adventure story, making it a little less grim to watch - there's also a stubbornly upbeat, "We'll survive no matter what" type ending (unfortunately, of course, many people didn't). This aside, however, it's remarkably true to the book, and Ford's devastating images of a ravaged landscape will stay with you. Read our full review.
The Wolf of Wall Street, 10pm, ITV4, Tuesday, September 7
Leonardo DiCaprio grabs the excesses of his dodgy broker Jordan Belfort - on whose memoir this is based - with both hands as Martin Scorsese shoves us headlong into his life of Wall Street profligacy in all its forms. Belfort follows in the footsteps of the likes of Gordon Gekko, greedily grabbing whatever he can, from cash to coke along the way, while the screenplay from Terence Winter and DiCaprio's performance refuse to give him a single redeeming feature or moment of remorse, which is oddly refreshing for this sort of feature. Although some may find its length also tends towards excessive and those who dislike swear words won't last two minutes, there's no mistaking the bite of its satire. Read our full review.
Murder on the Orient Express, 9pm, Film4, Wednesday, September 8
While some may find it sacrilege to see Agatha Christie's Belgian detective given another chance to solve a brutal murder on a moving train a hard sell after Peter Ustinov's memorable turn in Sidney Lumet's 1974 take on the mystery, Kenneth Branagh's well-upholstered remake has plenty of charms of its own. You might quibble at the outsized moustache he sports as he steps into the shoes of the sleuth but he captures the finicky nature of the character well. Behind the camera, he offers grace, as DoP Haris Zambarloukos keeps things moving despite the confined quarters of the train and the cast - as is customary for Agatha Christie adaptations - is also plushly appointed with A-listers including Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe and, notwithstanding his recent fall from grace, Johnny Depp. Branagh has a follow-up, Death On The Nile due for release next year, so this is a good time to familiarise yourself with his incarnation of the idiosyncratic detective. Read our full review.
Moonlight, 12.35pm, Friday, September 10
Famous for the shocking Oscar mix-up with La La Land - which was mistakenly named best picture in 2017 before things were corrected - Barry Jenkins' study of the shifting nature of identity was a most deserving winner. His three-part study of the life of gay African American Chiron also saw Mahershala Ali pick up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Role, although any of its three faces of Chiron - Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes - are equally deserving of plaudits. The world of cinema is full of cliches about African-American life but Jenkins lifts the cloak to show the multi-faceted reality, in a film that also has a poetic grace in the way that it is shot. Listen out for Nicholas Britell's evocative scoring as full of burgeoning imagery as Jenkins' visuals. Read our full review.
Three Identical Strangers, 12.35am, Friday, September 10, 4Seven
If The Tiger King left you grabbing for your jaw as it kept on dropping - wait till you catch this documentary from British director Tim Wardle. It starts from a place of crazy coincidence and spirals onwards to tell the tale of triplets, who only discovered one another existed when they went off to college. Wardle recounts the tale of the men, Bobby Shafran, David Kellman and Eddy Galland from the first media sensation of them finding one another to the increasingly murky world of the adoption agency that had an ulterior motive for sending them to homes with radically different social demographics. Gripping and chilling, Wardle keeps things personal, while never losing sight of the wider implications. You can read the full review here and read what the composer Paul Saunderson told us about working on the film here.
Hell or High Water, 9pm, Film4, Friday, September 10
Heist meets western in David Mackenzie's Texan take on the genre that sees brothers, ex-con Tanner and Toby Howard (Ben Foster and Chris Pine) robbing banks to save their family farm. Writer Taylor Sheridan knows how to stitch a story fully into the place where it is shot - with Wind River and Sicario also great examples - and here he bakes his tale of brothers against the bank, or perhaps the American Dream, into the sun-cracked earth of the Republican state. As the brothers continue their spree, a close-to-retirement sheriff (Jeff Bridges, at his laidback best) is hot on their trail. The showdowns are suitably showy but it's the well-crafted characters, right down to the diner waitresses, that make this memorable. Read our full review.
The Abyss, 9pm, Film4, Saturday, September 10
After tackling extra-terrestrials in space in Aliens, director James Cameron headed in the opposite direction, deep under the sea, for his next encounter with the otherworldly. After a nuclear sub crash, an oil rig crew are sent to the rescue. Some of the thriller elements may be a little overblown but the film is anchored by the well crafted relationship between estranged husband and wife Bud and Lindsey Brigham, played with just the right blend of drama and comic timing by Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and a constant sense of claustrophobic threat. Read our full review.
Our short selection this week is Emma Lazenby's animated celebration of midwifery, Mother Of Many.