New to stream or buy on DVD/Blu-ray: Herself, Bill & Ted Face The Music, A Discovery of Witches and more...
FILM OF THE WEEK
HERSELF (Cert 15, 98 mins, streaming from January 8 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, Drama/Romance)
Starring: Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Conleth Hill, Ruby Rose O'Hara, Molly McCann, Daniel Ryan, Ian Lloyd Anderson.
IN PRESENT-day Dublin, Sandra (Clare Dunne) is trapped in an abusive marriage to her husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson). She secretly amasses cash to flee with her two daughters, Emma (Ruby Rose O'Hara) and Molly (Molly McCann), but Gary discovers the plan and stamps on Sandra's hand in rage.
Prompted by her mother's code word, Emma sounds the alarm while youngest child Molly witnesses the brutality from a hiding spot in her playhouse.
With police and lawyers involved, Sandra moves into temporary accommodation with the girls and makes ends meet as a cleaner in a city-centre bar and at the home of doctor Peggy O'Toole (Harriet Walter).
During one visit to Peggy, Sandra watches an instructional video about how to build a home for £35,000. The medic responds with unimaginable kindness – "I want to give you the land and lend you the money to build your house" – and Sandra persuades building contractor Aido (Conleth Hill) to oversee the project.
Galvanised by an emotionally raw lead performance from Dunne, Herself is an empowering drama about one woman's defiant battle against a flawed system. The script, co-written by Dunne and Malcolm Campbell, pulls no punches with disturbing flashbacks to Gary's vice-like hold on his family.
Director Phyllida Lloyd leaves us in a state of perpetual fear for Sandra and the girls, especially when she reminisces about happier times with her husband ("I miss him, I miss who he was").
In those moments when darkness threatens to suffocate the characters, Herself finds flickering beacons of joy in the gloom that can shepherd Sandra to hard-fought independence, and salvation.
BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (Cert PG, 91 mins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Comedy/Fantasy/Adventure/Romance, available from January 9 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from January 25 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray £34.99)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Holland Taylor, Jayma Mays, Erinn Hayes.
THE ancient prophecy, which decreed best friends Bill S Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves) would compose a song that unites the world, remains unfulfilled. More pressing, the dudes are locked in couples' therapy to save their marriages to wives Joanna (Jayma Mays) and Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes).
Time-travelling emissary Kelly (Kristen Schaal), daughter of their time-travelling mentor Rufus (the late George Carlin, who appears via hologram), arrives unexpectedly from 700 years in the future with dire tidings: Bill and Ted have just 77 minutes and 25 seconds to write their musical masterpiece or space will fold in on itself.
The duo agree the "most counter-intuitivest idea": steal the fabled song from their future selves.
While Bill and Ted ricochet through time, daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) conceive their own outlandish scheme.
Materialising almost 30 years after Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the third chapter of the time-travelling comedy welcomes back screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon for a (presumably) final greatest hits set-list.
Bill & Ted Face The Music feels like a farewell concert by a duo who have almost outstayed their welcome and have reached the point where they need to hang up their guitars or tarnish their legacy.
Reeves and Winter rekindle the easy-going charm from earlier instalments, trotting out catchphrases with goofy grins that suggest they are having a ball, even if that doesn't translate to bodacious belly laughs.
If This Is Spinal Tap cranked up the volume to 11 on rip-snorting musical comedy, the wistful third album from lackadaisical time-travelling dudes Bill and Ted turns the knob back down to a faint hum.
SERIES/ BOX SETS
A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES – SEASON 2 (8 episodes, starts streaming from January 8 exclusively on NOW TV, Fantasy/Drama/Romance)
IT HAS been two years since A Discovery Of Witches spun an otherworldly mystery based on the first novel of Deborah Harkness's acclaimed All Souls trilogy.
Teresa Palmer reprises her role as history professor and witch Diana Bishop opposite Matthew Goode as geneticist and vampire Matthew de Clairmont when the lavish eight-part Sky One fantasy drama returns this week and streams exclusively on NOW TV.
In the second series, forbidden lovers Diana and Matthew travel back in time to the late 16th century when the latter was at the height of his bloodsucking escapades in Elizabethan London.
Diana hones her magical powers while Matthew tries to recall details from his inglorious past that might help the couple evade the clutches of The Congregation, which forbids a relationship between a witch and a vampire.
Importantly, Diana and Matthew seek clues to unravelling the great mystery revealed in the first series, which threatens the safety of every otherworldly creature.
AMERICAN GODS – SEASON 3 (10 episodes, starts streaming from January 11 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, Fantasy/Drama)
ONE man cannot outrun his past forever in a world where mortals and deities live side by side in the third series of Starz's dystopian fantasy drama based on the award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman, which streams exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
In these 10 episodes, ex-con Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) attempts to ignore the shocking truth that his employer – con artist Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) – is not only the Norse god Odin but also his father.
Shadow heads to Lakeside, Wisconsin, and settles in the snow-laden community. He hopes to forge his own path, guided by gods of his black ancestors known as the Orishas. However, even in this sleepy, close-knit town, dark secrets bubble beneath the surface and Shadow must begrudgingly accept his godly destiny.
ANT MIDDLETON & REBEL WILSON: STRAIGHT TALKING (1 episode, streaming from January 14 exclusively on NOW TV, Documentary)
LAST year, extreme adventurer Ant Middleton hosted a one-off interview special entitled Straight Talking in which he took singer Liam Payne on a boys' own adventure across Namibia while probing the chart-topping One Direction member about his public and private life.
Buoyed by the success of the show, Middleton returns with a second helping of celebrity expose which screens on Sky One and streams exclusively on NOW TV.
In this edition, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery with Pitch Perfect actress and comedian Rebel Wilson to Mexico with only a backpack, a 4×4 vehicle and each other to rely upon.
As they take part in daredevil activities, including buggy racing and deep-sea diving, the travelling companions share personal stories and reflect on life under constant scrutiny from the media.
NIGHT STALKER: THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER (4 episodes, streaming from January 13 exclusively on Netflix, Documentary)
RECOUNTED using archive footage, photographs and disturbing first-hand interviews, this four-part Netflix documentary series directed by Tiller Russell relives the record-breaking 1985 summer heatwave in Los Angeles when one of America's most notorious serial killers ran amok in the city.
The Night Stalker targeted seemingly random victims aged six to 82 from different neighbourhoods, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Some of the key protagonists in the hunt for the perpetrator, including Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department detective Gil Carrillo and homicide investigator Frank Salerno, share their memories of the case and the cloak of fear which choked California at the time.