Stay-At-Home Seven: November 15 to 21

TV and streaming picks for the week ahead

by Amber Wilkinson

The French Connection
The French Connection
The French Connection, 9pm, Talking Pictures TV, Monday, November 15

William Friedkin's gritty 1971 thriller is as good as they get - and likely to make you mourn the fact that Gene Hackman retired from acting 16 years ago all over again. He stars as NYPD detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle alongside the equally reliable Roy Scheider as his partner Russo as they take on a narcotics ring while breaking every rule in the book. There's a docu-realism to the camerawork meaning you can almost taste the tang of the New York city streets and the subway train chase scene has also lost little of its impact down the years, even if Doyle's attitude is even more problematic by today's standards than it was back then. Read our full review

God's Own Country, 1.05am, Film4, Friday, November 19

Francis Lee's earthy Yorkshire-set debut about frustrated young farmer Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor), who finds his horizons and heart broadened by the arrival of seasonal worker Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secareanu) is an emotionally raw and turbulent tale leavened by sweetness. Lee's father is a farmer and it shows in the detail he brings to the drama, which is largely set against the backdrop of lambing season and which is evocative of the feel and smell of the farm as well as the look. The filmmaker is also acutely aware of the landscape, which opens up as Johnny's relationship with Gheorghe begins to bloom. Read our interview with Lee and our interview with O'Connor and Secareanu.

Night Of The Eagle, 2.15am, Talking Pictures TV (Freeview Channel 81), Saturday, November 20

This genuinely creepy black and white horror - which regular readers of this column will know is a perennial favourite - had the more lurid alternative title Burn, Witch, Burn in the US. That feels all wrong for the understated chills offered up by Sidney Hayers' film. The story centres on a sceptical academic (Peter Wyngarde, making a big impression in his first leading role on the big screen), who discovers his wife (Janet Blair) is a practising witch. His career has been going swimmingly, but when he takes her to task for her spells and protections, trouble starts to brew - with Hayers retaining an impressive ambiguity as to whether the rational or the supernatural holds the upper hand. The suburban setting adds to the oppressive atmosphere, and this and its scrutiny of gender politics may well put you in mind of later horror hits like Rosemary's Baby and Stepford Wives. With sharp chiaroscuro and use of a reel-to-reel recorder in the unsettling sound design, this is the perfect movie to enjoy just past midnight. Read our full review here.

Prisoners of the Ghostland, Shudder, from November 19

If you like visual extravaganzas then you won't go far wrong with Sion Sono's eye-popping eastern-inflected take on the western. It stars Nic Cage, who thrives in this sort of excessive environment as Hero, a bank robber offered a chance of freedom by a kingpin type known as The Governor (Bill Mosely) in return for rescuing his "granddaughter", played by Sofia Boutella, (a woman who is actually his sex slave). All of this is just an excuse for Sono to set up one set-piece after the next, involving everything from a gumball machine to a suit fitted with testicle bombs. It may all be excessive but it's never boring. For those who don't have a Shudder subscription, the film is also out to own on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Read our full review.

Whip It, Pluto.tv

Drew Barrymore's directorial debut is a blast from start to finish as she takes a tried and tested formula and fills it with energy. Elliot Page stars as Bliss, a bored teenager who discovers her tribe after stumbling upon a roller derby team and joins them as their Hurl Scouts take on rivals the Holy Rollers. The film is packed with great performances, not just from Page but also from supporting stars including Barrymore, Kristen Wiig and Alia Shawkat as writer Shauna Cross takes time to flesh out the relationships on and off the rink. Read our full review.

Mary Poppins, 4.20pm, BBC1, Saturday, November 20

There's something reassuringly autumnal about sitting down to watch on a Saturday afternoon to watch a family favourite - and this musical is still as enjoyable and heartwarming now as it was back in 1964. Julie Andrews' magical nanny might sing about a spoonful of sugar but the film largely avoids sickly sentiment in favour of more intelligent ideas and emotions as Mary takes the Banks children (Karen Dotrice and Michael Garber) under her wing and on some exciting adventures. With great musical numbers, including Chim Chim Chim Cher-ee and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, even Dick Van Dyke's terrible cock-er-ney accent only seems to grow sweeter with rewatching. Read our full review.

The Midwife, 1.20am, Sunday, BBC2, November 21

Although the plot of French director Martin Provost's film is a little underpowered, it's worth catching for the twin performances of Catherine Frot and Catherine Deneuve as a seriously minded midwife and the old flame of her father's, who blasts into her life. Deneuve is a delight as the impetuous Beatrice, while Frot, in the harder to calibrate role, manages to convey her character Claire's low key approach to life without making her a damp squib. Read our full review.

An Saileach, our short this week, is the model of economy - with director Brian Benjamin Dwyer packing a lot of of emotion into its trim one minute.

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