BlackkKlansman Photo: David Lee/Focus Features
BlacKkKlansman, 11.05pm, Film4, Monday, November 6
Spike Lee's Cannes Grand Prix winner was inspired by the unlikely true tale of an African American police officer (John David Washington) who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, with the help of his white Jewish colleague (Adam Driver). This isn't just a period satire but a commentary on the racism that still exists in society. Lee's message may be delivered with humour but it's no less of a stinging indictment on the state of the world for that. Read what Spike Lee said about the film in Cannes.
The Big Sick, 10pm, BBC3, Tuesday, November 7
Real-life comedy couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon based this tale of a culture-clash relationship upon their unconventional courtship – a romance that began with Gordon heckling stand-up Nanjiani from the crowd. He is Muslim, with a family dead set on arranging marriage for him, but the film opens out from familiar culture-clash territory when Emily becomes very ill. Suddenly, with Emily in a coma, Kumail finds himself having to woo her parents – played with sharp timing and verve by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano – who are armed with the complete playbook on the pair’s relationship so far. Although the film meanders a bit, the story, no doubt because it is rooted in truth, feels original and the humour and emotion hit home in all the right places.
Hit The Road, 11.25pm, Film4, Tuesday, November 7
Panah Panahi's hug of a debut film was undoubtedly one of the best of 2021. The son of director Jafar Panahi invites us to clamber aboard and enjoyably chaotic road trip with dad (Hassan Madjooni), mum, their older son (Amin Simiar) and their irrepressibly exuberant youngest child (Rayan Sarlak), while his wife (Pantea Panahiha). Although the reason for the journey is only gradually revealed, there are hints that this is a lot more serious at heart than a holiday trip. Little Sarlak’s fizzing energy drives the film, whether he’s ghting with his mum over the mobile phone he smuggled along or quizzing a cyclist who hitches a lift. Panahi handles the film’s mood with care so that all the messy goings on of a family are preserved. As with life things can be light and melancholy at the same time when you’re trying to keep the mood light for a younger sibling who can’t fully grasp what’s going on. Frequently poignant, often hilarious, you never know what emotion will catch you next, but each one is immersive when it does.
Kes, 1.20am, Film4, Wednesday, November 8
A heartbreaker that is accessible for multiple generations, Ken Loach's adaptation of the tale of a working class lad and his pet falcon has stood the test of time. All the hallmarks of Loach are here in his social-realist rendering of a story that sees young Billy (David Bradley) find escape through nature, in sharp contrast to the grind of his everyday life. While the climax is sobering it is also a call to arms for workers everywhere. Beyond the central performance of Bradley, Freddie Fletcher also puts in excellent work as his half-brother Jud, while the late-great Brian Glover excels as the epitome of everyone's most hated PE teacher.
1917, 10.40pm, BBC1, Wednesday, November 8
It may not have really been made in a single take but Sam Mendes First World War trench drama - shot with precision by Roger Deakens - certainly feels that way in terms of tension as two young soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) try to stay alive as they cross no-man's land with a vital letter. Built as much on character as incident, MacKay and Chapman strike the perfect balance of vulnerability and pluck. They're aided by a string of stars who crop up in smaller roles, including Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard Madden.
Pan’s Labyrinth, 11.05pm, BBC2, Friday, November 10
Jennie Kermode writes: When Franco’s fascists dominated Spain in 1944, many others went into hiding. Perhaps they weren’t all human. Guillermo del Toro’s haunting fable balances perfectly in that ambiguous space between fantasy and metaphor, tragedy and triumph as it tells the story of young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a girl whose mother has married a cruel commander. Relocated to a wooded area where his troops are trying to break down guerrilla resistance, she takes refuge in a world which may or may not be real and makes a pact with a faun, agreeing to complete a series of tasks. The rules by which these are governed abide closely by European folkloric tradition, but it’s no small thing for a hungry girl to resist eating on the other side, and Ofelia soon finds that there are dangers whichever way she turns. The performances here are superb and the visual wonder of the film stems not just from its spectacularly detailed otherworld but from the way Del Toro finds magic in the forest which anyone might glimpse if they really cared to look.
We’re finishing up with a family double-bill this week with Jake Kasdan's pair of enjoyable adventure romps. The Robin Williams original was much loved but the reboot captures a lot of its spirit, mixing action set pieces with body-swap comedy as four high school kids (Madison Iseman, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner and Ser'Darius Blaine) find themselves trapped inside the jungle of a video game. The adult stars - the avatars the kids have chosen to be in the game - have enormous fun channelling the spirit of the teens, with The Rock embodying a nerdy gamer, the diminutive Kevin Hart representing a beefy football star, Karen Gillan’s Ruby Roundhouse taking on the personality of an introvert and Jack Black personifying a vain teen queen. The equally likeable sequel offers a lot more of the same, although this time they’re joined by Spencer's grandad Eddie and Eddie's estranged buddy Milo (played by Dannys DeVito and Glover in the real world). There’s a switch in the swap, as Eddie finds 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. The comedy may be broad but these also offer broad family appeal, and the sequel also comes with a poignant kick about the older guys getting a new lease of life.
This week's short selection is Felix Massie's animated short Keith Reynolds Can't Make It Tonight
And you can find other shorts by him on his Youtube page.