Pick of the week
The Old Man
Life nearly overtook art during the production of this series: in a fitting reminder of the frailty of advancing years, its star Jeff Bridges nearly died of a combination of cancer and Covid. That makes his performance all the more striking in this physically intense affair. Dan Chase (Bridges) is jolted out of meditative, solitary retirement by some angry ghosts from his past life as a CIA operative and is forced into a fight for survival. The adaptation of Thomas Perry’s novel sometimes feels clunky but is sustained by Bridges’s compelling mixture of stillness and sudden, swift, deadly motion. The reliable presence of John Lithgow as Chase’s FBI nemesis doesn’t hurt either.
Disney+, from Wednesday 28 September
“We’re just wounded men out here,” says Gogo (Ezra Elliott). But wounded people lash out – and this London-set crime drama explores the collateral damage. In terms of subject matter, Top Boy is probably Jungle’s closest comparison. Along with exploring the politics of power, the series deals with the emotional toll taken by a life on the edge. When a robbery goes wrong, Gogo and his partner-in-crime Slim (RA) face a series of reckonings. But is trust possible in this brutal world? The story is told partly through rap and drill music, and there is a real edge of menace to this dark but neon-lit world.
Prime Video, from Friday 30 September
Thai Cave Rescue
In 2018, the teenagers of the Wild Boars football team (and their adult coach) found themselves trapped by bad weather and rising water in one of the most dangerous cave systems on Earth, Thailand’s Tham Luang Non. What followed was a race against time that eventually involved volunteers and expert divers from all over the world. The story itself is sufficiently remarkable that aspects of this dramatised retelling feel unnecessarily melodramatic, but the claustrophobia and anxiety of the team’s ordeal are effectively realised.
Netflix, out now
Rise of the Billionaires
A timely series covering the era when American entrepreneurs transformed themselves from online pioneers with catchphrases such as “Don’t be evil” into the modern-day equivalent of Bond villains. Inevitably, we begin with Jeff Bezos, a one-time Wall Street analyst who, while crunching the numbers around a newfangled innovation called “the internet”, had a big idea. And so we begin: the launching of a parade of self-satisfied, terrifyingly ambitious alpha-geeks. Subsequent episodes cover the people behind Google, Facebook and Tesla.
Paramount+, from Tuesday 27 September
Axel Milberg’s downbeat German detective returns for a third season of well-constructed, patiently unfolding – if slightly generic – crime drama. As we return to the port of Kiel, Borowski is on the verge of a few discoveries that will almost certainly render him even more haunted and lugubrious – a letter from his estranged goddaughter Grete reveals some dark family secrets. The estrangement was due to the disappearance of Grete’s mother, but new information suggests that her husband may have been responsible for her death.
All 4, from Friday 30 September
This animated special devised by Kid Cudi as the visual accompaniment to his new album (which drops on the same day) is a contemporary-looking variation on a familiar theme: finding love in the city. Jabari is a young artist who hits it off with his neighbour Meadow at a party. But with career demands gathering and a succession of friends giving them less than helpful relationship advice, will the pair find space for each other? It’s nicely realised and comes complete with a starry voice cast including Timothée Chalamet, Jessica Williams and Cudi himself.
Netflix, from Friday 30 September
Queer for Fear
“Queer people are considered as outside of society,” explains comedian Lea DeLaria, “and horror is outside of society.” This entertaining and enlightening series views horror through an LGBTQ+ lens (being “the monster in the room”) and offers up a persuasive alternative history of a frequently maligned genre that, tellingly, often makes its points via concealment, transformation and allegory. The series begins with Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and FW Murnau’s queer-coded Nosferatu, before arriving at modern classics.
Shudder, from Friday 30 September