Stay-at-Home Seven: April 25 to May 1

Films to catch on TV and streaming services this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Navalny Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Navalny, 9pm, BBC2, Monday, April 25

This documentary was a timely late addition to the Sundance line-up this year and the invasion of Ukraine makes it even more of a must watch. VladimirPutin’s most famous opponent Alexei Navalny is profiled here and proves to be a lively and engaging interviewee, whose sense of humour is remarkably undimmed given that he was almost assassinated by the Russian state. If you are aware of the story of his poisoning and the subsequent wrangle to extract him for treatment to Germany, some of this will be familiar, but it is edited together with verve and director Daniel Roher does a good job of getting Navalny to open up via interview, while also capturing him alongside his family and fellow activists. Nalvalny's ability to be cool and funny under pressure is impressive - not every man would be able to sustain a 'prank call' to those who attempted to kill him. The film is also of interest for the insight it gives into Christo Grozev and the investigative website Bellingcat.

The Old Man & The Gun, 11.10pm, Film4, Tuesday, April 26

Although he said, "Never say never", Robert Redford indicated this would most likely be his final film role - and if it is, he certainly went out on a high with this low-key crime charmer. He plays Forrest Tucker - a character based on a real-life ageing bank thief who hit the headlines after pulling off a series of unfailingly polite bank robberies. Writer/director David Lowery has always had an interest in mortality and legacy and it's in evidence again here, while he also nods to the breadth and depth of Redford's own career. The whole thing is topped off by lovely supporting performances from the likes of Sissy Spacek and Danny Glover.

Calm With Horses, 9pm, Film4, Wednesday, April 27

A nuanced central performance from Cosmo Jarvis anchors this debut feature from Nick Rowland about a gangland enforcer who gets trapped in a moral maze. Arm (Rowland) finds himself increasingly torn between doing the bidding of Dympna (Barry Keoghan, in what feels like a rare role in his homeland these days), who calls the shots in his criminal clan -  and his responsibilities towards his autistic son and ex (Niamh Algar). The film is also notable for its moody and bleak exterior cinematography from Piers McGrail.

Alien, 9pm, ITV4, Wednesday, April 27

Ridley Scott's space horror needs little introduction but it's one of those films that bears up well to repeat viewings and proves that even when you know a jump-scare is coming, it can still catch you thanks to the director's immaculate timing. The story of a small crew suddenly faced with an existential threat may be a slight one but Scott wrings tension from almost every moment, deftly withholding a full-on glimpse of HR Giger's sinister creature, so that it retains its stuff-of-nightmares quality throughout. The ensemble cast, while a bit thin in terms of characterisation, are also pitch perfect while the spaceship itself has a grimy realism.

When You're Strange, free to stream at We Do TV

This isn't the first time the story of The Doors has been brought to the screen, nor probably the last, but Tom DiCillo's film has the benefit of a massive archive of rare footage of Jim Morrison and his band. Although a little bit too in love with Morrison for its own good, this is nevertheless an intimate portrait that finds room to also talk about his bandmates Ray Manzarek, Robby Kriger and John Densmore, whose stories are often glossed over. The film was also markedly improved for its cinema release from its Sundance debut, with Johnny Depp taking over narration duties from Dicllo himself. The catalogue at We Do TV is worth a look, in general, as there are quite a few gems hidden among the B movie fare, including Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries and more recent critics' favourite Pontypool.

Brooklyn, BBC iPlayer until mid-May

A movie just made for incurable romantics, Brooklyn takes the well-worn idea of a woman torn between places and men and gives it a fresh lease of life. Saoirse Ronan is perfectly cast as Eilis Lacey, a young woman in Fifties Ireland whose dreams lie far beyond its shores. She books passage to the States, where she meets the adorable Tony (Emory Cohen) and tries to adapt to her new life. The film captures the way that distance really existed back then, with no easy form of communication back and forth as we have now. And, when Eilis returns to Ireland and finds herself falling for the equally charming Jim (Domhnall Gleeson), there's a real sense of tension in the choice Eilis faces.

I Walked With A Zombie, BBC iPlayer

Post-Easter always sees a bit of a dip in terms of the films showing on the telly, so why not take a step back in time with this cracking atmospheric horror film from Jacques Tourneur? Made the year after Cat People, it saw the director reprise his partnership with producer Val Lewton. The film charts the experiences of young Canadian nurse Betty (Frances Dee) as she heads to the Caribbean to look after a plantation owner's wife (Christine Gordon), only to fall for him (Tom Conway) at the same time as becoming convinced that a voodoo curse is at work. Featuring a resourceful heroine, who knows her own mind and crisp chiaroscuro from J Roy Hunt that emphasises light and dark to an exceptional degree, a moody melancholy permeates the action from start to finish.

We're turning to animation this week and How To Cope With Death, which sees an elderly woman less than prepared to go gently into that good night. It is directed with verve by Ignacio Ferreras, who would go on to animate the excellent Wrinkles.

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