Stay-At-Home Seven: June 13 to 19

Films to watch on TV or stream this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Richard E Grant and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Richard E Grant and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me, 11.20pm, Film4, Monday, June 13 Comedy is served with a cutting edge in Marielle Heller's consideration of the life of Lee Marshall, a writer who turned her hand to forgery to make ends meet. Melissa McCarthy brings her sharp comic timing to material that is much darker than her more regular outings as no-nonsense cat lady Marshall who finds herself in an unlikely partnership with fellow booze-lover Jack (Richard E Grant, having a ball as always) - outsiders who have found an inside track. Striking a balance between being kind of funny and kind of sad is never easy but thanks to the strong central performances, Heller manages that and more in a film that's about more than a clever punchline. Read what Dolly Wells told us about the film here and here.

Bohemian Rhapsody, 9pm, Film4,  Tuesday, June 14 and on Netflix from Thursday

Dexter Fletcher - who was drafted in to finish this biopic after Bryan Singer was fired - would go on to direct the superior Elton John film Rocketman the next year but this more straightforward film still has its charms. The secret of its success is Rami Malek's central performance as the irrepressible Freddie Mercury, although he's no lookalike, he gets the spirit and physical bearing of the man and went on to pick up an Oscar for his trouble. Otherwise, this is a by-the-numbers affair, which dutifully ticks off key points in Queen's career but so long as you're a fan of their music, there's plenty to enjoy.

As Good As It Gets, 10.50pm, Great Movies, Tuesday, June 14

Although James L Brooks is best known for his TV work, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant and Taxi, he’s no slouch when it comes to writing for the big screen either and, though it was made a decade later, As Good As It Gets has much of the offbeat, sparky relationship zing of his previous Broadcast News. OCD, misanthropic writer Melvin (Jack Nicholson) finds himself dog-sitting for the neighbour (Greg Kinnear) he’s been throwing homophobic abuse at, while also forging an unlikely relationship with a diner waitress (Helen Hunt) who has a sick son. At more than two hours long, some of this is a bit of a narrative ramble that feels as though it has escaped from a longer comedy series, and it's not without a certain amount of cliché but Nicholson turns the charisma up to stun and is matched step-for-step by Hunt, with both – unusually for a comedy – managing to win Best Acting Oscars for their trouble.

Videodrome, Horror Channel 11.05pm Wednesday, June 15

Jennie Kermode writes: Released in 1983, David Cronenberg's breakthrough hit has only become more relevant with time. It was inspired by the director's childhood experiences of staying up late at night in Canada to access US broadcast signals, never knowing what he might see, and it follows cable programmer Max (James Woods), who is searching for the next big thing when he stumbles across what seems to be a channel dedicated entirely to showing real violence. His new girlfriend, radio host Nicki (Deborah Harry), finds it arousing and invites him to experiment, but they soon find themselves going in different directions as Max's experiences prompt him to question his own identity and undergo a physical transformation which leads to him literally ingesting media. Going beyond contemporary dialogues about the corrupting influence of violence on television, this is an extraordinarily prescient take on the psychological and sociological shifts brought about by the dawn of the Information Age. Its grimy, low-tech approach and simple yet appropriately discomfiting special effects have aged well and its tremendous influence makes it a film which no serious cinephile can afford to miss.

Love & Mercy, 11.15pm, BBC2, Thursday, June 16

Unfolding over two time periods, Bill Pohland's impressively balanced biopic of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, considers the moment in his youth when, played by Paul Dano, he was taking the pop world by storm with Good Vibrations and Pet Sounds alongside a later snapshot of his life, incarnated by John Cusack, as an overmedicated shadow of his former self who offers a written cry for help to a car saleswoman (Elizabeth Banks). The young and old versions of Brian are joined by creativity and though the film doesn't shy away from the darker side of his life it also celebrates the joy that came to him via music. Giamatti, uncharacteristically, overdoes things a bit as a bad guy doc but for the most part this is a restrained and well-acted study of a man working his way back to some sort of happiness.

Johnny Mnemonic, 9pm, Great Movies Classic (Freeview Channel 52), Friday, June 17

Given that this Keanu Reeves futuristic sci-fi is set in the year 2021, it was almost inevitable that it would be scrubbed up for re-release last year whether the world needed it or not. Keanu Reeves was still four years away from the altogether more successful Matrix franchise but hot off the success of Speed when he stepped into the shoes of Johnny - a courier who transports chunks of valuable information in his brain and who has just taken on a job too big for his circuits. The whole enterprise also proves rather too big for director Robert Longo's budget to do much justice too, with the biggest expense, seemingly, large amounts of TV screens. While its presence on Great Movies Classic is pushing it, there are some interesting coincidences - the fact that it is set in the middle of a pandemic, the idea of where we are with mass information and the suspicion that Big Pharma might not always have our best interests at heart. Best approached with caution and a love of cheese.

Jumanji: The Next Level, 8pm, Channel 4, Saturday, June 18

Jake Kasdan's likeable sequel sees the gang of friends sucked back into the video game world, where losing all your lives could be permanent. This time around the Spencer, Martha, Fridge and Bethany are joined by Spencer's grandad Eddie and Eddie's estranged buddy Milo (played by Dannys DeVito and Glover in the real world). The body-swap fun this time sees Eddie find himself bulked up as Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) while Milo is transformed into Kevin Hart's zoologist, and the Fridge is stuck with Jack Black's overweight cartographer. Martha keeps her Ruby Roundhouse avatar (Karen Gillan). Essentially this is more of the same family fun, although there is a pinch of poignancy added by the older pair of characters getting a new lease of life. Another sequel is already in the works that will, reportedly, focus on the back story of bad guy Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann).

This week's short selection, S.A.M. is playing over on Channel 4's free on demand service. Watch it here

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