What’s on TV Thursday: ‘Tokyo Olympiad’ and ‘Greatness Code’


TOKYO OLYMPIAD (1965) Stream on Criterion Channel and HBO Max; rent on Google Play, iTunes and YouTube. Athletes and aesthetes alike can appreciate this documentary by the Japanese filmmaker Kon Ichikawa. “Tokyo Olympiad” covers the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, exploring glory and defeat at the games through a free flowing collage of meticulously framed wide-screen footage. Ichikawa pays more attention to the athletes and their emotions than to the competitions themselves — a decision that helped the movie stand out and become influential. Criterion Channel is streaming it along with a number of other artful films about the Olympics — including Claude Lelouch and François Reichenbach’s 13 DAYS IN FRANCE (1968) — that offer a high brow alternative to the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were originally scheduled to open this week.

GREATNESS CODE Stream on Apple TV+. For snack-size sports programming with an unconventional bite, consider instead this series of short documentaries, which combines animation and live-action footage to look at critical moments in the careers of seven athletes. They include LeBron James, Usain Bolt and the swimmer Katie Ledecky, who reflects on the first time she won a gold medal at the Olympics. “It’s something where people tell you, ‘no, you should visualize the worst case scenario, the best case scenario, something in the middle,’” she says. “But I just couldn’t visualize myself winning anything but gold.”

THE WEEKEND (2019) Stream on Amazon and Hulu; rent on iTunes. Before the filmmaker Stella Meghie wrote and directed “The Photograph,” an old-school, sincere love story with Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield that hit theaters on Valentine’s Day this year, she spun this funny love tale. “The Weekend” revolves around Zadie (Sasheer Zamata), a stand-up comic who gets into the kind of situation a comedian might recount onstage: She goes for a weekend getaway with her just-friends-now ex-boyfriend Bradford (Tone Bell) and his new girlfriend, Margo (DeWanda Wise). It’s a delicate situation — even before a new potential suitor, Aubrey (Y’lan Noel), enters the picture.

OBVIOUS CHILD (2014) 6:35 p.m. on Showtime. Make a “comedian navigates tricky romance” double-feature by pairing “The Weekend” with “Obvious Child,” Gillian Robespierre’s romantic comedy about a Brooklyn comic’s accidental pregnancy. The pregnancy happens after the comic, Donna (Jenny Slate), spends a night with Max (Jake Lacy), a preppy nice guy she meets shortly after a breakup. Donna’s decision to have an abortion — and the dilemma of how or whether to involve him in it — adds emotional heft to the story of the pair’s romance. “Even liberals may balk at the idea of a comedy about an abortion,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The New York Times, but Scott added that Robespierre “is more matter-of-fact than provocative in her approach to the issue.” He wrote that the movie is “funny and serious without trying too hard to be either, and by trying above all to be honest.”

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