5 things to watch this Easter weekend – 2 to 5 April

Viking adventure, an Oscar hopeful and one of the master of suspense’s boldest experiments – what are you watching this weekend?

Minari (2020)

Where’s it on? Digital platforms including BFI Player

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Parasite sweeping the Oscars was perhaps the last huge film news story before the pandemic struck. The historic victory of Bong Joon-ho’s satire might have looked like being a flash in the pan, but now another Korean-language film – this time a US production – comes to us looking like an Oscar front-runner. Finally being released in the UK following a long trail of festival buzz, Minari has six nominations going into this year’s ceremony, including landmark recognition for lead Steven Yuen as the first Asian-American to compete for best actor. Minari is set in rural Arkansas in the 1980s, where a Korean-American family has moved from the west coast to start a new life. Shot in warming shades of green and sunlight, Lee Isaac Chung’s film is a gentle but affecting story of family life, migrant experience and the elusive pursuit of the American dream.

The Vikings (1958)

Where’s it on? BBC2, Sunday, 3pm

The Vikings (1958)

BBC2 knows how to put an Easter Sunday afternoon together. In an uncrowded field, this 1958 production from Richard Fleischer remains perhaps cinema’s best ever Viking movie, stirringly shot in the Norwegian fjords and scored to a swashbuckling earworm. Kirk Douglas is the wrathful Einar – missing an eye after his half-brother Eric (Tony Curtis) set a falcon on him. Ernest Borgnine is the dread King Ragnar, while Janet Leigh is the Welsh princess whose beauty sets the half-brothers on a destructive collision course. Fleischer had few equals for colourful entertainment in this period, and this story of a Norse invasion of Northumbria offers all the longship action, gruesome demises and dark-ages derring-do that your inner child could ever hope to see.

Lifeboat (1944)

Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Saturday, 3.40pm

Lifeboat (1944)

The granddaddy of all single-location films remains this wartime thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock would later experiment with dramas set entirely within a flat (and what can be seen from one) with Rope (1948) and Rear Window (1954), but Lifeboat was his most radical experiment in limiting his locations. Getting a welcome Easter airing on Talking Pictures TV, this 1944 film is set wholly on the eponymous escape craft. It hinges on the onboard dramas facing a group of survivors from a passenger ship torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat. Hitchcock faced a dilemma when trying to work in his usual on-camera cameo, as the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t lend itself to walk-ons. His solution? To appear in a newspaper that one of the survivors is reading, his portly physique featuring in an advert for slimming.

BlackKklansman (2018)

Where’s it on? Channel 4, Saturday, 9pm

Channel 4 have a primetime slot this Saturday for this by turns frightening and hilarious latter-day barnstormer from Spike Lee. Inspired by a real-life infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, it stars John David Washington in a breakout role as undercover Colorado Springs cop Ron Stallworth, the first Black officer on the local force. Adam Driver is his Jewish colleague, Flip Zimmerman. Although other directors might have been tempted to tackle this true story set within a bedrock of racial hatred with due solemnity, the great appeal of Lee’s film is his fearlessly brash yet trenchant way with the material. BlackKklansman is gut-churning but very funny too. It’s one of Spike’s best recent films – one that saves its hardest punch for the closing minutes.

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Where’s it on? BBC2, Monday, 2.20pm

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Roman epics are often on offer as part of the Easter schedules, and this year BBC2 brings us both Nicholas Ray’s Christ story King of Kings (1961) and Anthony Mann’s monumental The Fall of the Roman Empire. The latter is particularly stirring viewing, being as it’s a film about the decline of an empire made when the Hollywood era of big-budget, set-building epics was itself in decline. After Mann’s film, such vast scale and sets would start to seem too much of a gamble as audience tastes changed and the industry sought hipper projects. The parade had gone by. As such, The Fall of the Roman Empire comes down to us steeped in end-of-the-epoch grandeur. Just look at that cast: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, James Mason, Christopher Plummer, Anthony Quayle, Omar Sharif…