Personal Shopper to The Souvenir: the seven best films to watch on TV this week

Pick of the week

Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper.
Personal Shopper.

The second of two collaborations between actor Kristen Stewart and director Olivier Assayas is this cunningly ambiguous ghost story cum stalker thriller from 2016. Stewart is a tightly wound presence as Maureen, an American in Paris with a job procuring haute couture clothes for a demanding female celebrity. She is also a medium whose twin brother has died – their pact that they would stay in touch beyond the grave leads to several chillingly depicted attempts to make contact. A series of creepy, anonymous text messages adds to her worries as she faces her fears and her grief, the camera circling her like an unseen spirit.
Sunday 23 December, 1.25am, BBC Two


Supernova. Photograph: BBC Films/Allstar

Harry Macqueen’s chamber piece has a more muted take on memory loss than recent films The Father or Relic, but is no less heart-tugging. Longstanding couple Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), who has early onset dementia, take a road trip to the Lake District. Amid family gatherings and cosy nights in their campervan, the pair struggle to deal with loss – in more ways than one. It may sidestep some of the realities of the condition, but this is a superbly acted drama about living life on your own terms.
Saturday 22 December, 10.25am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere

The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth.
The Man Who Fell to Earth. Photograph: British Lion/Studiocanal/Allstar

David Bowie’s otherworldly musical personas and mannered acting style made him an ideal lead for this seminal 1976 sci-fi. His alien, Thomas Jerome Newton, comes to Earth in disguise with a plan to save his dying planet. But in Nicolas Roeg’s fractured tale, he finds powerful interests – and his own weaknesses – conspiring against him. A woozy melancholy infuses the film, in the lives of the people Newton touches, his addictions to booze and television, and even in his love for Candy Clark’s waitress Mary-Lou.
Sunday 23 December, 1.05am, Talking Pictures TV

The Souvenir

Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke in The Souvenir.
Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke in The Souvenir. Photograph: BBC Films/Allstar

With part two just out in cinemas, here’s an opportunity to catch the challenging first tranche of Joanna Hogg’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama. Honor Swinton Byrne plays Julie, a 24-year-old film student whose privileged upbringing has left her all at sea in terms of her creative voice and the authenticity of her work. Then she meets Foreign Office official Tony (an effortlessly toffish Tom Burke) and is seduced by his air of confidence and louche mystery. But his gaslighting of her and slowly revealed dark secrets begin to sour their relationship.
Sunday 23 December, 10pm, BBC Two

Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr Fox.
Fantastic Mr Fox. Photograph: 20th Century Fox

This is Roald Dahl, certainly, but as filtered through the lens of Wes Anderson it’s a curious beast. In a children’s animated adventure about an egotistical fox (voiced by George Clooney) and his long-running battle with three human farmers we find Anderson’s typically smart dialogue and passive-aggressive characters. There’s enough quick comedy, colourful spectacle and Dahlian viciousness for the kids, but this is really one for the grownups in the room.
Sunday 23 December, 2pm, Channel 4

Little Joe

Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw in Little Joe.
Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw in Little Joe. Photograph: The Bureau/Allstar

An unsettling Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style horror built in bold blocks of colour, Jessica Hausner’s 2019 film is set at a laboratory that is developing a mood-enhancing plant. When scientist Alice (Emily Beecham) brings one of the pretty red flowers home for her son, Joe (Kit Connor), and names it Little Joe, bad things are bound to happen. There’s good support from Ben Whishaw and Kerry Fox playing Alice’s concerned colleagues, as both mother and child find their behaviours changing in response to the possibly malevolent flora.
Wednesday 26 December, 11.15pm, BBC Two

The Abominable Dr Phibes

The Abominable Dr Phibes.
The Abominable Dr Phibes. Photograph: MGM/Allstar

Vincent Price’s 100th film is a fine example of the grand guignol tendency in 70s British horror. Director Robert Fuest had directed episodes of The Avengers, and this 1920s-set chiller has elements of the spy series’ line in stagey murders. Price’s mute, scarred widower takes revenge on the doctors he blames for his wife’s death by recreating the curses visited on Egypt in the Old Testament. It’s inventive stuff – kudos to the set and costume designers – even with a sadly diminished Joseph Cotten as one of the surgeons under threat.
Friday 28 December, 9.05pm, Talking Pictures TV

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