Steve Buscemi, Tom Hanks, Beyonce, Girlgroups, Detroit, London Movies of the Week: TV


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On Saturday

BBC Two, Filthy God, 10 p.m.

With a gritty drama set in London about body image and self-confidence, Dutch filmmaker Sacha Polak is making her English-language debut. Single mother Jade (Vicky Knight) is the victim of her former boyfriend’s horrific acid attack. In order to protect the tissue from further injury, her face, arms and torso are scarred and the hospital recommends her to wear a transparent face mask. Jade is recovering at home with her mother Lisa (Katherine Kelly) when she is eventually released, but her young daughter Rae (Eliza Brady-Girard) is distracted by the mask. Jade, distressed by the reaction of her little girl, seeks comfort from her fun-loving best friend Shami (Rebecca Stone) and Nazi’s boyfriend Shami (Bluey Robinson). A night out proves to be a fire trial, and for the challenges ahead Jade gathers courage.


BBC Four, The Workshop, 10:10 p.m.

Popular writer Olivia Dejazet (Marina Fois) agrees to lead a writing workshop during the summer for teenagers living in the troubled port town of La Ciotat, near Marseille, in this convincing French drama. She invites the participants to write a mystery that will be written using their personal stories and the town’s past. For their novel, the culturally and economically diverse teenagers first share ideas about characters and scenarios. Olivia finds herself inextricably attracted to a child, Antoine (Matthieu Lucci), who in his writing shows a penchant for wanton abuse. She starts researching the young man and finds proof that he watches videos of the right wing and is motivated by their negative messages.

About Monday

Film 4, Lean On Pete, 11:15 p.m.

After the success of the Weekend (2011) and 45 Years (2015), Andrew Haigh, hailed by many critics as one of the most exciting filmmakers in the UK, has gone to rural Northwest America for this coming-of-age novel, which is making its network premiere here.

The film opens with 15-year-old Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) moving to Portland with his not-good, hard-drinking father, Ray, based on the novel of the same name by Willy Vlautin, a writer and alt-country musician from Portland, Oregon (Travis Fimmel). Since shortly after he was born, Charley has not seen his mother and has grown accustomed to his father’s string of short-term girlfriends. His only other relative is the estranged sister of his father, Margy, who last heard of working at a bar somewhere in Wyoming called Scottish Sam’s.

Charley, who always has to go to school and is pretty much on his own, keeps jogging around town and visiting the local racetrack, where he happens to meet the snarky and unscrupulous owner of the racehorse, Del Montgomery (a grizzled-looking Steve Buscemi). To help him change a wheel, Del offers Charley money, and Charley, in need of the money, offers to help Del for a whole day. And so, as the two load Del’s horses into a trailer and head to a cheap, out-of-town horse race, an unlikely relationship begins. With one of the horses, Lean On Pete – or Pete for short, Charley establishes a special bond.

Charley embarks on a road trip with Del, Pete and Del’s favorite jockey, Bonnie, after Ray is assaulted by a jealous husband and ends up in the hospital (Chloe Sevigny). But it soon becomes apparent that the days of Pete in Del’s stable are numbered and he will soon be sent “to Mexico,” a kind of slaughterhouse euphemism. Del and Bonnie are unsentimental, so they’re desperate for Charley. He steals Pete and sets off toward Wyoming on foot through the country.

Haigh definitely pulls at the heartstrings in confronting Charley with tragedy and trials, but there is nothing cloying in this movie. Instead, it is an intense, elegiac, strong and sometimes disturbing tale about a teenager in extremis – a boy who has fallen through the cracks and has to rely on his own strength and resourcefulness to prevail, all the while exposing his relative youth’s weakness and naiveté. Buscemi and Sevigny are welcome helpers, but it is the quiet integrity that Plummer brings to Charley’s position, coupled with the sense of isolation that evokes Haigh’s camerawork, that makes Lean On Pete really sing.

On Tuesday

Channel 5, The Green Mile, 10:30 p.m.

The Yummy Equal


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