Five things to watch this week
A kidnapping, a spy couple, a mother’s truth uncovered, Lenny Henry and activist Bayard Rustin
FULL CIRCLE — SHOWMAX
Steven Soderbergh directs a star-studded cast that includes Claire Danes, Timothy Olyphant, CCH Pounder and Dennis Quaid in this noir thriller series that’s inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s classic 1963 film High and Low. When the son of a wealthy New York family is apparently kidnapped by the goons of a Caribbean gangster, things soon spiral wildly, and sometimes dizzyingly, out of control as the clash between the two worlds reveals a tangled history and dark secrets that, while not always easy to keep track of, provide for plenty of smart, atmospheric intrigue.
MR & MRS SMITH — PRIME VIDEO
Donald Glover and Francesca Sloane enjoy themselves thoroughly in this action comedy series adaptation of the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 2005 blockbuster. Glover and Sloane play two strangers lured by a new job as globe-trotting, high-adrenaline agents for a world-saving secret agency. The only catch is that to get the job, they’ll have to pretend to be an ordinary married couple, a task that may provide their toughest challenge and one that may not always seem worth the reward.
BLACK CAKE — DISNEY PLUS
Marissa Jo Cerar creates an intergenerational dramatic adaptation of the novel by Charmaine Wilkerson, which follows the journey of the US-born children of a Jamaican immigrant mother, who after her death from cancer receive a mysterious flash drive that reveals their mother’s story and sets them on the path to finding out the truth about a murder, and the ways in which their origins and the past that was kept from them have shaped their identity. Well acted and smartly plotted, it offers a pertinent meditation on its bigger themes of painful history, survival and the costs of personal reinvention.
THREE LITTLE BIRDS — BRITBOX
Lenny Henry takes the stories of the Windrush immigrant experiences of his mother and uses them as the basis for his most personal and affecting work to date in this quietly empathetic and lovingly observed tale of two Jamaican sisters and their pious friend who arrive in England in the 1950s, looking for new lives and security. What they find is not quite the paradise they were promised, and the locals aren’t welcoming new black immigrants with open arms. But thanks to their sly sense of humour, resilience and ingenuity, they slowly begin to carve a better life for themselves, in spite of the many obstacles thrown in their way.
BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN — NETFLIX
An accompaniment to the recent Oscar-nominated Colman Domingo-starring biopic Rustin, directors Nancy D Kates and Bennett Singer’s documentary fills in much of the story of the life and importance of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who was a pivotal organiser for the movement, culminating in his successful orchestration of the legendary 1963 march on Washington. Though his contributions to the movement were undeniable, Bayard’s unabashed and open homosexuality led to his ostracisation and writing out of a history he was a vital part of shaping.
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