Five films and TV shows to get you over the mid-November hump
Screen Time: From pop queens to tiger kings via drug pushers, a fistful of entertainment to watch this week.
Halloween? Shivered away into the distance. Bonfire Night? Only a smoking memory. Thanksgiving? We’re British (most of us), we don’t know what that means, other than (old people klaxon!) the arrival on Disney+ that holiday weekend (25th-27th November) of Peter Jackson’s blockbuster, three-part Beatles rockumentary series Get Back.
So, to ease us through this odd holiday interregnum where we definitely can’t start the festive season festivities yet (can’t we?), here are five screen gems to keep you entertained. Staying in, avoiding the pub and keeping our powder dry till party season is truly upon us – got to be a good idea, right?
Got time? Watch it all in one go
As previously discussed round these parts, Dopesick is the essential drama-with-a-message of the season. The Disney+ series, which premiered two episodes at last month’s London Film Festival, is the story of America’s opioid crisis. Well, a bit of the story – with some 500,000 deaths attributed to the drugs, principal among them the painkiller OxyContin, this eight-part show can only scratch the surface of this modern, not to mention ongoing, disaster. But as a troubled small-town doctor, addicted young miner and pushy pharmaceuticals sales rep respectively, Michael Keaton (Birdman), Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) and Will Poulter (Black Mirror) are fantastic prisms through which we see how Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin, helped manufacture, and financially weaponise, an American tragedy. Prepare for your jaw to drop.
On Disney+ now
For singing and laughing (and possibly crying)...
For when you need to feed the soul
Adele: One Night Only
Full disclosure: we’re not entirely sure how UK viewers can (legitimately) watch what’s being billed as “a two-hour CBS primetime special” that’s airing in the US this weekend. But she’s Adele, so we have to make the effort, right? Although, to be legally clear, we certainly won’t be suggesting any hacks that will circumvent the geoblocking of the show.
The telly spesh comprises an orchestral gig filmed at Hollywood’s iconic Griffith Observatory, and an in-depth Los Angeles sit-down with entertainment’s other reigning queen, Her Majesty Oprah Winfrey. Content warning: James Corden is in attendance. And if that puts you off even more than the geoblocking, don’t worry: ITV’s An Audience With Adele, filmed at the London Palladium on 6th November, drops on what we like to call Normal Telly on 21st November.
On American TV on 14th November
A documentary to feed the brain
In the wake of this week’s astonishing extraction of badly injured caver George Linnane from deep underneath the Brecon Beacons in Wales, the feats depicted in The Rescue are even more mind-boggling. This National Geographic documentary is the untold story of the saving of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave system in Thailand in the summer of 2018.
Foregrounding the staggering challenges facing British cavers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, who led the ultimately successful operation, the film reveals astonishing new details about exactly what they were up against as they fought to save a group trapped five kilometres underground for two weeks. Add in the fact that the filmmakers are Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the wife-and-husband team who made the Oscar-winning Free Solo, and you know you’re in for a heart-pumping ride – one that’s all the better for being true (and w/a happy ending).
In cinemas now, on Disney+ from 3rd December
The film worth leaving home to see
As part of the British Film Institute’s month-long tribute to Mike Leigh on London’s Southbank, the director’s 1993 landmark Naked is being re-released in UK cinemas having been “remastered in 4K”. That means the career-making performance by David Thewlis – for which he won Cannes’ Best Actor award, while Leigh won Best Director – has never looked sharper, sounded starker or felt more real.
He’s ranting’n’raving Johnny, a Manc-on-the-run who pitches up in East London. This gobshite street-philosopher noises up his ex-girlfriend (Lesley Sharpe), preys on her fragile flatmate (the late Katrin Cartlidge) and prowls Soho by night with a poor-soul Scotsman (Ewen Bremner) who’s desperately looking for his girlfriend. Bracingly brilliant.
In cinemas now
Talking points for when your next wave of social fatigue hits
Tiger King 2: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Ah, Lockdown 1.0. The good old days of spring 2020, when the weather was fine, the banana bread was warm, being locked at home was (whisper it) a novel thrill and an unheralded American documentary series about ordinary batshit folks who like to keep big cats for fun became the must-see, can’t‑miss, can’t‑believe global TV hit of the early days of the pandemic.
No one saw that coming. Nor did they see quite where we’d go with the lives and times of Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and that creepy guy who seemed to have something a bit harem-like going on. Well, now they’re back, and even Joe being in prison can’t stop this tiger-shaped grrrrrravy train. To quote one YouTube commenter: “something nobody asked for, but everyone is going to watch”.
On Netflix from 17th November