Pick of the week
Sunday 24 October, 10.45pm, BBC Two
This remarkable 2018 film sees American YouTube comedy star turned writer-director Bo Burnham delve into the mind of a 13-year-old girl, resulting in a drama of gentle wit and devastating emotion. Elsie Fisher is a revelation as Kayla, who is coming to the end of her final term at middle school. She makes peppy motivational videos (which no one “likes”) but in person is anxious and friendless, voted “most quiet” in her year. Her route through these difficult times encompasses the sheer terror of attending a popular classmate’s pool party and the simple thrill of hanging out in the mall with the high-school kids; her dad (Josh Hamilton) a daffy but reassuring presence in the background.
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Sunday 24 October, 9pm, Horror Channel
David Cronenberg was on a roll in the 80s, with this 1988 film following The Fly in bringing his hitherto niche style of body horror to a wider audience. The story about identical twin gynaecologists (an outstanding double performance by Jeremy Irons) provides him with ample opportunity for anatomising humans’ obsession with our imperfect physical state. Brothers Elliot and Beverly Mantle share careers and, secretly, women, until Geneviève Bujold’s infertile patient turns up and Beverly becomes dangerously infatuated with her. Gruesome but compelling.
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A Private Function
Sunday 24 October, 10.05pm, Talking Pictures TV
Alan Bennett draws the universal from the parochial in his own inimitable fashion in this delicious comedy, directed and co-written by Malcolm Mowbray. In a northern English town in 1947, postwar food rationing is still in force, but the imminent wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip inspires the town luminaries to secretly fatten up a pig for a party. Michael Palin’s meek chiropodist is pushed into stealing the illicit porker by his social-climbing wife (Maggie Smith) in a farce topped with the crackling of social critique.
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The Girl With a Pistol
Tuesday 26 October, 10.45pm, Talking Pictures TV
If you’ve been hankering to see Michelangelo Antonioni’s favourite actor team up with Alf Garnett’s son-in-law then this 1968 caper is the film for you. Mario Moncelli, a successful purveyor of commedia all’italiana, cast Monica Vitti as Assunta, a vengeful young Sicilian woman in Britain on the hunt for the man who seduced and then dishonoured her. Tony Booth’s Sheffield engineer is among her brief encounters as she travels from Edinburgh to Brighton, through a series of fascinatingly dated, swinging 60s culture shocks.
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Don’t Look Now
Thursday 28 October, 9pm, BBC Four
Adapted from a Daphne du Maurier short story, Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 supernatural chiller is a densely layered masterpiece, from its red palette and water symbolism to the fragmented scene of love-making with stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. After their daughter accidentally drowns, grieving architect John and wife Laura go to out-of-season Venice for work, where a psychic tells them their child is trying to get in touch. John dismisses the idea but mysterious events begin to unsettle him.
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Thursday 28 October, 12.15pm, 10.15pm, Sky Cinema Greats
Returning to themes from his earlier film The Devil’s Backbone, Guillermo del Toro set his boldly imaginative 2006 fantasy at the end of the Spanish civil war. The fascists have won but there are resistance cells in the forests, so the sadistic Captain Vidal (Sergí Lopez) takes pregnant wife Carmen (Ariadna Gill) and stepdaughter Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) off with him on manoeuvres. Ofelia’s escape into fairytale collides with bloody reality as she meets a faun (Doug Jones) who, believing her a lost princess, sets her a series of tasks to prove her non-human nature.
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Friday 29 October, 11.25pm, BBC One
Between Seven and Mindhunter, David Fincher’s interest in serial killers led him to an unresolved case from the San Francisco area in the late-60s. Jake Gyllenhaal plays cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who becomes obsessed with the Zodiac killer case when encrypted messages are sent to his newspaper by the murderer. Alongside reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr) and cop Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), Graysmith tries to eke out the clues to his identity. It’s a slow-burning yet gripping tale of tension and frustration, with the hard-won smack of reality.