Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Film 4, 11.20pm

Deranged social services worker Paula (Rachel House) places 13-year-old tearaway Ricky (Julian Dennison) with kindly, if tactless, Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her grumpy husband Hector (Sam Neill). But then a tragic twist of fate threatens to send Ricky to the nearest juvenile detention centre. So, the teen runs off into the wilderness - and when Hector tries to find him, he inadvertently sparks a nationwide manhunt led by Paula, who has never lost a child in her care. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a quirky, uproarious buddy comedy from New Zealand writer-director Taika Waititi, who walks the tightrope between heartfelt sentimentality and spiky reality with aplomb. No wonder Hollywood came calling for both Waititi, who went on to direct Jojo Rabbit, and Dennison, who starred in Deadpool 2.


Mary Magdalene, Film 4, 11.15pm

On the coast of Judaea in 33 CE, Mary of Magdala (Rooney Mara) tends the land with her sister Rachel (Ariane Labed) and brothers Daniel (Denis Menochet) and Joseph (Ryan Corr). The patriarchy strongly encourages Mary to marry a local man, whose children need a mother. After much internal wrangling and feverish prayer, Mary defies this edict and brings shame on her kin. Soon afterwards, Mary meets prophet Jesus Christ (Joaquin Phoenix) and he inspires her to join the ranks of the apostles, including Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Judas (Tahar Rahim). Mary Magdalene quietly trades in solemnity, echoing the current battle for parity waged by the Me Too and Time's Up movements through the eyes of a misunderstood heroine at odds with the suffocating conventions of her time.


Sense And Sensibility, Channel 5, 10.25pm

Emma Thompson deservedly picked up an Oscar for Best Adapted screenplay for this wonderfully witty 1995 take on Jane Austen's novel, which served as director Ang Lee's English-language debut. Thompson also takes the role of Eleanor, the level-headed older sister of the more impulsive and outwardly emotional Marianne (Kate Winslet). Eleanor falls for the kindly Edward (Hugh Grant), while Marianne is swept off her feet by dashing Willoughby (Greg Wise), but despite their very different attitudes to romance, both sisters discover there are obstacles to their happiness. The incredible supporting cast includes Alan Rickman, Gemma Jones and Hugh Laurie in a small, but very funny, role.


Film Of The Week

The Third Man, Thursday, BBC Four, 9pm

A city of ruins, long shadows and crazy angles – and a film to match, in the form of Carol Reed’s 1949 noir masterpiece which pits British actor Trevor Howard, star of Brief Encounter, against laconic American counterpart Joseph Cotten. It’s a story about evil, misplaced loyalty and absence, and the space around which Cotton’s Holly Martins and Howard’s Major Calloway dance is the one once occupied by the person of Harry Lime. He has been a friend of Martins’ since childhood but to Calloway and his team of military policemen he’s a notorious peddler of bad black market penicillin and little better than a killer. To Lime’s girlfriend Anna (the great Italian actress Alida Valli) he’s just another man who took her for a ride. But where is he?

The city is Vienna, still looking bombed-out and exhausted four years after the end of the war. Lime, of course, is played by Orson Welles, though you don’t expect that from the opening scenes as Martins arrives in the city to hook up with his old friend only to learn that he has been killed in a mysterious road accident outside his own flat. Martins, a pulp fiction writer, is suspicious (rightly), particularly when he learns that besides the two friends of Lime’s who carried the body away there was a third man whose identity can only to be guessed at. Calloway is suspicious for different reasons. The truth, when we finally arrive at it, is stranger still.

The exquisite cinematography is by Robert Krasker, who shot the spooky marsh scenes for David Lean’s Great Expectations and was heavily influenced by German Expressionism, and the screenplay is by none other than Graham Greene. Anton Karas’s zither score is iconic, as is Welles’s speech about cuckoo clocks. If you’ve never watched it, you’re in for a treat. If you have, there’s always something new to find, especially if you dug out Citizen Kane after watching the Oscar-nominated Mank on Netflix: Cotten and Welles were regular collaborators and in Citizen Kane Cotten plays Jed Leland, best friend to Welles’s Charles Foster Kane. Some of that same relationship is played out here, a fact which wouldn’t have been lost on Cotten, Welles, Reed or Greene when they decamped to Vienna in December 1948 to shoot the film on its wrecked streets.


Colette, BBC2, 10pm

In early 20th-century Paris, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) marries well regarded author Henry Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West), who operates under the pen name Willy. When he discovers Colette's gift with words, he encourages his wife to document her formative years on the page – with some artistic licence for colour ¬– and takes credit for her first book, Claudine A L'Ecole. The saucy tale becomes a sensation and Henry encourages Colette to pen further adventures of her heroine, Claudine. Over time, she becomes frustrated that only Willy visibly profits from her toil. Based on a script by director Wash Westmoreland and his late husband Richard Glatzer, this 2019 film lovingly details the true story of the French novelist, who challenged the supposed limitations of her gender.

And one to stream …


The White Tiger, Netflix

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay at next month’s Academy Awards, this adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize winner stars Adarsh Gourav (above) as Balram Halwai, a poor-but-clever kid in rural Rajasthan who finds a way out of poverty by becoming a driver for a family of local bigshots. Each step of his way demands ruthlessness, coaxing, persuasion and exploitation and sees him suborned, abused and maltreated in turn. But with each step he comes closer to achieving his goal of escape – a goal he appears to have achieved as the film opens and we see him pony-tailed and expensively dressed, sitting at his desk typing an email to a visiting Chinese premier. In it he lays out his achievements and some of his worldview, and it’s that which forms the film’s framing device and the basis for the flashbacks which follow.

By this point he’s in Bangalore, India’s version of Silicon Valley, and he has changed his name, partly on account of his yen for reinvention but mostly because he’s wanted for murder. The bulk of the action takes place much earlier, in Delhi, where Balram’s chief employer Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) lives in high-rise splendour with his US-educated wife Pinky (Indian mega-star and former Miss World winner Priyanka Chopra Jonas) while Balram beds down in the basement garage with the other drivers. On his rare visits home, Balram is chastised by his grandmother for not sending enough money and threatened with marriage to a local girl. He has other plans, though, and having seen off one of the family’s driver’s – he blackmails him into leaving after he finds out he’s Muslim – he makes himself indispensable, driving Ashok and his uncle from government department to government department as they distribute bribes, and even signing a false confession when scandal threatens to engulf the family. And when he sees his chance, he takes it. Throughout, Balram likens India’s vast underclass to chickens in a coop. They know they’re for the chop, can smell the blood already spilled, but they never try to escape. Instead they meekly accept their fate. Not him, though – and if there’s blood to be spilled, it won’t be his.