Pick of the week
Letitia Wright is currently the focus of attention due to her central role in Marvel’s action behemoth Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Her delicate performance in Frank Berry’s social realist drama, however, finds the same gravitas in the quotidian and intimate. Aisha (Wright) is a Nigerian asylum seeker who has been in Ireland a year pending a decision on her case. The limbo she’s in has led her to bury trauma, and the strain is starting to show. A tentative connection with security guard Conor (Josh O’Connor) is a release, but the system she’s caught up in militates against commitment – or hope. A film Ken Loach would be proud of, Aisha is forceful and moving.
Saturday 19 November, 12.45pm, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
The Ghost of Richard Harris
The Irish actor casts a long shadow, hence the title of Adrian Sibley’s insightful documentary profile. It’s obvious in the reminiscences by his three sons (all in the business: two actors and a director) as they pick through his possessions or, in Jared’s case, stay in the Savoy hotel suite Richard kept for 28 years. A fascinating character – “hellraiser” is the description most often used here by those who knew him – Harris came to fame in the angry young men crowd, made it big in Hollywood and became an unlikely pop star. A life lived to excess, but with few regrets.
Saturday 19 November, 9pm, Sky Arts
Ben Whishaw gives a mesmerising performance in this relentless close-up drama about an airport security officer going off the rails. Friendless, joyless and withdrawn, Joseph snaps one day at work and has what appears to be a manic episode – beginning with chewing a glass and descending swiftly into bank robbery. From coiled and cowed to giddy and impetuous, a brilliant Whishaw runs the gamut of emotions in a debut feature by Oscar short film winner Aneil Karia that puts us right up in Joseph’s face as his sense of identity is smashed up and rearranged.
Sunday 20 November, 10pm, BBC Two
Yet more football-related content linked to the World Cup, but this has the stamp of quality as it’s by Asif Kapadia, the director of those fine documentary profiles Senna and Amy. Facing a life of more incident than most to cover, Kapadia focuses largely on the Argentinian’s time playing for the looked-down-upon Napoli, whom he helped win their first ever league title and then went on to lift the World Cup. With a wealth of unseen footage, it’s a fascinating cautionary tale of a man hitting the heights and plunging to the depths, sometimes simultaneously.
Sunday 20 November, 12.10am, More4
Echoes of La Haine – and, more obliquely, Victor Hugo’s novel – abound in this Cannes prize winner from Ladj Ly, a tense 2019 crime drama inspired by the 2005 Paris riots. In a poor suburb, cop Stéphane (Damien Bonnard) joins a crime street unit, aimless kids are tugged between faith and mischief, and the theft of a lion cub by rebellious teenager Issa (Issa Perica) lights the fuse on anti-police resentments. In Ly’s nuanced, authentic debut feature, everyone has their reasons.
Wednesday 23 November, 11.55pm, Film4
Good Night Oppy
Like a particularly glossy edition of Horizon, Ryan White’s engaging space documentary tells the story of the 2004 Mars exploration rovers, Spirit and Opportunity (AKA Oppy). They were designed to last 90 days but, in Oppy’s case, survived for 15 years. It talks to the Nasa team who built them, blasted them off to the red planet then tended to them as they pootled around digging in craters, withstanding dust storms and malfunctioning. With the robots’ anthropomorphic features and their creators’ increasingly emotional attitude towards them, WALL-E and R2-D2 spring to mind.
Wednesday 23 November, Prime Video
Alex Lehmann’s new film is less of a romcom and more of a romdram, as Kaley Cuoco’s suicidal Sheila uses a time machine to relive her perfect first date with Gary (Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson in straight-man mode) and stave off her despair. There are notes of Before Sunrise and It’s a Wonderful Life as the story shifts uneasily between black comedy and sadness. But you should really watch this for the immensely likable Cuoco – on a roll after The Flight Attendant – who brings a zesty, slightly acidic humour and chippy vulnerability to her character.
Friday 25 November, Prime Video