Freeview films 18 to 24 September


Inside Man (2006), directed by Spike Lee. Paramount, Monday (20/9) at 22:55.

Previewed by John Russell

This is unusual territory for Spike Lee but definitely worth a look. Denzel Washington and Clive Owen are pitted against each other as hostage negotiator and taker, in a bank heist with unusual features. One is that the hostages and captors wind up clad in the same outfits, making it hard for the cops to decipher who is who. Racism and otherness are explored in this post 9/11 moment, laced with wry humour.  And what exactly is in Bank President Christopher Plummer’s safe deposit box?

A first screenplay by a lawyer called Russell Gerwitz, who took five years developing the script before succeeding in selling it to Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, the production company owned by Ron ‘Happy Days’ Howard and Brian Grazer. After Howard dropped out, a Northern Irish script writer called Terry George added a subplot about the sinister source of the riches in that box and the employent of a fixer, played by Jodie Foster, to keep it out of the hands of the gang. Originally the gang were supposed to be masked and wear sunglasses throughout, but when Owen came on board, he wisely had the script rewritten so you could see his face.

Lee says his inspiration was Sidney Lumet’s 1975 hostage drama Dog Day Afternoon, which everyone should know.

World Cinema

Tuesday (21/9)   01:50    Film4   It’s Only the End of the World (2016). Star-studded Xavier Dolan misery-fest about a writer with terminal cancer coming home to break the news to his cold and dysfunctional famille. With Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Nathalie Baye and Léa Seydoux. Couldn’t be more French if it had a striped jersey and a baguette under its arm. We love ’em, really, though, don’t we?

Friday (24/9)       01:30    Film4   The Nile Hilton Incident (2017). Strong police thriller about the killing of a woman in Egypt and a cover-up by the rich and powerful. Production moved from Cairo to Casablanca because of pressure from … the rich and powerful.

Stephen Ilott’s Picks

Sunday (19/9)      14:50   Great Movies    Moneyball (2011)  (also Wednesday 18:20). Struggling baseball team turns to data quants to work the transfer market. Brad Pitt is the math wizard. Complicated but typically gripping Aaron Sorkin script. On an unrelated note, I’m off to see The Robins in an hour.

                                15:00   ITV2                    Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014). DreamWorks animated feature about a time-travelling genius dog.

Monday (20/9)     11:50   Great Action     Rachel and the Stranger (1948). Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum, William Holden love-triangle Western.

                                21:00   ITV4                    Captain Phillips (2013)  (also Friday 21:00). Merchant seaman Tom Hanks has his ship seized by Somalian pirates and is taken hostage. A relationship develops. Crisply directed by Paul Greengrass from a true story. File under ‘The Decline of American Sea Power’.

                                22:55   Paramount         Inside Man (2006).  See Film of the Week (above).

Tuesday (21/9)      12:10   Paramount        The Deadly Companions (1961)  (also Great Action, Thursday 13:45). The first Sam Peckinpah feature, before he discovered the violence that made him an international name.

Other modern films of interest

Sunday (19/9)                21:00   BBC2                  Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac (2021). A new documentary by Nick Broomfield about deadly gang rivalries in the Los Angeles rap music world.

                                         23:05   Great Movies   Seraphim Falls (2006). Modern Western with Liam Neeson, Anjelica Huston and Pierce Brosnan, who luckily doesn’t sing.

Wednesday (22/9)        21: 00   ITV4                  Lone Survivor (2013)  (also Thursday 23:20). Afghan war heroics, with US soldiers batting the Taliban. If only life was like the movies. “It’s lamentable that whilst Lone Survivor might be viewed as a anti war film it could just as easily be perceived as a ringing endorsement for the US military,” writes an anonymous IMDB reviewer.                               

Thursday (23/9)             01:35   Film4                 Departure (2015). Dreary coming-of-age with Juliet Stephenson who goes to the South of France to sell her holiday home because her marriage has fallen apart. Meanwhile her teenage son explores his sexuality. I note that IMDB’s keywords for this film are ‘male masturbation’, ‘gay crush’, ‘masturbation’, ‘gay’ and ‘gay interest’. I think we get the picture.

Friday (24/9)                  22:50   Film4                  Mid90s (2018). A teenager in LA falls in with skateboarders. Loose, slackerish, touching: a slice of urban life.

                                         23:25   BBC1                  A Monster Calls (2016). A schoolboy is comforted by a giant talking monster tree when his mother is struck by a terminal illness. Sigourney Weaver (as his gran), Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall and a lot of CGI.


Sunday (19/9)            20:00    Great Movies      Les Misérables (1952). Solid black-and-white version of the Victor Hugo classic with Michael Rennie, Deborah Paget, Robert Newton, James Robertson Justice and many more.

                                     22:25    Channel 5             The Rock (1995). Michael Bay action flick with Sean Connery, Nic Cage and Ed Harris. Somebody wants to use Alcatraz as the base for a biological attack on San Francisco and a scientist and an ex-con have to team up to stop them.

Monday (20/9)          23:00    Talking Pictures   Five Fingers (1952). The valet to the British Ambassador in Turkey during World War II, played by James Mason, starts selling secrets to the Germans because he fancies swanning off to Rio with a Countess, played by Danielle Darrieux. An almost-true story, directed by Joe Mankiewicz.

Wednesday (22/9)    02:40    Talking Pictures   The Red House (1947). Haunted house movie, starring Edward G. Robinson, with an appearance by Julie London, who later recorded the classic ‘Cry Me A River’.

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