What to watch this weekend

Looking for something to watch at home this weekend? Here are some suggestions.

Cursed – Netflix

This is a brand new 10-part series from Netflix based on the Arthurian legend of the Lady of the Lake. It’s basically Netflix’s attempt at Game of Thrones. The show stars Katherine Langford as Nimue, a young heroine with a mysterious gift, who meets a young mercenary called Arthur who is on a quest to find Merlin. All ten episodes are available, so if you fancy bingeing an epic fantasy series this weekend, this could be for you.

Clemency – Curzon Home Cinema

For me, Clemency contains the best performance by any actor or actress I saw on film last year. I actually caught this at the London Film Festival last October and I thought Alfre Woodard was a shoe-in for Oscar glory. Unfortunately, the film got somewhat overlooked and didn’t have a decent release in the US, and has just arrived here in the UK. Alfre Woodard  stars as Bernadine, the governor of a US prison that executes inmates. The film follows Bernadine wrestling with the psychological and emotional impact her job creates as she prepares for another death. It’s tough subject matter, and the UK release is incredibly timely this week as the US carried out its first execution in 17 years this week. Woodard is phenomenal though, and her performance is just exceptional. I don’t want to spoil the film, but the final scene is breathtaking.

Ad Astra – Sky Premiere – 8pm

So from a film where it’s all about the acting, to Brad Pitt in space. He plays an astronaut sent to investigate the strange disappearance of his father in deep space thirty years ago. He also has deal with a strange power surge that threatens the stability of the universe. So just an average day in space. Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and Liv Tyler co-star.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – Channel 4 – 9:15

Frances McDormand is a force of nature as grieving mother Mildred Hayes who takes on the local police department as she tries to find out who killed her daughter. McDormand won the Oscar for her performance, as did co-star Sam Rockwell for his role as racist cop Dixon. It’s written and directed by Martin McDonagh, whose previous films include In Bruges. It’s a very dark comedy but again it’s brilliant actors acting brilliantly.

Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm – BBC Four – 9:15

Earlier this week, Coldplay’s Parachutes album turned 20. That makes me feel old. Did you know it was recorded on a dairy farm in the middle of Wales? Well, this documentary looks at the history of the said diary farm, which is also home to Rockfield Studios. Not only has played host to Coldplay, but it’s also welcomed everyone from Queen to Iggy Pop to Oasis. It includes contributions from Ozzy Osbourne, Liam Gallagher, and Chris Martin.

Downton Abbey – ITV – 8pm

Just what we need in the middle of possibly the most stressful year many of us have ever lived through, Downton Abbey is throwing its doors open again. Unfortunately, this is not new episodes, but a repeat of the final season. ITV is showing episode one at 8, followed by episode two at 9:30. Lady Mary is being blackmailed by a hotel maid, while downstairs Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson are preparing, somewhat nervously, for their upcoming nuptials. You’ve probably seen it before, but Downton is incredibly comforting. And I suspect ITV is taking us back now as the terrestrial premiere of the film can’t be far away.

Culture in Quarantine: Shakespeare – BBC Four 9pm

OK, you couldn’t get more different from Downton Abbey. This is a production of The Merchant of Venice by the RSC which was filmed in 2015. I think that’s one of the few benefits we’ve seen from lockdown, that broadcasters have gone back into their archives and given airtime to films and programmes that we might well have missed first time round. There are no stars in this, the words are the show, which is right when it’s written by Shakespeare! If you don’t know the story, When a contract between Bassanio and Shylock is broken in Venice, simmering racial tensions boil over. A wronged father, and despised outsider, Shylock looks to exact the ultimate price for a deal sealed in blood. 

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