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Steve! (Martin) to Emily the Criminal: the seven best films to watch on TV this week
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Steve! (Martin) to Emily the Criminal: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Pick of the week

Steve! (Martin): a Documentary in 2 Pieces

Steve Martin has been in the public eye for so long as an actor, it’s a surprise to realise that, back in the late 70s, he was the first comic ever to sell out stadiums and earn platinum albums. Part one of Morgan Neville’s engrossing dive into Martin’s career traces his decade-long rise to fame, and illuminates just how odd his act was: a cross between a magic show, children’s entertainment and dadaist happening where laughing was optional – with Martin patiently waiting for the audience to catch up. And when they did, he quit to make movies. Part two shows us Martin now, riffing with best mate Martin Short and reminiscing about his art collection, banjo playing and hard-to-please father. Simon Wardell
Out now, Apple TV+

Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza in Emily the Criminal.View image in fullscreen

Whatever the quality of the film she’s in, Aubrey Plaza can be relied on to create characters that are edgy and unpredictable, even unlikable. In John Patton Ford’s debut feature, her Emily is a zero-hours food delivery driver whose assault conviction is a block on her artistic ambitions. Then she meets Youcef (Theo Rossi), who runs a credit card fraud operation, and lets herself be drawn into deeper, darker territory. Plaza is utterly convincing as a desperate woman becoming angrier and tougher as the choices she makes become ever more extreme. SW
Sunday 31 March, Netflix

On the Waterfront

Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.View image in fullscreen

With its grimy urban locations, punchy jazz score from Leonard Bernstein and cast full of Actors Studio alumni, Elia Kazan’s Oscar-laden 1954 drama has the smack of authentic New York life. Marlon Brando is convincingly downbeat as Terry Molloy, a boxer turned aimless dogsbody for corrupt union official Johnny Friendly (Lee J Cobb). But when a longshoreman about to give Johnny up to the crime commission is thrown off a roof, Terry develops a conscience – helped by the dead man’s sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint) and Karl Malden’s battling priest. SW
Saturday 30 March, 2.30pm, BBC Two


Tish Murtha.View image in fullscreen

It is a sad fact that some artists are only recognised after their death. Such is the case with Tish Murtha, an exceptional photographer who documented her working-class Newcastle world for years, but died unheralded in 2013 aged 56. Paul Sng, who made Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché, uses a similar setup to that film by getting Tish’s daughter, Ella, to tell the artist’s story. This ensures an access and intimacy that brings to life an uncompromising and often unsuccessful woman. But out of her hand-to-mouth struggle came images that ooze empathy and social awareness. SW
Monday 1 April, 9pm, BBC Four

Being John Malkovich

John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich.View image in fullscreen

The first, near-perfect union of writer Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze is a surreal satire on showbusiness, an exploration of gender identity and a cautionary tale about ambition. John Cusack is the puppeteer who discovers a portal into the head of John Malkovich – giving him the chance to experience the actor’s lofty life – with his office colleague (Catherine Keener) and wife (Cameron Diaz) helping and/or hindering the exploitation of his find.
Monday 1 April, 10.10pm, Sky Cinema Greats


Ariana DeBose in Wish.View image in fullscreen

“When you wish upon a star” basically gets its own origin story in this traditional-style musical animation, part of Disney’s centennial celebrations. Ariana DeBose voices teenager Asha, who lives in an island kingdom ruled by the sorcerer Magnifico (Chris Pine). His deal with the populace is that he’ll take their wishes away, which they’ll then forget, enabling them to get on with their simple lives. Occasionally, he’ll make a wish come true – but only on his terms. Asha rails against this and wishes on a star, which then comes to Earth to wreak magical havoc and liberate the people’s dreams.
Wednesday 3 April, Disney+

Girls State

Girls State.View image in fullscreen

Boys State was a fascinating 2020 documentary following an annual American Legion programme in which 17-year-old Texan boys spend a week creating a fictional state government and running a gubernatorial campaign. Now comes the female version, this time in Missouri, where the rumoured overturning of Roe v Wade adds a frisson to the coming together of a politically diverse group of engaged, articulate teenagers. Female empowerment is a central concern – especially when the boys creating their own state nearby seem to be getting more to do.
Friday 5 April, Apple TV+

Source: theguardian.com