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Film and TV


The dazzling Dopesick is “a remarkable achievement”, says Ed Cumming in The Independent. In the mid-1990s Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, set about making its new “slow release” opioid, OxyContin, the most popular pain-relief drug in the US, claiming that it was less addictive than other medication in the same class. Yet within years addicts in industrial mining and logging towns were doing anything for a hit. Now millions of lives lie ruined in OxyContin’s wake. The eight-part miniseries, adapted by Empire co-creator Danny Strong, “lays out the facts as a slow-burning tragedy”.

Watching Dopesick – slang for opioid withdrawal – is, “appropriately enough, like being given a series of bitter pills to swallow”, says Lucy Mangan in The Guardian. Michael Keaton’s Dr Samuel Finnix is transfixing. Almost the first words he speaks on screen are at a hearing in 2005, speaking about his patients: “I can’t believe how many of them are dead now.” This is a story that needs telling, but there is almost too much going on. It’s best experienced as a companion piece to the excoriating documentary on the same subject, The Crime of the Century. “Perhaps, just this once, we should welcome a double dose of medicine.”

Dopesick is on Disney+. Watch a trailer here.

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Four Hours at the Capitol

What we saw on TV during the Capitol Hill riots on 6 January “barely scratched the surface”, says Carol Midgley in The Times. Film-maker Jamie Roberts’s “shocking close-up” takes us inside four hours of mob rule (cut to an hour and 27 minutes) – and into the aftermath. Shaky phone-camera footage shows a whirl of gurning faces. We see Ashli Babbitt, the female protestor who was later shot dead. A “shaman” charges around in his horned helmet. Some rioters light spliffs in the atrium. “If you want a real sense of what it’s like to be amid an unhinged mob high on mutiny and self-righteousness, you won’t get a more immersive experience.”

One of the narratives that followed the invasion of the Capitol was that police officers let it happen, says Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. Nonsense. The 40 or 50 police, it’s plain here, were vastly outnumbered. “It looked like some medieval battle scene,” says officer Mike Fanone, who was grabbed by the mob, beaten and Tasered, and suffered a mild heart attack. Four officers later took their own lives. Roberts’s film takes us “into the heart of the battle”. Forget the comic elements. It’s clear “this was a war zone”.

Four Hours at the Capitol is on the BBC iPlayer. Watch a trailer here.