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Atlas to Close: the seven best films to watch on TV this week
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Atlas to Close: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Pick of the week


Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele in Close.View image in fullscreen

Belgian director Lukas Dhont’s heartbreaker of a drama captures that time in a child’s life when they are starting to formulate adult emotions but can’t (or won’t) articulate what they are feeling. Thirteen-year-olds Léo and Rémi (Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele, both exceptional) are the best of friends – running around, riding their bikes, having sleepovers. But when they move up to secondary school, their closeness becomes a topic of gossip among their peers – and the more outgoing Léo begins to distance himself from Rémi. The tragic outcome of this barely acknowledged decision hits hard, as the long tail of grief and guilt affects children and parents alike.
Saturday 25 May, 9pm, BBC Four


Atlas.View image in fullscreen

The main takeaway from this sci-fi actioner is that there is good AI and there is bad AI. For Jennifer Lopez’s misanthropic scientist Atlas Shepherd there’s only the latter, especially after Harlan (Simu Liu) – the smart robot created decades earlier by her mother – gets a mind of his own and decides to wipe out humanity. She joins a mission to the Andromeda galaxy to stop him but is forced to sync neurally with her armoured suit’s affable AI in the process. The visuals are splendid and Lopez is an enjoyably grumpy boffin in a film where entertainment wins out over ethical debate.
Out now, Netflix

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys.View image in fullscreen

It is a well-covered story, and Brian Wilson’s sad history has been more effectively dealt with elsewhere, but Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny’s documentary does a fine job of pulling together the threads of the Beach Boys’ rise to pop stardom. Driven on by musical prodigy Brian, the band of brothers – and a cousin – sold the California dream of surf and sun to the world, but changing cultural tastes and Brian’s mental health problems pushed them off their pedestal. The surviving members offer a glimpse into life in one of the few bands to challenge the Beatles’ supremacy.
Out now, Disney+

Man of the West

Gary Cooper and Jack Lord in Man of the West.View image in fullscreen

Anthony Mann was the master of the psychological western, where the principal battle was in the mind of the protagonist rather than with the baddy. His 1958 film puts Gary Cooper through the wringer as Link, a man taking a train to Fort Worth to hire a teacher for his rural town. But his violent past comes back to torment him in the shape of old bank robber mentor Dock (Lee J Cobb). Fellow passengers, singer Billie (Julie London) and wheeler-dealer Sam (Arthur O’Connell), get caught in the messy crossfire as Link desperately seeks a way out.
Saturday 25 May, 6.50pm, Great! Action

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John David Washington in Tenet.View image in fullscreen

Two quotes from Christopher Nolan’s time-flipping 2020 thriller sum it up neatly: “Don’t try to understand it, feel it” and “Does your head hurt yet?” Just go with the flow and you’ll have a fun time negotiating his drama of high-tech espionage and war, as John David Washington’s US agent tries to foil Russian criminal Sator (Kenneth Branagh) and his backers from the future in their plot to rewrite the present. The play-rewind-replay of heists, fights and car chases is stupifying but exhilarating.
Sunday 26 May, 10pm, BBC Two


Kai Luke Brümmer as Nicholas in Moffie.View image in fullscreen

It’s 1981 and white South African teenager Nicholas (Kai Luke Brümmer) is conscripted into the army to fight on the Angola border. He’s English-speaking, which sets him apart from many of his fellow trainees and his sadistic Afrikaans sergeant, but he’s also secretly gay, a punishable offence. Although Oliver Hermanus’s drama doesn’t feature many Black characters, there’s a clear equivalence between the homophobia and racism of the apartheid regime. In a film of tension and brutality there are snatched moments of tenderness, as Nicholas charts a middle course between self-worth and survival.
Tuesday 28 May, 1.55am, Channel 4


Conor McCarron as John in Neds.View image in fullscreen

Actor Peter Mullan’s outings in the director’s chair have been few, but on the evidence of Orphans, The Magdelene Sisters and this rough, tough 2010 film – all of which he also wrote – he should get back into it. Neds is a bleak coming-of-age story set in 1970s Glasgow, where educationally gifted working-class boy John (Conor McCarron) is protected from violence by his elder brother Benny’s hardman reputation. However, inevitably and fatefully, the thrill of the gang life draws him in, offering a twisted kind of respite from his oppressive domestic existence.
Thursday 30 May, 1.20am, Film4

Source: theguardian.com