Stay-At-Home Seven: June 27 to July 4

Films to watch on telly and stream this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Mother!, Film4, 11.15pm, Monday, June 27

Darren Aronofsky's surreal film hinges on a magnetic central performance from Jennifer Lawrence as the wife of a writer (Javier Bardem) who is battling writer's block, her face filling the camera a lot of the time. There's an oddness here from the start... and that's before a series of unwelcome guests begin knocking on the door. Aronofsky isn't interested in the niceties of plot so much as he is pulling the levers of psychological unease and anxiety as he fuels his quasi-religious/quaisi-ecological allegories. Lawrence's character tries to hold it together against the barrage of an increasing onslaught as he dials the mayhem up to 11 and beyond - not a faultless movie by any means but you have to admire both the commitment and the excess.

Under The Skin, 11.10pm, Film4, Tuesday, June 28

Jennie Kermode writes: There are hundreds of films out there about aliens arriving on Earth, but how many of them do feel just that - alien? Filmed in and around Glasgow with a tiny, almost entirely amateur, cast, Jonathan Glazer's inventive and poignant science fiction tale presents us with a creature whose differentness is unfathomable, a predator who consumes human bodies in a manner that defies logic yet becomes believable. The real trick, however, lies in the way he persuades us to empathise with this creature as it slowly finds itself empathising with the people around it, identifying with them to a degree that could be fatal. Scarlett Johansson is a picture of alienation in the lead and her interactions with Glaswegians who didn't even know they were being filmed lend an almost documentary quality to something which, elsewhere, is very much in art film territory. Constantly shifting in its sympathies and sometimes coruscatingly bleak, it benefits from some stunning cinematography by Daniel Landin as we move out of the city and into remote spaces where nothing can be taken for granted. Read what Glazer and co-production said about the film here.

Marie Antoinette, 6.40pm, Wednesday, June 29

Jennie Kermode writes: Perfumed and powdered and frosted with sugar, Sofia Coppola’s take on the life of France’s most famous doomed queen at first seems to be all confection but gradually reveals an astute self-awareness. Kirsten Dunst plays the woman herself, shuttled across a border and into a political marriage like a soulless objet d’art but gradually discovering that she can build a life for herself amidst all the excess. The real world seems distant, meaning almost out of grasp, and Coppola never quite lets us see the real affection she has for her incidental husband until it’s too late.

A Fistful Of Dollars, 9pm, ITV4, Wednesday, June 29

Some films are worth revisiting no matter how many times you've seen them before - and Sergio Leone's first part of his Dollars Trilogy certainly goes the distance. He might have borrowed the plot from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, but the Italian director had no problem putting his own stylish stamp on it, with his soon-to-be trademark meaty facial close-ups and impressive set-pieces. The script is pared back in favour of action - with Clint Eastwood reportedly fighting for ever fewer lines - as Eastwood's Man With No Name goes about the business of dispatching two feuding families. All this, plus, of course, that iconic score from Ennio Morricone, that you're probably whistling to yourself even as you read this.

Widows, Netflix, from Thursday, June 30

The original of Lynda La Plante's Eighties telly hit about women who decide to pull off their husbands' heist is currently running on Talking Pictures TV - and you can catch episode three at 2am on Sunday. Steve McQueen brings the story bang up to date, while transporting the action from Britain to Chicago. The result is a gritty thriller that underpins its genre elements with plenty of commentary on race, class and misogyny. McQueen balances the film's heist element with character-driven narrative concerning the way the women - and, indeed, most of the city - are trapped by circumstance, asking whether they can change sufficiently to beat the odds. The emotional heft of the film is brought home by the water-tight cast, including Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki, though it's Cynthia Ervio's physical and intense performance that proves to be the highlight.

Dunkirk, BBC2, 9pm, Sunday, July 3

There's tension of a different kind in Christopher Nolan's taut consideration of the World War II battle and rescue. His approach is visceral and immediate, plunging us into the experience of the soldiers on the frontline. The story is told through a trio of perspectives - the land tale of soldiers stuck on the ground (including Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles and Aneurin Barnard), the sea-based story of the small boats sent to rescue them (with Mark Rylance and Barry Keoghan on point) and an air-based narrative about a pair of fighter pilots (Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden) - which gradually coalesce to reveal the big picture. Gripping from the off, Nolan captures the horrors of war not just in the heat of battle but in its weary, fearful silences as the lives of the servicemen hang in the balance. If you aren't shaken by the visuals then the sound design and Hans Zimmer's hefty score will certainly do the trick.

Custody, 1.30am, Monday, July 4

While I may not have given this film the most glowing review on its release, I feel it's only fair to include it this week, while noting that my reservations about whether it is a bit overstretched at feature length are in the minority, as it snagged both the best film and best director prize in Venice. Xavier Legrand's film focuses on the custody battle between Miriam (Lea Drucker) and her violent husband Antoine (Denis Ménochet) over their 11-year-old son  Julien (Thomas Gioria). If the subsidiary characters, arguably, could do with more depth, Legrand has no problem in generating and sustaining the tension thanks in no small part to Ménochet's menacing central turn and Gioria, whose body language screams with stress when he's around his dad. Legrand told us he wanted to make "a Greek tragedy for our times" and you can read our full interview with him here. Our short this week is Ed Perkins' hard-hitting Oscar-nominated short documentary Black Sheep.

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