Beautiful Boy, BBC Two, 10pm

David Sheff (Steve Carell) is a senior writer for prestigious magazines, a man who famously conducted the last major interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1980. His first wife Vicki (Amy Ryan) lives in Los Angeles, amicably sharing custody of their son Nic (Timothee Chalamet), while David builds a new life in San Francisco. David suspects Nic is in the grip of drug addiction and the concerned father persuades his boy to attend Ohlhoff Recovery Centre. Treatment appears to go well until the teenager goes AWOL and David applies his journalistic mind to learning everything about drugs and their treatment. Based on two emotionally raw memoirs, Beautiful Boy is a sobering account of one family's battle of attrition with a demon that sinks its jaws into a prodigal son and refuses to let go.


The Bling Ring, BBC One, 12.10am

Inspired by a true story, Sofia Coppola’s drama follows a group of bored, fame-hungry Los Angeles teenagers who find a way to taste the celebrity lifestyle by robbing stars’ houses. However, when the cops finally catch up with them, it seems the burglars are about to enjoy some media notoriety of their own. The premise sounds like a great starting point for a satire about our celebrity culture, so some viewers may be frustrated that Coppola largely neglects that angle in favour of a more detached, non-judgmental view. However, her approach does have its compensations – the film looks gorgeous, and Emma Watson is a revelation as a character about as far removed from Harry Potter's Hermione as it’s possible to get.


RoboCop, ITV 4, 9.00pm

In the future, the city of Detroit is on the brink of collapse due to crime and financial problems. The corporation Omni Consumer Products steps in to take over the police department, with a plan to unleash their robot officers on the population. Their first prototype isn't up to the job, but they get a second chance when human officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is killed in the line of duty and then rebuilt as a cyborg. However, some of his old memories remain, prompting him to try to track down the criminals who killed him – and in the process, he begins to turn against his masters. Director Paul Verhoeven’s satirical, blackly funny and very violent 1987 sci-fi thriller deserves its cult status, and it’s no wonder the lame 2014 remake couldn't compete.


Mad Max 2, ITV 4, 11.40pm

Vagabond drifter Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) returns to action in an 1981 sequel that's even better than the original. The former cop roams around a post-apocalyptic wasteland, until he's reluctantly recruited to help a petrol-producing desert community fend off vicious gangs of marauders determined to take over their oil refinery and steal their precious fuel. Even if you haven't seen the first film, you will be swept up in George Miller's brilliant action movie - it was initially released in the US as The Road Warrior, due to the fact that Mad Max hadn't made much impact there, and still went on to be a critical and commercial success.


Breathe, BBC Two, 9pm

Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) is a globe-trotting adventurer who sets his sights on the lovely Diana Blacker (Claire Foy). Robin wins the fair maiden's heart with charm and they head to Kenya, where he operates as a tea trader. Marriage beckons and as the couple prepares to welcome a child into the world, Robin contracts polio. He tearfully confronts the grim reality of spending his final days confined to a hospital bed, paralysed from the neck down. Diana refuses to accept the diagnosis and encourages Robin to embrace life rather than shrink from it. Based on an inspirational true story, Breathe is a classy, moving and quintessentially British love story, distinguished by top-notch production values.


Quartet, BBC Four, 9pm

Dustin Hoffman goes behind the camera to direct an impressive British cast in this comedy drama. Run with a gentle yet firm touch by on-staff medic Dr Lucy Cogan (Sheridan Smith), retirement home Beecham House heaves with eccentrics, including luvvie Cedric (Michael Gambon), who masterminds the annual fundraising concert attended by staff and wealthy donors. Three of the residents - Reginald (Tom Courtenay), Wilf (Billy Connolly) and Cissy (Pauline Collins) - once performed together as a celebrated quartet. The unexpected arrival of the group's fourth member, Reg's ex-wife Jean (Maggie Smith), sends shockwaves through Beecham House. Once Jean adjusts to the gentle ebb and flow of daily life at the home and rebuilds bridges that were burnt to a cinder, she rediscovers her passion for performance.


Nightcrawler, Friday, BBC Two, 11.20pm


A gaunt and creepy-looking Jake Gyllenhaal (pictured above) stars in this intriguing 2014 film from director Dan Gilroy, shot from Gilroy’s own script and pitched somewhere between media satire and black comedy.

The scene is contemporary Los Angeles but chief protagonist Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is portrayed as an out-of-time character, simperingly polite and obsequious to anyone he thinks can give him a leg up and fond of mouthing off in a kind of rapid-fire management speak that could have come out of a corporate handbook from the 1980s. He’s also a violent sociopath, a trait he reveals in the opening scene when we see him stealing rolls of fencing late at night and then assaulting the security guard who comes to investigate. Louis will wear the guard’s stolen watch for the rest of the film. Think Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle crossed with Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, but with a lot of Ascher Fellig thrown in. And who’s Ascher Fellig? Better known as Weegee he was a camera-toting pavement rat who plied his trade in after-hours New York, snapping crime scenes (often before the police had arrived) and selling the pictures to newspapers.

Gilroy’s inspiration for Nightcrawler came after reading Naked City, a book of Weegee’s most celebrated images, and then noticing that Los Angeles TV news was crammed with true crime stories driven by lurid footage. And so was born Louis Bloom, a 21st century Weegee only armed not with a 4x5 Speed Graphic but with a digital video camera, a state-of-the-art laptop, a fast car and a police radio scanner. Realising that the local news networks will pay big money for footage of traffic accidents and shootings – just so long as the victims are white, of course – Louis recruits sofa surfing slacker Rick (Riz Ahmed, on great form) to calculate the shortest route to the latest bloodbath. His preferred customer is KWLA 6, a station whose editor Nina (Rene Russo, Gilroy’s wife) is desperate for ratings. And so a gruesome marriage of convenience is born as Nina’s journalistic ethics are compromised and Louis bends the law in order to bag the money shot.

If you love films in which night-time Los Angeles plays a neon-drenched role (Drive, Collateral etc.) Nightcrawler is a treat and Gyllenhaal, who lost two stone for the role on a special diet of kale salads and chewing gum, is mesmerising in the lead.

And one to stream …

Heroes Don’t Die, MUBI


Adèle Haenel (pictured above) is fast becoming the go-to actress for France’s indie directors. Having established herself over a decade ago in Water Lilies, the debut film from former partner Céline Sciamma, and then starred in a slew of critically acclaimed films such as the Dardennes brothers’s arthouse hit The Unknown Girl, she found herself starring in three films at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. This is one of them, and again it marks a directorial debut.

Aude Léa Rapin is the woman behind the camera, Haenel her surrogate in a film which tells the story of a documentary film crew travelling from Paris to Bosnia in pursuit of a will o’ the wisp: a ghost, a figment of the imagination or a real man who lived and died in a town near Srebrenica. Which one it is, they aren’t sure.

Haenel is Alice, the director, who along with sound recorder Virginie (Antonia Buresi) and cameraman Paul (naturally we never see him) accompany Alice’s friend Joachim (Jonathan Couzinié) on a voyage of discovery after he has a startling encounter in a Paris street: a man with what he describes as an Eastern European accent recognises him, begins shouting at him, calls him Zoran, accuses him of murder and torture and then claims he died on August 21, 1983. Joachim is shaken because that was the day he was born. Gradually a feeling comes over him that he is the reincarnation of Zoran. Alice films him in a trance-like state and one day he wakes to find he has scrawled a name on his arm. Alice recognises it as a place in Bosnia – she has spent time in the country covering the aftermath of the war and, handily, speaks Serbo-Croat. Crucial details about Joachim’s own back story are revealed later and it’s these that cause Alice and her crew to pack up a minivan and head for Bosnia in search of answers.

A blend of ghost story, road movie, war essay, meditation on mortality and art-for-art’s-sake wig-out, Heroes Don’t Die could never be described as flawless. There are too many threads. But even in its mis-steps there’s a certain brio, and thanks to its thought-provoking premise and the efforts of the ever-watchable Haenel it never fails to hold the attention.