Five things to watch this week
Shenanigans among spies and the upper classes, more Grand Prix and a civil rights hero
Rustin — Netflix
Colman Domingo soars in this suitably reverential but informative biopic of Civil Rights era activist and under-sung hero Bayard Rustin, who was the driving force behind the momentous 1963 march on Washington. Directed by Tony Award-winning theatre director George C Wolfe and produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s company, Higher Ground, it is a narratively conventional biopic of a singularly unorthodox subject whose significant contributions to one of the 20th century US’s most noble and vital causes was essentially swept under the carpet because of his homosexuality. As the promotional material for the film so neatly puts it, Rustin never backed down from his devotion to the cause, nor from being who he was, and so, tragically, he became for many decades a man who “made history and in turn was forgotten”.
You Hurt My Feelings — Apple TV +
Nicole Holofcener returns to the midbrow upper-middle-class romantic dramedy territory she’s very much made her own over the years in this quietly funny and relatable tale of middle-class Manhattan anxiety. Regular collaborator Julia-Louis Dreyfus stars as Beth, a writer struggling to finish her first novel but seeming to be satisfied by the support she gets from her loving therapist husband Don (Tobias Menzies). When she overhears her husband telling a friend what he really thinks of her book, Beth’s world and marriage are upended in a wave of panic attacks and existential angst that force her to question her life and romantic choices.
A Spy Among Friends — Showmax
The true story of MI6 agent Nicholas Elliott and his longtime pal and notorious double-agent traitor Kim Philby gets a handsome period and cerebral espionage adaptation in this series that benefits from the excellent performances of Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce, respectively. After the revelations about Philby, Elliott is tasked with travelling to Beirut to give his once trusted friend turned British public enemy number one, one final debrief in a tense, terse and claustrophobic encounter that will be their last. It is satisfyingly more John le Carré than Ian Fleming in its pacing, execution and performance and makes a solidly compelling addition to the Cold War era spy genre that benefits from strong performances and a bittersweet examination of friendship built on deception and lies rather than trust and mutual respect.
Brawn: The Impossible Formula One Story — Disney Plus
Keanu Reeves narrates this engagingly dramatic sports docuseries about the improbable but true story of how Ross Brawn took a small team with far fewer resources than its competitors to the top of the Formula One podium in 2009. A familiar inspiring sports tale that has given some big-picture human ambition relevance by Reeve’s particular brand of nice-guy, OMG charm.
The Crown Season 6 Part One — Netflix
Already the subject of much British tabloid speculation and outrage by a range of royalist defenders who have not actually seen it, creator Peter Morgan’s final season of his game-changing royal drama begins with a first batch of episodes that trace the last years of Princess Diana before her tragic death in 1997. Elizabeth Debicki returns as Diana with Dominic West, Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce reprising their roles as Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for a season which — as Morgan has promised in recent interviews — is not interested in lurid conspiracies around Diana’s death but rather the impact of it on her family and the nation.
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