Funny Cow

(Cert 15, 102 mins, Entertainment One, Drama/Comedy/Romance, available from August 13 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from August 27 on DVD £19.99)

Starring: Maxine Peake, Alun Armstrong, Tony Pitts, Paddy Considine, Stephen Graham, Macy Shackleton.

As a child, the nameless heroine (Macy Shackleton) suffers terribly at the hands of her abusive father (Stephen Graham) and she seeks refuge in the alleyways of Rotherham.

History is destined to repeat itself when, as a young woman (now played by Maxine Peake), she falls in love with Bob (Tony Pitts).

He exerts control over her and isn't shy about using his fists when she dares to speak out of turn.

During a visit to a working men's club, the abused spouse witnesses a poorly received set from veteran comedian Lenny (Alun Armstrong) and she is excited by the prospect of taking to the stage herself.

Adopting the stage name Funny Cow, the battered wife taps into her troubled past to turn her tears into laughter and prove that women can be just as funny as men.

Kind-hearted bookshop owner Angus (Paddy Considine) shows her the affection she has always craved but jealous husband Bob won't let his terrified wife go without a bruising fight.

Funny Cow is a gritty drama set in 1970s and 1980s working men's clubs in the north of England, which packs more punches than punchlines.

Peake delivers a fearless performance, which leaves scant room for pity as her cigarette-puffing heroine faces one sexist heckler head-on in a grim search for self-respect.

Director Adrian Shergold captures the alcohol-soaked milieu with assurance but he's on less solid ground with the romance between Peake and Considine's man of culture. In that respect, the joke seems to be on us.

Rating: ***


Mad To Be Normal

(Cert 15, 105 mins, The Movie Partnership/Goldfinch Studios, Drama/Romance, available from August 13 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store and other download and streaming services)

Starring: David Tennant, Elisabeth Moss, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Gambon, David Bamber.

Controversial Scottish medic RD Laing (David Tennant) conducts an anti-psychiatry experiment at Kingsley Hall in London, transforming the building into a medication-free sanctuary where patients and carers live under the same roof.

His methods, which fly in the face of conceived wisdom, transform Laing into an international celebrity during the 1960s and 1970s.

During one lecture tour, he meets starstruck student Angie Wood (Elisabeth Moss), who becomes his lover and partner.

She moves into Kingsley Hall, where her presence is seen as a threat by some of the patients such as Jim (Gabriel Byrne), who want Laing all to themselves.

When Angie subsequently falls pregnant, she discovers that Laing cannot give her the emotional support she needs, and his unwavering devotion to lost souls like Sidney (Michael Gambon) comes at the expense of personal ties.

Mad To Be Normal is the debut feature of writer-director Robert Mullan, who delivers an earnest biography of a real-life Glaswegian physician within a loose framework of invented characters, artistic licence and twisted timelines.

Tennant sinks his teeth with obvious relish into his counterculture figurehead, who relishes his time in the spotlight.

He strikes a pleasing balance between egotism and eccentricity, while Moss offers solid if unremarkable support in a fictionalised role that is a far cry from her emotionally devastating work in The Handmaid's Tale.

The script, co-written by Tracy Moreton, is highly selective of facts woven into the narrative but does provide a glimpse - if not a piercing insight - into Laing's practices.

Rating: ***

Also released


(Cert 15, 92 mins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Horror/Fantasy/Thriller)


Insatiable - Season 1

(12 episodes, streaming and available to download from August 10 exclusively on Netflix, Comedy/Thriller/Romance)

The 12-part Netflix revenge comedy Insatiable has been garnering headlines and sparking feverish debate before the first episode has aired.

Created by Lauren Gussis, the show centres on teenager Patty (Debby Ryan), who used to be bullied and belittled by classmates because of her weight.

Now slim, Patty is consumed by a desire for revenge against those who wronged her because of her looks.

She joins forces with unsuspecting beauty pageant coach Bob Armstrong (Dallas Roberts) to dish out just desserts while Bob and his doting wife Coralee (Alyssa Milano) fashion her into the most formidable pageant queen in the country.

Supposedly pretty on the outside but ugly and bitter on the inside, Patty will stop at nothing to inflict pain and suffering on the people who tore down her self-confidence.

Nashville - The Final Season

(Cert 12, 688 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, available now on NOW TV, available from August 13 on DVD £29.99, Drama/Musical/Romance)

Connie Britton makes an emotional return from beyond the grave as country music superstar Rayna Jaymes in the 124th and final episode of the award-winning soap opera.

This series, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) publicly admits to suffering from depression and cancels her plans for an album and tour to focus on her health with guidance from enlightenment guru Darius Enright (Josh Stamberg).

Meanwhile, Deacon (Charles Esten) and Jessie (Kaitlin Doubleday) take their relationship to the next level, Will (Chris Carmack) collapses following an overdose, and Alannah Curtis (Rainee Blake) decides to take a stand against Brad (Jeffrey Nordling) by secretly recording his unacceptable behaviour.

The four-disc DVD box set includes all 16 episodes.

Versailles - The Complete Series Three

(Cert 15, 510 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, available now on Amazon Video/BBC iPlayer/iTunes and other download and streaming services, available from August 13 on DVD £24.99/Completes Series One-Three Box Set £39.99, Drama/Romance)

The sumptuous BBC Two period drama, which charts the romantic dalliances and tactical errors of King Louis XIV of France (George Blagden), reaches a dramatic conclusion with these final 10 episodes.

This series, the palace of Versailles approaches completion as the king's brother Philippe (Alexander Vlahos) returns victorious from war, accompanied by Emperor Leopold (Rory Keenan).

Civil unrest outside the palace walls does not go unnoticed but there seems is no easy diplomatic solution to the revolting peasants.

Also, Louis naively hopes to secure the backing of Cardinal Leto (Ken Bones) but the high-ranking member of the Vatican is plotting to undermine the king.

A 10-disc DVD box set including all three series is also available.

The Blacklist - The Complete Fifth Season

(Cert 15, 939 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, available now on NOW TV, available from August 13 on DVD £19.99, Drama/Thriller)

Chickens come home to roost for fugitive Raymond 'Red' Reddington (James Spader), who helps the FBI track down wanted felons, in the fifth series of the gripping crime thriller.

Season four ended with FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) discovering that Red is her father.

In these new episodes, Liz agrees to help her parent slowly rebuild his tattered criminal empire.

Also, Tom (Ryan Eggold) attempts to learn the identity of skeletal remains found in a briefcase, romance intensifies between FBI technician Aram Mojtabai (Amir Arison) and Mossad operative Samar Navabi (Mozhan Marno), and the contents of a mysterious duffel bag exposes Red's greatest secret.

The six-disc DVD box set comprises all 22 episodes plus deleted scenes, audio commentaries, a gag reel and a featurette celebrating the 100th episode.

All About The Washingtons - Season 1

(10 episodes, streaming and available to download from August 10 exclusively on Netflix, Comedy/Romance)

Art loosely imitates life in the 10-part Netflix sitcom All About The Washingtons in which Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons, one of the founder members of hip hop group Run-D.M.C., and his wife Justine play fictionalised versions of themselves for laughs.

Legendary music figure Joey Washington (Simmons) retires from public life to enjoy the trappings of fame with his wife Justine and four children (Kiana Lede, Nathan Anderson, Leah Rose Randall, Maceo Smedley).

Rather than joining her husband in leisurely bliss, Justine seizes the opportunity to forge her own career, leaving Joey to adopt the role of house husband.

He quickly learns that keeping a close eye on four youngsters is more difficult and tiring that it looks.


(Cert 15, 92 mins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, available from August 13 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from August 27 on DVD £19.99, Horror/Fantasy/Thriller)

Friedrich Bohm directs a twisted fantasy horror, which draws upon universal fears of creatures that lurk in the dark and prey upon unsuspecting children.

Anna (Bel Powley) has been forcibly protected from the outside world by her Daddy (Brad Dourif), who reveals that she must remain in isolation behind barred windows to protect her from a ferocious beast called the Wildling.

Completely trusting the chilling words of her Daddy, Anna grows up believing in the existence of this beast with razor-sharp teeth.

As she matures into a young woman, Anna finds herself unexpectedly separated from her Daddy and placed in the care of town sheriff Ellen (Liv Tyler), who lives with her teenage brother Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet).

The bright lights and noise of the town are deeply upsetting for Anna, who has grown up in tranquillity and seclusion.

The young woman escapes by roaming nearby forests, where she encounters a wolf man (James Le Gros).

At the same time, Anna crosses the Rubicon to womanhood and her body undergoes a terrifying and thrilling transformation that coaxes the voracious Wildling out of the shadows.

Shades Of Blue - Season Two

(Cert 15, 585 mins, Spirit Entertainment, available now on NOW TV, available from August 13 on DVD £29.99, Drama/Thriller/Romance)

Jennifer Lopez reprises her role as corrupt New York police detective Harlee Santos in the award-winning US crime drama.

In the final episode of the first series, Harlee killed her abusive ex-boyfriend Miguel Zepeda (Antonio Jaramillo) in self-defence after she completed her undercover assignment for FBI agent Robert Stahl (Warren Kole) to bring down unit commander Lieutenant Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta).

In these instalments, Harlee and Matt face the repercussions of betrayal, Detective Tom Verco (Dov Davidoff) from Internal Affairs sets his sights on toppling Wozniak's rotten empire and Harlee struggles to conceal her part in Miguel's demise from her 16-year-old daughter Cristina (Sarah Jeffery).

The three-disc DVD box set includes all 13 episodes.

The Package

(Cert 15, 94 mins, streaming and available to download from August 10 exclusively on Netflix, Comedy/Drama/Romance)

One teenager loses more than his dignity in director Jake Szymanski's eye-watering comedy, penned by Kevin Burrows and Matt Midler.

Jeremy (Eduardo Franco) wants to spend spring break camping with his buddies Sean (Daniel Doheny) and Donnie (Luke Spencer Roberts).

He invites classmates Becky (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sarah (Sadie Calvano), without telling Donnie or Sean, who has a huge crush on Becky.

The five students head into the woods with supplies and set up tents for the night.

A series of drinking games leads Jeremy to sever his most prize possession with a sharp pocket knife.

The race begins to rush Jeremy to the nearest hospital so he can be reacquainted with his appendage.

En route, Sean musters the courage to declare his feelings to Becky and the teenagers learn the perils of consuming alcohol to excess.

A Syrian Love Story

(Cert E, 80 mins, Verve Pictures, available from August 13 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from August 13 on DVD £15.99, Documentary/Drama)

Sean McAllister's award-winning and timely documentary witnesses an incredible love story that blossomed during the Assad regime in a time of bitter conflict and bloodshed.

Fifteen years ago, Amer and Raghda were placed in neighbouring prison cells and they secretly made a tiny hole in the wall to communicate with each other.

During the months of captivity, the strangers fell deeply in love and when they were released, Amer and Raghda were married and started a family together.

They raised two sons, Bob and Kaka, who spent their entire lives with either their mother or father in prison.

McAllister's film tracks the family as Amer and Raghda make the difficult decision to leave Syria and seek political asylum in the sleepy French town of Albi, where they watch the conflict from afar and their relationship begins to fall apart.