Sixteen films on TV for you to enjoy as we leave Level 5 lockdown

Ronan O'Meara


Ronan O'Meara

16 films on TV this week to help you ignore that darkening sky

Movie Guru Ronan O'Meara gives his picks of the week

Ronan O'Meara has been scouring the TV schedules (free-to-air channels only) to find films to watch over the next week as we prepare to move from Level 5 restrictions to Level 3 (and a bit) – here are 16 to choose from.

Breakdown: Saturday, TCM @ 9pm

A married couple breakdown in the desert and while hubbie stays with the car wifey takes a ride from a trucker to get help and she disappears. Of course. In my opinion this is one of the most underrated thrillers of the 90s. An economical and extremely tense thriller with not a second wasted. Kathleen Quinlan is fine in a thankless role but Kurt Russell & the late JT Walsh are excellent as always. There's some lovely oppressive desert scenery too.

The Big Short: Saturday, RTÉ2 @ 10.35pm

Remember the financial crisis of 2007? Well here's the story of the men who contributed to it all told in 3 parallel tales. It's a humorous but maddening & frightening watch as we look at the beginning of a global disaster set in motion by a group of risk taking fools. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt all put in first rate work in this searing indictment of today's money men.

Arrival: Saturday, Channel 4 @ 11.40pm

The planet has been invaded by huge alien ships and a professor of language called Louise Banks is sent out to try to understand them. This film is fantastic. A look at the science of communication and the highs and lows of the human experience. Don't go in expecting Independence Day style fireworks. You won't get them here. You will get something special though. Amy Adams & Jeremy Renner are both great.

The Balloon: Sunday, BBC4 @ 10pm

East Germany in the 70's was not a nice place to live and a family comes up with a desperate plan to escape to the west. A plan so stupid and dangerous work. If you want to finish your weekend with a film so suspenseful it will cause you to lose sleep then here you go. A fast moving, nerve wracking thriller that still finds time for humour and humanity. Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch and Thomas Kretschmann all put in a good shift here.

Changeling: Sunday, Virgin Media One @ 11.35pm

In 1930's Los Angeles, a woman's son is kidnapped and months later he's returned to her. But she doesn't recognise him and takes on the might of the LAPD to prove that she's right. A gripping tale of a mother's love and determination in the face of massive corruption and carried by a convincing performance from Angelina Jolie. This is not an enjoyable movie but it's one that will move you and make you righteously angry.

Coriolanus:  Monday, BBC1 @ 12.50am

In a place that calls itself Rome an army man is pushed towards a political career he's not suited for and chaos ensues. He allies with an enemy to bring peace and things get even worse. This modern day adaption of the Shakespeare play is a gruelling but clever watch that shows a 400 year old play can still be topical and relevant. Lead actor & director Ralph Fiennes leads a nice cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave and Gerard Butler. 

Adore: Monday, Film4 @ 1.30am

Lil and Roz have been friends forever and their sons are best friends with each other too. They all go away on holiday and things get strange between them. Yeah , I know this sounds like the plot for a dodgy adult film but it's actually a complex, twisting and provocative watch about need and loneliness. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright lead the film with a pair of brave performances.

One Hour Photo: Monday, TG4 @ 9.30pm

Sy develops photos for a living and he's become a bit too attached to the people popping up in the pictures. One couple especially. Everyone knew the much missed Robin Williams for his comedy skills but he was a master of drama too and his performance here will burn itself into your brain. A suspenseful, cringy, intriguing and quite terrifying watch. Michael Vartan and Connie Nielsen offer fine support.

The Man From Laramie: Tuesday, Film4 @ 2.35pm

A stranger rides into town looking for information about his brother's demise and immediately has trouble with the local landowners. Before long he's sucked into all manner of hassle. The last of the films director Anthony Mann made with James Stewart is a strong, beautiful looking, lean thriller that packs a surprising depth while still hitting all the beats you'd expect in a western. Keep an eye out for the usual genre faces.

120 Beats Per Minute: Wednesday, Channel 4 @ 12.10am

AIDS is decimating the gay population of Paris and a group of activists called ACT UP decides to push the government into action. One of them knows he's dying and he wants his death to mean something. A unique and moving look at an underserved community. It sounds grim but it really isn't, a story about a killer disease that's full of life. Nahuel Pérez Biscayart & Arnaud Valois lead a young cast that crackles with energy.

Ema: Wedmesday, Film4 @ 1.20am

Her marriage to Gaston is on the rocks and Ema is feeling immensely guilty, both for it and the actions that led to the break up. An action that's had consequences reaching far beyond their home. This Chilean drama from last year is a tough one, a film best watched cold but it still manages to find moments of great beauty and humanity in amongst the misery. Mariana di Girolamo who plays Ema is immense.

The Quiller Memorandum: Wednesday, Talking Pictures TV @ 10pm

Two British spies have been murdered in cold war era West Berlin and a third called Quiller is sent to investigate what's going on. WW2 is long over but he finds out a mysterious group is happy to let the hate continue. This film written by Harold Pinter is a stylish one, daft as a brush, full of well sketched characters and carried by a decent cast that features Alec Guinness, George Segal and Max Von Sydow.

Mistress America: Thursday, Channel 4 @ 12.35am

Tracy, a student new to the New York city way of life is feeling the misery of loneliness but a new family member rapidly makes her existence into an exciting one. A film about the problems of the middle class written and directed by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach might be an anathema to some but some stick with it and it's joie de vivre will get under your skin. Lola Kirke is a pleasure to watch.

Road Games: Thursday, The Horror Channel @ 10.50pm

Pamela is hitchhiking across Oz. Pat is the lorry driver who picks her up. Then Pamela disappears and Pat finds himself playing cat & mouse with a extremely dangerous presence. Richard Franklin's thriller is a forgotten classic, one that plays out like an 80's version of a Hitchcock movie. Very unpredictable and very compelling. Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis are both reliable as always.

Den Of Thieves: Friday, Film4 @ 9pm

A highly trained group of criminals are robbing armoured trucks but now they've set their sets on a rather large target. A highly trained squad of cops is on their tail. But which group is scummier. That's a tough call. There's some serious shades of Heat here but a wildly entertaining and seriously slimy turn from Gerard Butler makes this film into it's own beast, one that's quite overlong but always watchable.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins was a rich New York heiress who only wanted one thing from life - to perform her songs onstage at Carnegie Hall. There was one issue though, Florence was a terrible singer. An amusing and surprisingly moving look at what can be achieved when you have enough money. Meryl Streep is tremendous as the titular character, I really wish she'd do more comedy. Simon Helberg and Hugh Grant as the men in her life do satisfying work too.