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From Bette Midler in The Politician to The Great with Elle Fanning: The best on demand TV this week

NETFLIX

The Politician

From the creators of Glee and American Horror Story. Each season of this campy satire revolves around a political campaign by Payton Hobart (Ben Platt). In the first, he was a wealthy Californian high school student bidding to be elected president of his student body – a move he saw as an essential stepping stone on the way to becoming President of the US.

Season two of The Politician focuses on Payton’s fight to unseat Senate majority leader Dede Standish, who might be hiding a secret with the help of her chief of staff (Bette Midler, above)

At the end of that series he announced his intention to run for the New York State Senate. Season two focuses on his fight to unseat the Senate majority leader Dede Standish (Judith Light), who might be hiding a secret with the help of her chief of staff (Bette Midler). Unfortunately, Payton’s mother Georgina (Gwyneth Paltrow) isn’t helping. From Friday

 

Hereditary

The first full-length feature from Ari Aster, who went on to make Midsommar. This arthouse horror film about a family in the grip of a malign occult influence seemingly emanating from their recently deceased matriarch was hugely praised by critics, with one suggesting it was ‘this generation’s The Exorcist’. It’s really not on that level but horror fans will enjoy it and Toni Collette is excellent as the bewildered, bereaved mother at the centre of some extremely disturbing events. From Friday

 

Babies

In February, Netflix treated viewers to the opening six episodes of a documentary series focusing on the first 12 months of several babies born across the globe. Now it’s back with another half-dozen shows to delight and amaze. 

For this second run of the Netflix documentary, insights into how babies like Dakota (above, with parents Destiny and Shawn) make sense of the world take centre stage

For this second run of the Netflix documentary, insights into how babies like Dakota (above, with parents Destiny and Shawn) make sense of the world take centre stage

That first run was seen largely through the eyes of parents as they dealt with key moments such as their babies walking, talking and eating. This time, insights into how babies like Dakota make sense of the world and the nature-nurture debate take centre stage. From Friday

 

Wasp Network

French film-maker Olivier Assayas’ latest project is a drama based on Fernando Morais’ book The Last Soldiers Of The Cold War. It tells the incredible true story of a group of Cuban nationals who appeared to defect to the US during the 1990s. 

Edgar Ramírez (above, right) takes the lead role of Rene Gonzalez, a pilot who leaves his wife and child to risk his life by infiltrating an anti-Castro organisation in Wasp Network

Edgar Ramírez (above, right) takes the lead role of Rene Gonzalez, a pilot who leaves his wife and child to risk his life by infiltrating an anti-Castro organisation in Wasp Network

However, they were really spies who built up an intelligence network, sending back information about those trying to undermine Cuba’s communist regime. Penélope Cruz and Gael García Bernal are among the cast, but it’s Edgar Ramírez who takes the lead role of Rene Gonzalez, a pilot who leaves his wife and child to risk his life by infiltrating an anti-Castro organisation. From Friday

 

Lost Bullet

Don’t be floored by the name of the central character in this French-language sci-fi crime thriller (or cri-fi, as it’s been dubbed) – he really is called Lino. He’s an ace mechanic who specialises in building cars suitable for ram-raiding. However, his world crashes down around him when a heist goes horribly wrong.

Lino must join forces with a detective to avoid going to jail but subsequently finds himself in the frame for murder – and the only way to prove his innocence is to find the titular item, which is lodged in a missing car. From Friday

 

The Sinner

Season three of the compelling anthology crime drama looks set to be as nail-biting as its predecessors. Originally conceived as an eight-part adaptation of Petra Hammesfahr’s novel, it immediately hooked viewers with its unforgettable opening episode, which saw Jessica Biel’s mild-mannered Cora stab a man to death out of the blue while at the beach. 

The reasons why were slowly revealed thanks to the dogged investigations of Detective Harry Ambrose (an excellent Bill Pullman), who finds himself at the scene of a fatal car crash as season three begins. The surviving passenger, Jamie (Matt Bomer), claims it was a tragic accident, so it should be an open-and-shut case. But, as ever with this brilliantly unpredictable show, there is more to the story than meets the eye. From Friday

 

AMAZON 

The Great

A satirical drama about the rise of Catherine the Great that is, historically, wildly inaccurate. It’s also riotously entertaining. Think Blackadder but in Russia and with more sex and violence. The idealistic young Catherine (Elle Fanning) is unhappy with her dimwitted, depraved husband Peter III, Emperor of Russia (Nicholas Hoult). 

A satirical drama about the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning, above) that is, historically, wildly inaccurate. It’s also riotously entertaining

A satirical drama about the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning, above) that is, historically, wildly inaccurate. It’s also riotously entertaining

Peter is the sort of chap who gives his wife a fully grown tame bear as a present and then shoots it for fun. ‘I’m a prisoner here, married to an idiot,’ sighs Catherine. She wants to create a new, ‘progressive’ Russia, so she sets about plotting a coup. Creator Tony McNamara co-wrote the Oscar-winning Queen Anne comedy The Favourite – and here his tongue is once again firmly in cheek. Huzzah! Starzplay, from Thursday

 

LOL: Last One Laughing Australia

You might not have heard of the stand-ups on this show but their appearance on LOL: Last One Laughing Australia may turn them into household names. Hosted by Rebel Wilson, the series sees the Aussie comics go head-to-head in what is basically a competition to see who can keep a straight face the longest. They can do whatever they like, providing they never crack a smile, with the last man or woman standing set to win a cash prize when the final takes place on July 2. From Friday

 

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Shaun and the sheep of Mossy Bottom Farm – stars of their own TV series and a previous feature film – must help a little alien get back to her flying saucer while avoiding the government agents trying to capture her. 

Shaun must help a little alien get back to her flying saucer while avoiding the government agents trying to capture her in this shear genius film from Aardman

Shaun must help a little alien get back to her flying saucer while avoiding the government agents trying to capture her in this shear genius film from Aardman

This is a dialogue-free film and packed full of inventive visual gags and references to sci-fi films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, from which it borrows the plot. Brilliant family fun from the Bristol-based animation experts at Aardman who reckon that, in a good week, they can just about produce two minutes of film. Shear genius. From Thursday

 

The Royal Collection

If you like your period drama to have a real-life edge, look no further than this bonanza of bodice-ripping box sets. Best known is The Tudors, following Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Henry VIII as he bed-hops his way through six wives. The life of Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, is the focus of The Spanish Princess, a series based on Philippa Gregory’s novels and starring Charlotte Hope. Gregory is also the source for The White Queen, which charts the civil unrest that predated Henry .VIII’s reign during the Wars of the Roses while Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer plays Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor queen, in The White Princess. Starzplay, available now

 

Why is there such a buzz about..? 

A Rainy Day In New York (Sky/iTunes)

Woody Allen’s last film, Wonder Wheel, took less than $16 million at the box office, despite starring Kate Winslet and Jim Belushi. His latest, A Rainy Day In New York, has already taken more than $21.5 million, despite having no US distributor and being released – mainly online – in the middle of a global pandemic.

Contrary to some over-excited headlines, this doesn’t make it his most successful film for years. After all, it’s only seven years since the Oscar-nominated Blue Jasmine took almost $100 million. But it’s certainly not bad going for a film-maker now in his 85th year and whose reputation continues to be dogged by long-standing and recently revived allegations of sexual abuse against his adopted daughter when she was seven.

Woody Allen’s new film stars Elle Fanning as naive college reporter Ashleigh who's in New York to interview a famous director. Above: Timothée Chalamet as her boyfriend

Woody Allen’s new film stars Elle Fanning as naive college reporter Ashleigh who’s in New York to interview a famous director. Above: Timothée Chalamet as her boyfriend

Given that and the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Allen’s choice of subject matter for his new comedy is extraordinary, involving pretty, naive, mini-skirted college reporter Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) coming to New York to interview a famous film director, played by Liev Schreiber. And to the consternation of her louche, pretentiously intellectual boyfriend Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet), it’s soon clear that the director is not the only industry figure to have Ashleigh in their predatory sights.

It’s typically tangled Allen fare that has some nice lines but struggles to throw off its dated feel. Fanning is rather good, the highly mannered Chalamet less so. But it will make you want to go to New York again.

Matthew Bond 

 

SKY, BRITBOX, APPLE TV+ & ACORN TV 

Dancing On The Edge

Stephen Poliakoff’s acclaimed 2013 drama is set in the 1930s and features a Golden Globe-winning performance from Jacqueline Bisset as a bereaved aristocrat. The plot focuses on an all-black jazz band as it rises to prominence among the social elite, including the Royal Family. 

Stephen Poliakoff’s acclaimed 2013 drama is set in the 1930s and boasts an impressive cast including John Goodman, Jenna Coleman, Angel Coulby (above) and Mel Smith

Stephen Poliakoff’s acclaimed 2013 drama is set in the 1930s and boasts an impressive cast including John Goodman, Jenna Coleman, Angel Coulby (above) and Mel Smith

But as fame and fortune beckons, a tragedy sets in motion a devastating chain of events. Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Goodman, Matthew Goode, Jenna Coleman, Angel Coulby and, in one of his final projects, Mel Smith, are among the impressive cast. BritBox, from Thursday

 

Roger Waters: Us & Them

The former Pink Floyd man has never been shy about expressing his robust views about the state of the planet and our leaders. From Dark Side Of The Moon onwards, many of his songs have been howls of despair and anger. But whereas he used to be a musician with political opinions, these days he presents himself as an activist who just happens to play a bit of music. 

This concert movie, filmed during Roger Waters' 2017-2018 tour, dubs the former Pink Floyd man ‘one of the most passionate political commentators of his time’

This concert movie, filmed during Roger Waters’ 2017-2018 tour, dubs the former Pink Floyd man ‘one of the most passionate political commentators of his time’

Indeed, according to the publicity material for this concert movie filmed during his 2017-2018 tour, he is ‘one of the most passionate political commentators of his time’. Still, the music is great. Along with all the political stuff, there are a load of old Floyd classics and it is moving to see how much Waters’ young fans love them. Various platforms including Sky Store and Amazon, from Tuesday

 

Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence

It’s Christie, but not quite as we know it. Some fans of the mystery writer were horrified to find that screenwriter Sarah Phelps had changed the killer in her adaptation of the much-loved 1958 novel.

Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, Morven Christie, Matthew Goode and Alice Eve (above) star in Sarah Phelps' adaptation of the much-loved 1958 Agatha Christie novel

Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, Morven Christie, Matthew Goode and Alice Eve (above) star in Sarah Phelps’ adaptation of the much-loved 1958 Agatha Christie novel

The rest of us were simply hooked to the three-part, star-studded tale about the investigation into the murder of a wealthy heiress, which brings to light dark secrets involving her husband, their five adopted children and even the victim herself.

Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, Morven Christie, Matthew Goode and Alice Eve star. If it puts you in the mood for more classic crime, episodes of Michael Gambon’s take on Maigret are also being made available. Acorn TV, from Monday

 

Dads

Bryce Dallas Howard has a very famous father – he’s Oscar-winning director (and former member of the Happy Days crew) Ron Howard. She pays tribute to both him and her grandfather, character actor Rance, in this heartfelt, amusing and often moving documentary about the joys and challenges of being a dad. 

As well as looking at the Howard clan, Bryce meets six extraordinary patriarchs from across the globe and hears from various celebrities, including Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris and Patton Oswalt, as they discuss their personal experiences. Apple TV+, from Friday

 

Mum

They say that you should always leave people wanting more, and that’s certainly what Stefan Golaszewski did when he called time on this sublime sitcom. The first two series are already available on the platform, with the third making its debut this week. 

Lesley Manville is delightful as fiftysomething Cathy, a suburban widow dealing with being single again. Here she joins her family at a swanky country pile as part of her hapless brother Derek’s birthday celebrations. As she and Michael draw closer together, her son Jason finds it difficult to see her with his dad’s best friend. Peter Mullan and Sam Swainsbury co-star. BritBox, from Saturday

 

BBC iPLAYER & ALL 4

New Nurses

A sort of Call The Midwife from Denmark, this new series has already won numerous plaudits across Europe. It’s finally arriving on our screens and, if advance word is anything to go by, it will be one of Walter Presents’ biggest hits. The tale begins in 1952, a time when Danish medical centres were struggling to recruit nurses. To fill vacancies, the authorities allowed, for the first time, male trainees. 

A sort of Call The Midwife from Denmark, this new series has already won numerous plaudits across Europe and now it finally arrives on our screens

A sort of Call The Midwife from Denmark, this new series has already won numerous plaudits across Europe and now it finally arrives on our screens

Here, viewers watch young soldier Erik as he’s put through his paces alongside five other guys at a hospital, where it soon becomes clear that not everyone is enthusiastic about the rule change. Erik’s passion for a fellow student, the upper-class Anna, doesn’t go down well either. Walter Presents/All 4, from Friday

 

The Kumars At No. 42

There’s never been a chat show quite as original as writer Sharat Sardana’s Emmy-winning creation, which ended up running for 53 episodes. The idea was simple: Sanjeev Bhaskar dreams of being a TV chat-show host, so his parents build a studio in their garden, where Sanjeev can interview his guests. For many fans, the show’s star was grandmother Ummi, played by Meera Syal. 

Bhaskar has said the inspiration for the series was an embarrassing evening when he took a girlfriend to meet his parents, leading him to wonder how they would welcome a real famous person. Among the guests who visited No. 42 to find out were Diana Rigg, Brian Blessed and Twiggy. BBC iPlayer, available now

 

Philharmonia

When the conductor of a Parisian orchestra dies, the baton is passed to the talented, purposeful and decidedly sexy Hélène Barizet (Marie-Sophie Ferdane). But from the very first bar, it’s clear her appointment strikes a bum note with the mostly male musicians. Especially when she replaces the deaf lead violinist with a gifted youngster, Selena (Lina El Arabi). 

But when a body is found in the Seine, it’s clear there are sinister forces at work trying to oust Hélène. What’s more, Hélène is hiding a secret of her own. Philharmonia is a highly praised psychological thriller – it simmers over six episodes, slinky as a Rachmaninov concerto, peppered with steamy sex scenes (on a piano, no less!) and scored with glissando moments of betrayal and passion. All 4, available now

 

Films 

The Invisible Man

Remember the old Julia Roberts thriller Sleeping With The Enemy? Well, this modern-day retelling of the H.G. Wells story about a man who discovers how to make himself invisible is a bit like that, with The Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss playing Cecilia, a young woman desperate to escape the controlling clutches of her wealthy optician boyfriend. When she finally manages it, he commits suicide, so all should be well. But what sort of film would that make? Sky Store/Rakuten, digital download available from Friday

 

Greed

Steve Coogan has a high old time plundering Sir Philip Green’s personality and Richard Caring’s dazzling teeth to create Sir Richard McCreadie – or ‘Greedy McCreadie’ as he was apparently known at school – the ghastly self-made fashion tycoon at the heart of Michael Winterbottom’s cautionary tale of great wealth. 

Steve Coogan has a high old time as Sir Richard McCreadie, the ghastly self-made fashion tycoon at the heart of Michael Winterbottom’s cautionary tale of great wealth

Steve Coogan has a high old time as Sir Richard McCreadie, the ghastly self-made fashion tycoon at the heart of Michael Winterbottom’s cautionary tale of great wealth

As preparations for a vulgarly extravagant 60th birthday party on Mykonos gather pace, what could possibly go wrong? Sky Store/Rakuten, available to buy from Monday

Matthew Bond 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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