Stay-at-Home Seven: April 11 to 17

Our weekly round-up of films to catch on TV and streaming services

by Amber Wilkinson

Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould and Jake Gyllenhaal in Wildlife
Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould and Jake Gyllenhaal in Wildlife Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Wildlife, 11.40pm, BBC2, Monday, April 11, then on iPlayer

Anne-Katrin Titze writes: An avid observer, Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould), the 14-year-old protagonist of Wildlife is our eyes and ears. We behold the world through him and with him - which is not the same. It is 1960. His family recently moved to a small town in Montana, where his father Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) works at a golf course. His mother Jeanette (Carey Mulligan), a former substitute teacher is, by the father's decision mostly it seems, a housewife and mother now. Joe has been given such a bland first name by his parents so that he could go anywhere and be anybody. Feeling trapped, going places, struggling for survival and retaining dignity are the marrow of Paul Dano's impressive, devastatingly piercing directorial début, which he adapted together with Zoe Kazan from Richard Ford's novel. Landscape and music and everyday objects are used to splendid effect. A moody pink sky is accompanied by a soundtrack that echoes a far-away train and a flute. The kitchen rubber gloves are pale green and foreshadow what Jeanette calls her "desperation dress," a taffeta creation in the same hue with the most beautifully cut back. Gyllenhaal makes this angry, proud, disappointed, loving man fully come alive with all his explosive tenderness.

Arbitrage, 9pm, Great Movies, Tuesday

Eugene Jarecki was well-placed to tackle this tale of hedge-fund manager Robert Miller (Richard Gere) in way over his head, as the writer/director is the son of American entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Jarecki and former commodities trader Marjorie Heidsieck. Jarecki told us he's had "a life-long fascination with business" and here he puts his knowledge to good use but keeps the emphasis on the film's thriller elements as Robert's cheating on the homefront also threatens to come home to roost. The crumpled look suits Gere and Susan Sarandon, as his wife, holds her own in a smaller but crucial role. The film is a damning indictment of how transactional life can become for the amoral super-rich. When someone asks Robert if he thinks money's going to fix things, he replies simply: "What else is there."

Chained For Life, 1.25am, Film4, Tuesday, April 12

Jennie Kermode writes: A beautiful, blind young woman. The disfigured man she falls in love with at her father's clinic, only to reject him when her sight is restored. Tragedy and romance intermingle in this old fashioned Hollywood horror yarn, but all is not what it seems, for this is a film within a film, and Aaron Schimberg's astute satire rips it open to expose the exploitation that saturates it at every level. With the audience often deliberately left guessing what's 'fiction' and what's part of the film's reality - which, of course, also overlaps with our own reality - this is a film that draws out the ludicrousness of many people's attitudes to disability and makes them visible to everyone. Chained For Life is a film about guilt in the absence of shame, about musing on the human condition in the absence of humanity, and it's vicious and funny and gorgeously shot.

The Remains Of The Day, 8pm, BBC4, Thursday, April 14

This adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker prize-winning novel is the epitome of well-crafted, adult drama shot through with a very specific type of highly polished Britishness. 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. Stick around for the profile of Ishiguro that follows the film.

Aliens, 9pm, ITV4, Tuesday, April 12

Sequels that are as good as the original film are few and far between but James Cameron's follow up to Ridley Scott's classic, delivers, not just in terms of action but also its carefully worked plot. Rather than simply going over the ground of the original it transports the elements - Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, kick-ass, of course) and the deadly xenomorph - into a new story as our heroine wakes up 57 years later and soon finds herself on a mission to help a colony who has suddenly dropped off the communication grid. Cameron carefully builds the tension, withholding even the sight of an alien initially. Once the action starts, it doesn't let up as there's no saying where a creature will spring from next as the marines with Ripley are picked off one by one. Action filmmaking at its finest lent additional heart and heft by a gentler surrogate mum subplot.

Grease, 6.35pm, Saturday, April 16 Film 4

It might be a bit risque at the edges and, if we're honest, not the most emancipating story in terms of sexual politics but this retro high school musical is still a fun slice of entertainment that can be enjoyed by multiple generations. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John offer delightfully sweet-centred performances in the will they/won't they romance at the film's heart but, arguably, it's Stockard Channing's edgier Rizzo who snags all the best bits - even if she was, at 33, somewhat older than your average school student. The plot is wafer thin but the songs, from the opening Bee Gees number to sing-along Summer Nights and Grease's crazy Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang style ending with foot-tapper We Go Together are undeniably infectious.

Mandibles, 11.45pm, Sunday Film4

What better way to generate some buzz about a film than make it about a giant fly? Although director Quentin Dupieux's back catalogue - involving a murderous tyre (Rubber) and a man who takes the idea of killer style literally (Deerskin) plus the presence of a thigh-high fly might make this sound like a horror film, it is, in fact, a surprisingly charming absurd comedy. French comedians Grégoire Ludig and David Marsais co-star as a pair of amiable goofballs, who hatch a harebrained heist plan after finding the fly - who they name Dominique - in a carboot. Expect the unexpected as comic complications ensue as they try to train her up and look out for the normally more seriously cast Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) as she shouts out her ability to turn her hand at comedy loud and clear.

You'll have to pop across to Vimeo and log to for this week's short selection - Louis Paxton's dark comedy Dollface, which co-stars Simon Harrison, who you might recognise from his later role as Ronnie Box in Endeavour.

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