Stay-at-Home Seven - October 25 to 31

Films to catch on TV and streaming services this week

by Jennie Kermode

Mads Mikkelsen in Arctic
Mads Mikkelsen in Arctic

Welcome to this week's Stay-At-Home Seven. Halloween is on the way so there are a few scares in store, but plenty more besides, as we recommend some of the highlights of what you can enjoy at home. Don’t forget that this week you can also check out our Halloween listings for more.

True Romance, Great! Movies, 11:20pm, Monday, 25 October

Written by Quentin Tarantino, directed by the late Tony Scott, this gangland fairy tale about star-crossed lovers on the run never quite achieves the greatness that would seem to be within its reach, but has some terrific moments nonetheless. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette head up a strong cast which includes Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken and James Gandolfini, plus Brad Pitt as a hopeless stoner and Val Kilmer as the ghost of Elvis. A case of cocaine promises a couple of minimum wage kids the chance to start a new life, but only if they can successfully get it across country to Hollywood without getting arrested or killed in the process. A purple Cadillac may not be the most discreet choice of transport but style comes before substance in a visually striking thriller with a lot of heart.

The Maze Runner, Film4, 6:50pm, Tuesday, 26 October

When one is a teenager there are inevitably a lot of things about life that don’t make sense, and that experience of dislocation is neatly captured in Wes Ball’s surreal post-apocalyptic thriller. Like the other boys. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is amnesiac when he awakens in the village, a crude assemblage of huts surrounded by unscalable stone walls. by day, the walls part to reveal a maze which might lead to escape, but at dusk they close and those trapped behind them can be crushed to death, or worse. Bit by bit, the boys are trying to map the maze, but their work is complicated by internecine tensions, and never more so than when, for the first time, a new arrival turns out to be a girl (Kaya Scodelario). The film explores the darker side of human nature whilst – the odd bit of gore aside – keeping things suitable for a young audience.

Arctic, Great! Movies, 7:05pm, Wednesday, 27 October

When we meet Overgård (Mads Mikkelsen) he’s already well established in the wreck of his plane, trusting the standard advice to stay put in hope of rescue, digging holes through the snow to catch fish and doing what he can to scare off the bear that is sniffing around his camp. But when a rescue helicopter crashes nearby, everything changes. Despite his best efforts to help its surviving passenger (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir), she comes down with a fever, and he realises that the only way to save her will be to drag her through mile upon mile of wilderness in search of help. This iconic tale of a lone man pitted against his environment is occasionally slow but packs in plenty of thrills and is anchored by a terrific performance from Mikkelsen, who can command empathy even when his face can barely be seen.

Don’t Look Now, BBC4, 9pm, Thursday, 28 October

A riveting exploration of a couple’s attempts to hold onto themselves and one another after the death of their little girl, this is one of the finest works by the late, great Nicolas Roeg, and an absolute must-see for anyone who is serious about cinema. Donald Sutherland plays the architect who tries to find solace in restoring a church but becomes obsessed by the sight of a red hooded figure who recalls his lost child. Julie Christie is his wife, putting her faith in a pair of elderly sisters who might provide a link to the dead. Most of the action takes place in Venice, whose maze of twisting streets, narrow alleyways and canals reflects the mental trap in which the couple are caught. The air is perpetually saturated with moisture, the city never more beautiful. The chemistry between the leads is electric, their interaction tender, a weight of emotion captured in the smallest details.,

Argo, Netflix, Friday, 29 October

Amber Wilkinson writes: The 1979 Iranian Revolution provides the backdrop for Ben Affleck's tense thriller, which scooped the Best Picture Oscar in 2013. He also takes on acting duties in the real-life tale of how CIA agent Tony Mendez tried to extract six American diplomats from Tehran. Shot in a gritty style to match the period when it's set, the story is one of those that proves fact can be stranger than fiction, as the CIA's "best bad idea" is to create a fully-functioning science-fiction film set up and sneak the diplomats out while ostensibly on a location shoot. By sprinkling humour through the early scenes, Affleck makes the move to the life-threatening reality the diplomats are facing all the more tense, and though he takes a few liberties with the true story, that won't stop you sweating nearly as much Mendez by the time the credits roll.

Kubo And The Two Strings, Film4, 3pm, Saturday, 30 October

A seemingly ordinary child in a seemingly ordinary village, Kubo is in fact the heir of a great warrior, with a remarkable destiny of his own. Okay, so that part might sound familiar, but for the hero of this particular animated tale, the secrets of the past bring as much trouble as joy. They have driven his mother to madness. When the forces of darkness threaten everything he holds dear, he must set out on a quest to retrieve his father’s lost, magical armour in order to set things right. A monkey, an origami warrior and a samurai trapped in the body of a cockroach provide support in a film which is continually inventive and offers plenty to entertain viewers of all ages. There may be big things at stake but there’s still time for some laughs along the way, while the imagery is dazzling andfull of wonder.

Manhunter, ITV4, 10pm, Sunday 31 October

Five years before The Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal Lektor came to the screen in a very different incarnation (even down to the spelling of his name) courtesy of Brian Cox. Michael Mann’s visually stunning adaptation of Thomas Harris’ first Lecter novel, which would later be brought to the screen by Brett Ratner under its original title, Red Dragon, offsets vividly realised horror with a cool psychopathy that will get under your skin. It’s the perfect treat for Halloween, notable for a harrowing performance from CSI’s William Petersen as a troubled FBI agent whose attempts to get inside a killer’s head risk pushing him over the edge. It all builds to a feverish climax, played out to Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which threatens to draw the viewer into the madness at the heart of the tale.

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