World Cinema

Sunday (24/10)           00:40   BBC2     The Age of Shadows (2016). Korean resistance fighters smuggle explosives from China to attack the occupying Japanese in Seoul in the 1920s. The first Korean film funded by Warner Bros. Hollywood loves a revolution, but only some revolutions. Never mind: the trailer suggests it is quite exciting. Director: Jee-woon Kim. 

Wednesday (27/10)   02:00   Film4     Pili (2018). A first feature by Leanne Welham, co-written with Sophie Harman, now an international politics lecturer and expert on the World Bank and global health. In Tanzania, Pili works the fields, bringing up her two children and desperate to keep her HIV-positive status secret. Then a market stall becomes available and she struggles to get the deposit together, with troubling consequences. A British-Tanzanian co-production in Swahili, produced, apparently, by Queen Mary College, University of London, where Harman was a professor. She got the money to make a documentary, but was persuaded to go down the feature route, which makes sense to me. Music by Tim Morrish (no relation). 

Stephen Ilott’s Picks

Saturday (23/10)       20:40   Talking Pictures             The Hustler (1961)  (also Monday 23:15). Paul Newman pool-hall classic, directed by Robert Rossen, with Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie as the struggling hustler’s alcoholic love-interest. Dark, intense and insightful, it was naturally condemned on release as ‘sordid’. 

                                     21:00   5 Star                              Saving Private Ryan (1998) (also Friday 21:00). Steven Spielberg’s epic tribute to the US forces involved in the D Day landings, centring on the mission to extract the one remaining son (Matt Damon) of four brothers, three of whom have been killed in action. Tom Hanks is the Army Captain leading the expedition. The opening scenes of the Omaha beach landings are harrowing and led to trigger warnings and a hotline for American veterans. Nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won five, including Best Director, but also criticised in some quarters as an overly patriotic ‘cowboys and Indians’ version of events, with the contributions of other nations (guess who) largely ignored. 

Sweet dreams are made of this

Sunday (24/10)          19:00   Talking Pictures             Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Technicolor noir, directed by John M. Stahl, with Gene Tierney as a beautiful socialite who meets novelist Cornel Wilde on a train and takes over his life. 

                                      22:45   BBC2                               Eighth Grade (2018). Comedy-drama written and directed by Bo Burnham and starring Elsie Fisher, about the challenges of adolescence in the age of texting and social media.  The cast consisted of non-professional eighth graders.  Well-received critically and commercially, and Burnham won the Best Screenplay Award from the Writers Guild of America.

Wednesday (27/10)   06:00   Great Movies Action  They Live by Night (1948). Not a vampire picture but the first film directed by Nicholas Ray, a noir with Farley Granger as a convict on the run and  Cathy O’Donnell as the young woman he falls for.  Seen as a precursor to Bonnie and Clyde and later remade by Robert Altman as Thieves Like Us.

Thursday (28/10)       21:00    BBC4                              Don’t Look Now (1973). See Film of the Week.

Other modern films of interest

Sunday (24/10)           00:25   BBC1        Man Up (2015). Lake Bell and Simon Pegg in Ben Palmer’s romantic comedy about a misunderstanding: he thinks she is his blind date though she’s not. Nonetheless they get on, and then spend time complicating things.  There is some fun with a fire extinguisher.             S

                                      19:00   Film4        Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008). Based on two novels for teens by Louise Rennison and directed by Gurinder Chadha, of Bend It Like Beckham fame.  Georgia (15), played by Georgia Groome, becomes infatuated with Robbie, one of a pair of twins new to her school. A series of misunderstandings ensues culminating in a birthday party where things fall into place. Angus is the cat. Even as an adult, it may be possible to learn something here.

                                      23:20   Film4        Our Kind of Traitor (2016). Another to add to the canon of John Le Carre screen adaptations, this one is directed by Susanna White, with Ewan McGregor as Perry, a Brit holidaying with his wife in Morocco who is befriended by Dima (Stellan Skarsgård), a Russian money-launderer who is being forced to sign over his business to the Russian mafia. He wants protection in exchange for account information he possesses about links between corrupt British politicians and the Russians. Surely not? The succeeding action suggests it may be better not to get involved with either side.

Tuesday (26/10)         21:00    BBC4        Peter Sellers: A State of Comic Ecstasy (2020). BBC documentary marking the 40th anniversary of Sellers’s death at the age of 54. Includes an unflinching account of his controlling relationship with his second wife Britt Ekland and also highlights his delusional personality, while reappraising the quality of his back catalogue. The title comes from Stanley Kubrick’s description of the state of mind Sellers entered during his triple role in Dr Strangelove.

Wednesday (27/10)   23:15    BBC2        Wildlife (2018). Directorial debut by Paul Dano, so good as the young Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy and as Pierre Bezukhov in the BBC’s War & Peace. From a novel by Richard Ford, it tells of a teenage boy (Ed Oxenbould) who is left with his brittle mother (brilliant Carey Mulligan) when his macho Dad (Jake Gyllenhaal) goes off to fight summer wildfires. Dano received this advice from Ford: ‘Your movie maker’s fidelity to my novel is of no great concern to me. Establish your own values, means, goal. Leave the book behind so it doesn’t get in the way.’ That’s the way to do it.

Friday (29/10)             23:45    Sky Arts   Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away (2021). Directed by Devin Chanda, Matt Mitchener and Charles Todd and with appearances by a phalanx of musicians such as Eric Clapton, Gary Clarke Jr, Carlos Santana and John Mayer, in addition to Guy himself, who began life on a cotton plantation and rose to be possibly the most influential blues guitarist of all. The role of the ‘British Invasion’ in re-asserting the status of the original blues players is acknowledged.


Sunday (24/10)          01:15    Great Movies Action   The Big Heat (1953). Fritz Lang noir, with Glenn Ford as a cop on the trail of a brutal gangster (Lee Marvin), aided by the villain’s spurned moll (Gloria Grahame). Gloria in excelsis.  

                                      13:50   Talking Pictures            Holy Matrimony (1943). Gracie Fields and Monty Woolley in John M Stahl’s adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s novel, Buried Alive, about a reclusive artist, a widow, and some mistaken identity.  

                                      21:00   Great Movies                The Edge (1997). Scripted by David Mamet and directed by Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors). Three survivors of a plane crash in Alaska vie with each other to make it home, and avoid exiting pursued by a bear. Charles (Anthony Hopkins) has luckily read a book called Lost in the Woods and absorbed quite a bit of it.  Bob (Alec Baldwin) hasn’t had that advantage and may have been having an affair with Charles’ wife (Elle Macpherson, once known as ‘The Body’, and not the dead sort). Commenting on the early demise of the one black survivor (Harold Perrineau), Roger Ebert described Mamet’s knowing approach throughout as ‘an amused wink at the conventions he lovingly massages’.

                                      22:05   Talking Pictures             A Private Function (1984)  (also Thursday 21:00). Post-war comedy about residents of a Yorkshire village raising a pig in secret during rationing, in order to celebrate the royal wedding of 1947. Those were the days. Features Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Liz Smith, Alison Steadman and Pete Postlethwaite, among others. Despite careful casting of three pigs to ensure they were docile, at least one turned out to be anything but. Directed by Malcolm Mowbray and written by Mowbray and Alan Bennett.

Wednesday (27/10)   16:40   Great Movies                To Sir, With Love (1967). 1967 was a very productive year for Sidney Poitier (now 94), as he made In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner as well as this story of a teacher from Jamaica coming to a secondary school in the East End of London. The script was based on E. R. Braithwaite’s autobiographical novel. It was compared unfavourably with a previous Poitier film, the grittier Blackboard Jungle, and viewed as sentimental even at the time, though some of the teaching strategies probably wouldn’t get past Ofsted now. Great title song by Lulu, who also makes an appearance. Judy Geeson and Suzy Kendall are among the other pupils.

Friday (29/10)             03:10   Talking Pictures            The Party’s Over (1966). Peculiar thriller starring Oliver Reed and directed by Guy Hamilton (who made four Bond films) about an young American woman (Louise Sorel) who meets a group of beatniks in London. It was banned in 1963 by the censor, John Trevelyan, who said it was ‘unpleasant, tasteless and rather offensive’, because of scenes implying necrophilia. It was eventually released, cut, a couple of years later, leading producers and director to demand the removal of their names. It may not be ideal family viewing. It may also not be very good.

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