Choice of the week
The king’s man
The first of Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman movies was an unexpected treat; a big, fun and surprisingly moving Marvel-does-Bond roller coaster. Interest waned, however, with 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a film so inconsistent it looked like it was put together at high speed by idiots. The latest offering, The King’s Man, is something of a soft reset. It’s a prequel, retracing Ralph Fiennes’ Zelig-style journey through the events leading up to World War I. There’s a lot of fun spotting all the real-life historical figures dotting the chaos – Rhys Ifans, for his part, seems to be having the time of his life as Rasputin. A ridiculous sequel to Kingsman vs. Hitler awaits.
Wednesday, February 9, Disney+
Michael Mann’s 2004 thriller deserves credit not just for its pioneering cinematography – shot overwhelmingly digitally before the technology was perfected, Collateral has a gritty, pixelated immediacy – but for the thermite performance heated to White by Tom Cruise. As hitman Vincent, tasked with forcing nervous taxi driver Jamie Foxx to drive him around Los Angeles for a night, it’s Cruise who uses his intensity for harm rather than good for once. His shark-like evil stands in stark contrast to the sleepless, sleepless sprawl of the city around him.
Saturday February 5, 10:35 p.m., ITV
Sorry to have missed you
Ken Loach’s most recent film came out in 2019, before the pandemic hit, but only seems to have gained traction in the years since. One of his angst films in decades, it depicts the dire working conditions inflicted on professional delivery drivers: zero-hour contracts, high rental fees, no insurance. The toll of all this on Kris Hitchen’s lead character is abysmal. Can a project like this change the employment policies of a notoriously sloppy industry? Probably not. But once seen, you’ll never take a delivery driver for granted again.
Sunday February 6, 10 p.m., BBC Two
you are next
Thanks to the commercial success of Godzilla against Kong last year, Adam Wingard now has his feet under the Hollywood table. But whatever he chooses to do next is unlikely to improve the panache of his 2011 hit You’re Next. The joy of this cheap and dirty slasher flick is how lightly it carries its premise. In other hands, a story like this — about intruders wearing animal masks who systematically attack a group of semi-sympathetic victims — would be a gruesome mush of a thing. Wingard, however, fills the film with endless wit, dark humor, and wild invention. Beautiful.
Monday, February 7, 9 p.m., Horror Channel
The pit and the pendulum
While not one for Edgar Allan Poe purists, there’s still a surprising amount of fun to be had with Roger Corman’s 1961 adaptation. At its center is a messy turn of Vincent Price as that crazy owner of a castle with a torture device in his basement. The whole performance is a long I-can’t-believe-they-let-me-do-this wink at the audience, but the magic thing is that it stops just short of undermining the scares. When this film is at attention, it has moments of pure terror.
Friday, February 11, 9 p.m., Talking Pictures TV
A new film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet deserves to be celebrated in the streets. His last film, The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet, was released almost ten years ago. Micmacs, his most recent film in his native French, was released in the 2000s. Jeunet’s long-awaited comeback vehicle, released via Netflix, is Bigbug. A film set in the future, Bigbug is perhaps best described as Tim Burton doing The Terminator. The Yonyx, a race of AI designed to help humanity, go rogue and declare humanity superfluous. If you can handle the heavy dose of fantasy, it’s a winner.
Friday, February 11, Netflix
I want you to come back
Just when you thought the romantic comedy was dead, Amazon comes out with a really big defibrillator. Charlie Day and Jenny Slate play two strangers who find themselves dumped at exactly the same time. Together, they hatch a plan: team up and destroy their exes’ new relationships, like strangers on a train, so they can win them back. How will this end? You can probably solve it. But rom-coms live or die on the likability of their leads, and I Want You Back benefits from the bubbly unpredictability of Day and Slate. Are they the new Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? May be.
Friday, February 11, Amazon Prime Video