Pick of the week
King Richard’s reputation will forever be undermined by the events of this year’s Oscars. After all, Will Smith won a best actor trophy for his role in this film, only to spend much of his acceptance speech apologising for assaulting Chris Rock live onstage moments earlier. This is a shame, because King Richard deserves far better than that. A biopic of Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis champions Venus and Serena, it’s a bright-burning character portrait of a man who will do whatever it takes to give his daughters the best possible chance in life. It has heart by the bucketload, and this is how it should be remembered.
Saturday 2 July, 7.15am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
Dexter Fletcher’s Elton John biopic is everything Bohemian Rhapsody should have been. Rather than a drab, filmed Wikipedia page as dictated by the artist, this is a kaleidoscopic rush. We see Elton John’s life with all its ups and downs, but we also get giddy flights of fantasy. Like the subject himself, the film is a complicated mix – at once obsessed with myth-making and averse to sentimentalism – but Taron Egerton is such a force of nature you accept everything. The standard by which all future music biopics should be measured.
Saturday 2 July, 9.30pm, Channel 4
Finding Your Feet
Richard Loncraine’s 2017 comedy is a lovely thing. Cast to perfection, it stars Imelda Staunton as a wealthy woman forced to move to a council estate after she discovers her husband’s affair. She moves in with her sister (Celia Imrie), makes new friends (Joanna Lumley and David Hayman) and falls in love with a married man (Timothy Spall). Films that rely heavily on older British stars can feel smug. What’s so great about this is that it feels grounded in reality. None of the characters are especially happy, but there is a heartwarming dignity to watching them muddle through.
Sunday 3 July, 7pm, Channel 4
It says a lot about Christopher Nolan’s fondness for challenging audiences that Dunkirk is often held up as his most accessible film. Because, for all the steely-jawed heroism and blasts of Elgar on display here, it is still bracingly tricksy. Three timelines fight for attention: British soldiers stranded on a beach for a week, small boats spending a day coming to their rescue, and a Spitfire raid that takes an hour. That these stories can play out at the same time, heightening the drama while still making chronological sense, is nothing short of magic.
Sunday 3 July, 9pm, BBC Two
If you’ve been trying to follow the deliberately incomprehensible series of the same name (a fool’s errand, by the way), here’s a chance to use the original film as a palate cleanser. It’s a much simpler affair – there’s a theme park filled with robot cowboys, and one of them starts trying to kill everyone – with a premise that Michael Crichton would explore with much more elan in Jurassic Park. It’s a fun, low-stakes B-movie that understands exactly how silly something like this should be.
Monday 4 July, 11.15pm, TCM
To Die For
Gus Van Sant’s dark 1995 comedy remains remarkable, not just for its star-making abilities (Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix were both relatively unknown when it was made), but because of how neatly it predicted the age of social media. Kidman plays Suzanne Stone, a woman who – thanks to her desire for fame at any cost – seduces some teenagers and convinces them to murder her husband. Her character drips with such narcissism you can’t help but feel she’d be massive on TikTok these days. The best, and most beguiling, role of Kidman’s career.
Thursday 7 July, 12.55am, Talking Pictures TV
The “what if Superman was evil?” trope has been done to death lately, thanks to The Boys, Invincible and a handful of actual Superman movies. But nothing has interrogated the premise quite like 2019’s Brightburn. Produced by James Gunn, it features plenty of beats that will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in Superman (an alien child crashlands on Earth, the couple who discover him choose to raise him), except everything is played for horror. The boy quickly becomes a monster, and an unstoppable one at that. And, really, isn’t that the more realistic outcome?
Friday 8 July, 11.05pm, Film4