Five things to watch this week
US racist ideology, Thai crime drama, a US first lady’s diary and a selection of Aki Kaurismäki films
STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING — NETFLIX
Oscar-winning Roger Ross Williams brings academic Ibram X Kendi’s seminal 2016 book about the history of racist ideology in America to hard-hitting and vivid life in this documentary. The film uses extensive archive material from the long and sordid history of American representations of black people and focuses its interviews on a roster of black female intellectuals and commentators, including Angela Davis, Elizabeth Hinton, Honoreé Fanonne Jeffers and Brittany Packnett Cumming. It also highlights the lives and contributions of a number of significant antiracist campaigners from American history and their fight against the stereotyping and demonisation of its black citizens.
DOI BOY — NETFLIX
Thai documentary director Nontawat Numbenchapol makes his feature film debut with this crime drama that builds on his interest in marginal characters and their struggles. Focusing on three characters — a young heterosexual illegal immigrant working as a gay sex worker in Chiang Mai, Thailand, one of his clients and a political activist he is trying to protect from the authorities. When his client offers the sex worker a chance of escape and a better life, the opportunity proves to be a risky one that will either upend his already fragile existence or offer him a chance to start a better life.
THE LADY BIRD DIARIES — DISNEY PLUS
Director Dawn Porter unearths 123 hours of personal diary recordings made by Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson, who after the assassination of John F Kennedy found herself becoming the unexpected and initially unwilling first lady of the US as the wife of president Lyndon B Johnson. Through her own thoughts and voice, Lady Bird offers a deeply personal reflection on the tumultuous social upheavals of the period leading from her entry to the White House in 1963 to her departure in 1969. Porter’s skilful recontextualisation of familiar history to illustrate her subject’s reflections makes a strong case for Johnson’s elevation from just one of many “first ladies” to one in a position of power during some of the most uncertain and difficult periods in 20th century US history who was alert to her significance and influence.
SLOW HORSES SEASON 3 — APPLE TV +
A welcome end-of-year return for Gary Oldman to the crusty clothes, yellow teeth and indifferent flatulence of Jackson Lamb, the uncouth but cunning leader of MI5’s reject squad, Slow Horses, in this third season of the excellently entertaining adaptation of the books by Mick Herron. When a long-serving, long-suffering but loyal Slow Horse is kidnapped by a crew of revenge-bent former special operatives looking for justice and threatening to expose an embarrassing MI5 secret, Lamb and the gang must slowly but surely shuffle into action to save their colleague and the reputation of the service.
HOW TO BE HUMAN: FILMS BY AKI KAURISMÄKI — MUBI.COM
For more than four decades Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki has quietly carved a space as the European master of laid-back cool whose films combine a retro love of classic rock ’n roll and golden-era Hollywood style with a deeply affecting humanity. Mubi.com has curated a wide selection of his films, including several featuring the legendary retro-rock crew The Leningrad Cowboys and 2000s classics The Man Without a Past and Le Havre.
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