World Cinema

Saturday (30/10)   21:00   Talking Pictures   The Gods Must Be Crazy (1981). A South African – Botswanan comedy, which became the most commercially successful South African film up to that time and gained wider release. The farcical action revolves round a Coca Cola bottle dropped from a plane, a biologist and some guerrillas. Largely seen as a harmless culture-clash comedy at the time, it has since been viewed more harshly, even as propaganda for the apartheid regime. Probably wouldn’t be made now, but you never know. I can’t tell you whether its the Afrikaans or American-dubbed version, unfortunately.

Sunday (31/10)      01:35   BBC2                     Land of Mine (2015). Drama, directed by Martin Zandvliet, about the little-known story of young German POWs clearing mines from the Danish coast after the end of the war. They are watched over by Sergeant Rasmussen (Roland Møller), who treats them with contempt, suggesting continuing resentment about the German occupation. The attrition rate among the boys is cruel, though there are tentative shifts in the survivors’ relationship with Rasmussen.  Even the small squad of British soldiers present do not come out of this appraisal well. Some authentic original locations were used. Powerful, redemptive. Shown by CFS in 2018/19.

Monday (1/11)    BBC2   00:05    Let the Right One In (2008). Swedish teenage vampire movie, set in a rundown Stockholm housing estate in the 1980s. Not much liked when CFS showed it in 2011/12, but it has its admirers. Tomas Alfredson’s next gig was directing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), with Gary Oldman. Didn’t he do well?

Friday (5/11)           01:45   Film4                    Rams (2015). Excellent Icelandic comedy-drama about two sheep farming brothers who haven’t spoken for 40 years but who come together to save their flocks, which are threatened with culling after succumbing to a disease. Wild and woolly. Shown by CFS in 2016/17.

Stephen Ilott’s Picks 

Sunday (31/10)     13:00   Horror Channel   The Invisible Man (1933). James Whale’s version of H.G. Wells’s strange mad-scientist fable, made while the novelist was still alive. Starring Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart and William Harrigan. A commercial and critical success.

                               17:35   Channel 5             Beetlejuice (1988). Tim Burton’s comedy fantasy, about a ghost couple who hire a devious poltergeist to scare away the new inhabitants of their home. With Tim Burton in the title role and strong support from Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin. Originally intended to be much darker, but in the end the studio went for family fun.

                               21:00   Great Movies       Rosemary’s Baby (1968). See the Hallowe’en Roundup.

                               23:20    5 Star                  A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). See the Hallowe’en Roundup.

Friday (5/11)          16:20    Film4                  Vertigo (1958). One of five Hitchcock films that were re-released in the 1980s after substantial restoration. The others were Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, Rope and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Hitchcock had kept them out of distribution since 1968, which is ironic given the warm reception they mostly received.  Vertigo in particular has at times been rated by critics as among the best films ever made, though it has also divided opinion. James Stewart is cast against type as Scottie Ferguson, an obsessive former police officer who retired after a traumatic incident that left him with a fear of heights. He is asked by a friend to follow his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), whom he suspects of having an affair, with disturbing results. Obsessional behaviour in relation to a blonde was hardly new in a Hitchcock film, but it is gripping, and the settings look fantastic.

Other modern films of interest

Saturday (30/10)     22:50    BBC4                The Age of Stupid (2009). Documentary by Franny Armstrong, featuring Pete Postlethwaite as a man alone in 2055 wondering why humanity did not tackle climate change when it had the chance. Uses archive footage, drama and animation. Kind of topical. Opinions on this one are polarised. I’m an environmental zealot, but I thought it was so crude as to be counter-productive. (JM).

Sunday (31/10)        21:00    Channel 4         Widows (2018). Director Steve McQueen’s excursion into heist territory, with a strong female cast, based on the 1983 British television series by Lynda La Plante. Four widows deal with the aftermath of their dead husbands’ major theft from a crime boss. The women decide to carry out a heist themselves and obviously organise it better than any men probably could. Viola Davis is great as Veronica. 

Wednesday (3/11)  23:15    BBC2                  Disconnect (2012). Ensemble thriller about three groups of characters whose lives are complicated by their use of electronic devices. All too true. With Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard, Hope Davis, Andrea Riseborough and others.

Thursday (4/11)       21:00    Film4                 Jackie (2016). Pablo Larraín’s stylish account of how Mrs Kennedy dealt with the sudden death of her husband, the POTUS. Themes of legacy, control and image are to the fore. Natalie Portman worked hard to capture the First Lady’s voice and demeanour, but not everyone appreciated her efforts. Mark Kermode said she was ‘mannered’ and not ‘alienating but alienated’.


Saturday (30/10)   18:50     Great Movies       Big (1988). The film that established Tom Hanks as a Hollywood star, and earned him his first Oscar nomination. Twelve-year-old Josh’s wish to be bigger comes true, and he finds himself in the body of an adult, though otherwise unchanged.  Hanks pulls off the trick of looking grown up while still being a kid, and his expertise comes in handy when he meets the owner of a toy company.  There is also a delightfully touching relationship between him and Susan, a toy executive (Elizabeth Perkins). The film naturally spawned a raft of imitations.

                                21:00     Horror Channel    The Thing (1982). John Carpenter’s horror about an alien lifeform that killed the occupants of a Norwegian Antarctic base before mutating and spreading like a virus. Apparently watched by British Antarctic scientists every June 21st in a midsummer tradition. If only Captain Scott and his boys had had access to cable.

                                 22:40     BBC2                   The Exorcist (1973)  (also BBC4 Thursday 22:00). See the Hallowe’en Roundup.

Sunday (31/10)      00:45    Talking Pictures   Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965). Bette Davis in another collaboration with Robert Aldrich (following 1962’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?) about Charlotte, a Southern woman long suspected of murdering her lover. Now fighting the proposed demolition of her home to make way for a new highway, she experiences disturbing events following the return of her cousin Miriam.  Joan Crawford was originally intended to play Miriam but she dropped out and was replaced by Olivia de Havilland.  

                                 19:00     BBC4                    Death of a Salesman (1985). Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich in Volker Schlondorff’s faithful screen version of Arthur Miller’s 1949 melodrama about the the flaws in the American dream, using inventive narrative techniques to mirror Miller’s theatrical innovations. Nominated for numerous awards and won four Golden Globes.

                                 22:05     Talking Pictures   The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)  (also Tuesday 21:00). Interesting feature with Gregory Peck as a corporate PR man who is haunted by his wartime experiences in Italy. With a score by Bernard Herrmann. Sample bit of dialogue: ‘I don’t know anything about public relations,’ says the Peck character. ‘Who does?’ says his boss. ‘You’ve got a clear shirt and you bathe every day. That’s all there is to it.’ Very true, except now you also get to run the country.

Tuesday (2/11)      21:00      ITV4                       Con Air (1997). Johns Cusack and Malkovich supporting Nic Cage, in one of his first big action roles. Cage’s progress through the world of fame, celebrity, wealth and occasional acting has been extraordinary. Currently playing opposite a pig, in Pig (2021).

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