Blonde to Harriet: the seven best films to watch on TV this week | Television & radio

Street smart … Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop.


Pick of the week

Blonde

A near three-hour visit to the cinematic equivalent of the psychoanalyst’s couch, Andrew Dominik’s biopic of Norma Jeane Baker, AKA Marilyn Monroe, comes trailing controversy. It’s an explicit, sometimes brutal look at the creation and exploitation of a film icon, and the terrible personal cost paid by her in the process. Adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’s hefty novel, the film sweeps stylishly around Monroe’s life, connecting the dots that led to tragedy. Ana de Armas plays Monroe with a commitment to the emotional extremes and a high degree of accuracy, while Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale feature as her husbands Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio.
Wednesday 28 September, Netflix


Beverly Hills Cop

Street smart … Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop.
Wisecracking … Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. Photograph: Paramount/Allstar

This 1984 comedy thriller was Eddie Murphy’s first solo lead role, and what a blast it is. His Detroit police detective, Axel Foley, has the street smarts and wisecracks we’d come to expect from Murphy after 48 Hrs and Trading Places. But the fish-out-of-water plot – Foley comes to swanky LA off the clock to investigate a friend’s murder, roping in two local cops (Judge Reinhold and John Ashton) to help – gives him the chance to cause chaos in entertaining new ways. The two sequels follow straight after.
Saturday 24 September, 6am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Greats


The Offence

His dark materiel … Sean Connery as Detective Sergeant Johnson in The Offence.
His dark material … Sean Connery as Detective Sergeant Johnson in The Offence. Photograph: United Artists/Allstar

In a role as far from James Bond’s insouciance in the face of violence as is possible, Sean Connery excels as a police officer whose hunt for a child sex offender tips him over the edge. Sidney Lumet’s 1973 noirish drama is set in a damp, grey Britain where trauma about past cases draws DS Johnson (Connery) into intense confrontations with his wife, his boss and the chief suspect (Ian Bannen). The latter brings out unsettling intimations of Johnson’s own repressed desires, sharpened by Harrison Birtwistle’s alienating, atonal score.
Saturday 24 September, 11pm, Talking Pictures TV


The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Free spirit … Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
Free spirit … Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Photograph: Landmark Media/Alamy

Questions about how you define home, and belonging, suffuse Joe Talbot’s quirky drama. It’s partly based on the life of his friend Jimmie Fails, who plays a version of himself as a rootless spirit. He’s staying with his best mate, would-be playwright Mont (Jonathan Majors) but is drawn back to the lovely, large house built in 1946 by his grandfather – though it’s now in a sought-after white neighbourhood. In the absence of his neglectful parents, Jimmie pours his love into the building, to the point of squatting in it when it becomes vacant.
Sunday 25 Deptember, 1opm, BBC Two


The Gift

Rebecca Hall, Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton in The Gift.
Third wheel … Rebecca Hall, Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton in The Gift. Photograph: Matt Kennedy/Universal Pictures/Allstar

Actor Joel Edgerton proved a dab hand at writing and directing with this 2015 psychological thriller. He plays Gordo, who nudges his way into the lives of an old school contemporary, successful alpha male Simon (Jason Bateman), and his wife, Robyn (Rebecca Hall), after they move to LA. With the oddball Gordo’s interest in them bordering on the intrusive, if not pathological, Simon is determined to keep him out, in a film that cleverly teases us with the obvious before sidling down more interesting avenues.
Tuesday 27 September, 9pm, Great! Movies


Harriet

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet.
Fighting for freedom … Cynthia Erivo in Harriet. Photograph: Focus Features/Allstar

It’s remarkable that it took until 2019 for the life of 19th-century American abolitionist Harriet Tubman to make it to film, as she packed enough into it for several. Director Kasi Lemmons and star Cynthia Erivo make fine work of telling her story – from her escape from slavery in Maryland to freedom in Philadelphia to joining the “underground railroad”, which rescued many, many others, including her own family. Erivo is a force of nature as Tubman, whose visionary fits (the film errs on the side of God-given rather than due to a head injury) inspire her mission.
Wednesday 28 September, 10.40pm, BBC One


Daphne

Navigating life … Emily Beecham in Daphne.
Navigating life … Emily Beecham in Daphne. Photograph: Altitude Film Entertainment/Allstar

A nimble performance from Emily Beecham is at the heart of Peter Mackie Burns’s big city drama. Her titular 31-year-old character drifts through life in London in a series of casual hookups, nights out with sort-of friends and unsatisfying shifts in a restaurant kitchen. Her desire to forge her own path – possibly as a chef – appears too weak to act on, until she witnesses a violent incident and begins to stumble off-centre. It’s a film of cumulative impact, with Beecham’s Daphne believably at sea but never melodramatically so.
Thursday 29 September, 2am, Film4



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