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My Octopus Teacher

This Oscar-winning Netflix documentary tells the story of film-maker Craig Foster’s friendship with a female octopus off the Western Cape of South Africa. While cynics might balk at its “aggressive manipulation of the heartstrings”, says Guy Lodge in Variety, “ravishingly filmed underwater observation” quickly made My Octopus Teacher a word-of-mouth success.

It’s hardly the first documentary to plunge us into the ocean, says Sheri Linden in The Hollywood Reporter, but it’s the first to chronicle a sea creature’s story from such a “personal, open-hearted perspective”. The directors cut down more than 3,000 hours of octopus footage, much of it shot years before Foster even encountered the animal. If nothing else, the film is a dramatic reminder of “how little we know about the creatures who share this planet with us”.

“With a subject so captivating, narrative hardly seems important,” says Elle Hunt in New Scientist. “Before the viewer’s eyes, the octopus adapts her crab-hunting strategy for lobster, evades a pyjama shark by climbing on to its back, shape-shifts to resemble seaweed and rocks, and otherwise applies her intelligence and creativity to survive.”

My Octopus Teacher is on Netflix. Watch the trailer here.

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This short romcom series may well be the “best end-of-twenties panic sitcom since Girls”, says Joel Golby in The Guardian. Kiwi comedian Rose Matafeo plays Jessie, a chaotic millennial who has a one-night stand with film star Tom (Nikesh Patel) without realising he’s famous. The morning after, she has to walk through a pack of paparazzi while leaving his flat – and they assume she’s “just the cleaner”.

“From there begins a charming, mischievous will-they won’t-they” love story set over six 20-minute episodes, writes Jessie Thompson in the Evening Standard. “It’s a bit like Notting Hill, only if Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts had drunkenly got off with each other in an Uber hours after meeting.” This freewheeling feminist comedy confirms Matafeo as an “unignorably talented” voice and is an “early contender for comedy of the year”.

Starstruck is on BBC1 and iPlayer. Watch the trailer here.