Stay-at-Home Seven: From December 27 to January 2

Streaming and telly picks for the week ahead

by Amber Wilkinson

Finding Dory
Finding Dory

If you're looking for something to watch while you eat your way through a box of chocolates during Crimbo limbo, you've come to the right place. Here's a selection of films to catch on the box and streaming services this week.

Finding Dory, BBC1, 1.30pm, Monday, December 27

This little slice of undersea adventure from Pixar is family animation at its finest. The story hinges on forgetful Dory's sudden realisation that she lost her parents years ago, which sends her on a quest to find them along with Nemo and a surfer dude turtle. Inevitably things don't go to plan and, with the party split up, a whole new band of characters come into play including territorial sealions Fluke and Rudder - who shriek Off! Off! every time someone encroaches on their rock - and a group of seagulls whose rallying call is "Mine! Mine! Mine!". The story itself offers an insight for smaller children about what it is like to live with a disability that is also likely to gently prompt adults to consider the way they treat older people with memory loss. With a fine voice, including Ellen DeGeneres, Idris Elba, Diane Keaton and Andrew Stanton, plus an upbeat finale, there's no excuse not to jump in.

Blade Runner 2049, BBC2, 9pm, Monday, December 27

Denis Villeneuve's sequel to Ridley Scott's original, unfolds 30 years after Harrison Ford's Deckard went on the lam. Now a younger blade runner (Ryan Gosling) is out to find him, complete with his own set of baggage, leading to an encounter that blends the optimistic with the tragic to heady effect. Every frame, from breathtaking action scenes to the stunning skylines, oozes visual class, finally netting Roger Deakins the Oscar for cinematography he had long deserved. Like its predecessor, it has existential themes at heart, though you don't need to have seen Ridley's film to enjoy this as a stand-alone spectacle. Read our interview with screenwriter Hampton Fancher.

Paddington 2, BBC1, 5.55pm, Monday, December 27

The first instalment of this delightful movie adaptation of the adventures of the little bear with the big heart was shown on Boxing Day and, arguably, Paul King's sequel even manages to top the original. Our furry Peruvian hero (voiced by Ben Wishaw) spends some time at Her Majesty's pleasure after he is framed for theft, alongside the almost equally furry Brendan Gleeson as the prison chef, a situation that sees them team up to tackle bad guy Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant, in the form of his life). You can catch up with the first adventure on iPlayer, or watch both films as a double-bill on BBC1 on Sunday, January 2, from 9.55am.

Snowpiercer, 11.35pm, Film4, Tuesday, December 28

Bong Joon Ho's chilly tale of a future dystopia set within the confines of a train was a very late arrival in the UK - turning up more than five years after its original release in South Korea. It certainly delivers the goods, though, as the writer/director takes us on a trip to nowhere aboard this collection of carriages, which is forever looping a ravaged world, with the elites living in the lap of luxury at the front while the less fortunates live in the hellscape that is its tail end. Joon Ho told us: "The script of Snowpiercer is really about the idea that humans, in the system that humans create, they try to control everything." As a metaphor for society's haves and have-nots, the film is familiar if on (and about) the money but it is elevated by visually arresting action sequences that make excellent use of the train's cramped spaces and high concept class system as Chris Evans' Curtis Everett leads the revolutionary charge towards the front. John Hurt, who also co-stars as Everett's mentor, told us the director is "as clever as Hitchcock", after watching this you'll find it hard to disagree.

Inside Out, BBC1, 1.40pm, Wednesday, December 29

Fans of Beano comic strip The Numskulls will find themselves in familiar territory with this Pixar animation that takes us into the brain of a young girl to meet the personifications of her emotions. After a house move it's no surprise that there's a lot of conflict up there between Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear but when Joy and Sadness find themselves accidentally evicted from the brain 'control room' they find themselves on an abstract adventure to try to get back. As with Pixar's later Soul, there are quite a lot of existential adult themes at play here but Peter Doctor and Ronaldo Del Carmen strike a sweet balance that delivers whatever age you are.

A Star is Born, BBC1, 9pm, Wednesday, December 29

This fourth iteration of the story of a fading star who strikes up a relationship with a talented newcomer and helps her find fame - leading to romance and tragedy, showed there's a reason why this tale is a perennial favourite. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga make the perfect pairing as the older star with addiction issues and nervous newcomer, and Cooper (who also co-wrote the screenplay) proves he's no slouch in the directorial department either, moving the story along at a fair pace. He hits the sweet spot of delivering the emotional goods without overdoing it, but, be warned, you're also likely to have the Oscar-winning tune Shallow stuck in your head for a week afterwards.

The Jungle Book, BBC1, 3.35pm, Thursday, December 30

Disney's live-action remakes haven't always delivered on their promise but the best of them - including this and Mulan - succeed by bringing a sense of action adventure to the stories. Writer Justin Marks captures the spirit of Rudyard Kipling as Mowgli (Neel Sethi), the man child, finds himself on the kill list of Shere Khan (voiced with silky menace by Idris Elba) and embarks on a coming-of-age adventure with his friends Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and Baloo (Bill Murray, in a part he was surely born to play). The jungle here may be a CGI creation but you can feel the rustle of every leaf, while director Justin Favreau embraces the darker elements of the jungle as well as the light to serve up a gripping adventure yarn that is a minor classic in its own right.

Shadowlands, 2.45pm, BBC2, Thursday, December 30

Fans of intelligent, moving romantic drama, definitely shouldn't miss this Anthony Hopkins double-bill this week - only I hope you got some hankies in your Christmas stocking. First up, he's playing Narnia author CS Lewis as he finds his rather dusty world opening up first to friendship and then romance with American divorcee Joy (Debra Winger, whose performances should probably come with a "bring tissues" warning by this point. Richard Attenborough creates a handsome atmosphere in which both actors bring their A game, as this tale of unexpected connection laced with tragedy unfolds. Literary fans will love the insight into Lewis but it's the human emotion here that is Attenborough's ace.

The Remains Of The Day, 4.50pm, Thursday, December 30

Hopefully you'll still have some hankies left after The Remains Of The Day because you're certainly going to need them for this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker prize-winning novel. A buttoned up butler (Hopkins) whose job comes before everything else finds his life changing after his former lord and master Lord Darlington (James Fox) - a man who might be rather too sympathetic to the Nazis - dies and the estate is taken over by an American millionaire (Christopher Reeves). Essentially a will they/won't they romance between Hopkins' butler and Emma Thompson's young housekeeper, it rides on the pair's delicately worked performances and comes with all the sumptuous period trappings you'd expect from full Merchant Ivory.

Judy, 9pm, BBC2, Thursday, December 30

It's the performance that is to the fore in this Judy Garland biopic, which zeroes in on the six months before her death. Rupert Goold's film - adapted from Peter Quilter's stage musical The End Of The Rainbow by Tom Edge - shows the star's struggles with alcohol and drugs, and her eating disorder but uses flashbacks to remind us of her sense of fun and sheer star power. Renee Zellweger - who took home an Oscar for this performance - may not be a ringer for Garland but she captures her look and attitude perfectly, showing the paradox of her power and fragility while nailing the musical numbers. In that regard, Goold also plays a blinder, having faith in his star to deliver the goods in generous long takes.

Monos, 1.50am, Film4, Thursday, December 30

This riff on Lord Of The Flies boasts some breathtaking, not to mention highly dangerous looking cinematography by Jasper Wolf and a score to die for from Mica Levi. The story of eight child soldiers leading a feral existence with their captive in a remote part of Latin America sees Alejandro Landes generate a nightmarish mood from the start, which feeds off the unpredictability of the youngsters as the group begins to fragment. Landes' film not only has a cow with the wonderfully surreal name of Shakira but also a deliberately chaotic, gripping energy that proves addictive.

The Lost Daughter, Netflix, from Friday, December 30

If the threat of catching Covid meant you didn't catch this in cinemas, now you can watch Maggie Gyllenhaal unsettling drama on Netflix. Her film, adapted from the novella by Elena Ferrante, sees Oliva Colman's professor Leda, taking a break on a Greek island. Her idyll is intruded on by an extended family, including a mother Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her young daughter, who transport her back to her own younger years when (played by Jessie Buckley), she struggled to cope with the overwhelming nature of looking after her own two girls. This is a film all about personal space, closeness and intrusion - and though there is little overt violence the threat of danger seems to be everywhere for Leda, not least the danger of her own thoughts. The film comes into its own because of Gyllenhaal's non-judgemental perspective, even sympathy, for the suffocations of motherhood ("Children are a crushing responsibility"), and the fine performances from Colman and Buckley.

Amazing Grace, 8.30pm, Sunday, January 2

She was known as the Queen of Soul and I defy her performance here not to lift yours, whatever you do or don't believe in terms of faith. The story behind this is amazing in itself. Filmed all the way back in 1972, Sydney Pollack (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?) turned his hand to concert directing, something he wasn't used to and he was given the job over the more experienced James Signorelli, who was originally in the frame. Presumably due to inexperience, Pollack didn't use clapperboards - which help synchronise the sound with the picture, so he ended up with some 2,000 bits of film and no idea how they married to the music and that wasn't fixed until a technical team tackled it in 2008. Then they couldn't find the contract with Franklin for the release and, when they ultimately did, she challenged it. Finally, after her death, her niece Sabrina Owens approved it and here we are. And what a place to be! The fact there were so many cameras has become a virtue in hindsight as there's a real sense of energy about the whole enterprise, Franklin's powerful performance somehow magnified more by the fact she's so quiet in between times. It's truly intimate because of the church setting and the fact that the crowd act not like music fans but in the way of a gospel congregation, jumping up to join in or euphorically clapping along. You feel both the warmth of her room and the heat of her spirit - what better way to start 2022?

This week's short selection is 575 Castro Street, a minimalist work which sets a tape recording of Harvey Milk to images of a reconstruction of his camera shop and which will be screening as part of Sundance Film Festival's celebration of 40 years of the Sundance Institute.

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