Stay-At-Home Seven - March 25 to 31

Films to watch on telly or stream this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, directed by Terry Jones
Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, directed by Terry Jones

Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life, 9pm, ITV4, Tuesday, March 26

Not really a film as such but rather a collection of sketches, loosely linked by shuffling in, about and off this mortal coil. As you might expect, that means the end result is a little bit hit and miss - and one or two sections haven't dated so well either - but there's plenty here to amuse fans of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin. Among the more enjoyable moments are satirical musical number Every Sperm is Sacred and the unforgettable dining experience of Mr Creosote, which certainly goes with a bang. It was in competition in Cannes in 1983 where it, perhaps surprisingly, took home the Grand Prix. Just go easy on the wafer-thin mints...

Cat Person, Netflix, from Wednesday, March 27

This adaptation of the viral New Yorker story about a student's flirtation with an older man is so good in the middle that I'm going to recommend it this week even though the ending leaves quite a bit to be desired - but note that your mileage may vary. Margot (Emilia Jones) works at the concessions stand of a cinema and that's where she meets the older Robert (Nicholas Braun) and embarks on the modern equivalent of an epistolary romance, via text message, as she goes to visit her parents. Her romantic fantasies feel on shakier ground when she returns to the city, however, with her imagination now conjuring up a much darker set of motivations for Robert. At its best when it's ambiguous, the film is also notable for the support from Isabella Rossellini, who has been making her presence felt in a number of smaller roles lately, including in La Chimera and Spaceman. Read our interview with director Susanna Fogel.

The Rider, 1.35am, Film4, Wednesday, March 27

Before Chloé Zhao started winning just about every award going with Nomadland, she made this lovely low-key character study of young rodeo star Brady (Brady Jandreau) who is facing up to major life changes after an accident. The sense of authenticity is bolstered by her nonprofessional cast, who feel like an organic part of the landscape. The Rider achieves its poignancy in small moments, the comfort of family – embodied by Brady's sister Lilly (Jandreau's real-life sister), who is on the autistic spectrum – and friendship, as we see his badly hurt pal Lane (Lane Scott) endure the rigours of rehabilitation. Immersive and moving, read what Jandreau and Zhao told us about the film in our interviews about autism and training horses, and the film's other themes.

Stand By Me, 9pm, Film4, Thursday, March 28

Rob Reiner's moving drama of friendship in small-town America has lost none of its charm in the 30 or so years since Raynold Gideon did what many have failed to do and successfully adapted a Stephen King novella. This resultant coming-of-age drama is one of that small subset of films that is about children but not for them as it explores the emotions that come to light when a group of kids set out to look for a missing boy's body. The performances – from Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland and River Phoenix among others – never miss an emotional beat. Make sure you have a box of tissues to hand, even if you've seen this before.

Trainspotting, 10.45pm, Film4, Thursday. March 28

Danny Boyle's films come at you at the gallop and this blackly comic drama is no exception, starting as it means to go on with Renton (Ewan McGregor) legging it up Princes Street in Edinburgh. Adapted from Irvine Welsh's cult novel, this film about the lives of a group of heroin addicts in the Scottish capital made household names of then youngish stars Robert Carlyle – rarely more scary than is here – McGregor, Kelly Macdonald and the rest. Boyle's brutal bounce has lost little of its impact with the passing of the years. Looking for something to watch? As Renton might say: "Choose this".

Kung Fu Panda, 12.30pm, Channel 4, Good Friday

Everyone's favourite roly-poly panda is back in cinemas on March 28 and you could do a lot worse than sit down with the kids this bank holiday to watch his original adventure. Po (voiced to perfection by Jack Black) is the last animal on Earth you'd think of when it comes to being a "legendary dragon warrior" and the writers of this enjoyable family tale exploit that to the comedy max. Slapstick humour is mixed with some neatly animated martial arts action as Po finds himself with his new buddies Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Monkey (Jackie Chan) on the trail of the brutal snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane), who has escaped from a maximum security prison and is out for blood. Sweet without being saccharine, there's also some lovely supporting performances, including from Dustin Hoffman as trainer Master Shifu.

Inside Man, 9pm, Easter Sunday, Film4

Jennie Kermode writes: There are heist films about action and heist films about emotion, and then there are heist films set out as puzzles. Spike Lee uses elements of the first two to present the finest example of the latter yet made. We enter it after the bank vault has been breached, after the hostages have been released, yet nobody seems able to discover who the perpetrators were – nor quite what it was that they took. Most of the story plays out in flashback en route to a beautifully realised final twist. Lee dazzles the eye like a master magician so that even after you've watched the film several times you'll find it hard to catch everything, but it's all there, immaculately worked out, not just in terms of what happens inside the bank but also the complex interactions taking place on the outside. Most importantly, he makes room for character development within all this. Both on superb form, Denzel Washington and Clive Owen create one of those detective/master criminal conflicts that ultimately brings them closer to each other than to anyone else.

It's a bit longer than most of the shorts we recommend - but it's a bank holiday weekend coming up so perhaps you've a little more time on your hands. If so, kick back and enjoy White Mane, by Albert Lamorisse, who went on to make the more famous The Red Balloon.

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