World Cinema

Saturday (13/11)   21:30    BBC4                      Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Episode 1 (2010). This is the start of a repackaging of the original series of three films made from Larsson’s series of novels, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. In this case it is the first half of the first film, and it still makes for compelling viewing.  A heady brew of investigative journalism, corporate corruption, Nazi sympathisers, sexual abuse and violent revenge. Noomi Rapace is perfectly cast as Lisbeth Salander. Larssen sadly died shortly after he completed writing the trilogy and never knew how successful it would be. Swedish with subtitles.                         

Sunday (14/11)      00:55    BBC2                      The Salesman (2016). Asghar Farhadi’s stunning account of a married couple in Iran, both actors, who move into a flat and suffer a domestic incursion that drives a wedge between them. Meanwhile, they are rehearsing Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, that quintessential American tragedy, which provides an odd counterpoint to their own lives. Measured, haunting and universal. Farsi with subtitles. Shown at CFS in 2017/18.

Tuesday (16/11)    01:00    Film4                      The Ground Beneath My Feet (2019). Marie Kreutzer’s psychological mystery about an ambitious business executive (Lola, played by Valerie Pachner), who apart from pursuing an important deal is also having an affair with her boss Elise (Marie Horbiger). She also has responsibility for her hospitalised sister Conny (Pia Hierzegger), whom she doesn’t publicly acknowledge. She starts getting phone calls which she initially thinks come from Conny but then has doubts. Creepy, chilling, fascinating. German with subtitles.

Friday (19/11)       03:00    Channel 4              Charulata (1964). See Film of the Week.

Stephen Ilott’s Picks

Sunday (14/11)        21:00   BBC4   They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)  (also Monday 1:35). Peter Jackson’s ingenious and heartfelt reconstruction of lots of World War I footage, supplied by the Imperial War Museum, which asked him to ‘do something interesting’ with it. He and his team coloured it, restored it, added extra computer-generate frames to make it look natural, and layered on a lot of archive audio taken from interviews with veterans. More controversially, he also employed lip-readers so he could add dialogue to the old footage, voiced by actors. The result is unique: impressionistic and human, rather than coldly historical. Odd that it took a New Zealander – who took no fee for the job – to make this important work of British Empire art. A pity the title is a misquotation. It should be “they shall grow not old”. How did that happen?

                                    22:00   BBC2   Vice (2018). Directed by Adam McKay (The Big Short) and starring Christian Bale, who is almost unrecognisable as Dick Cheney, whom George W Bush picks as his Vice President, possibly because he couldn’t be bothered with certain areas of government himself. A power grab ensues. If you didn’t know much about Cheney before, this will open your eyes.  Amy Adams plays Cheney’s wife Lyn and Sam Rockwell is Bush.

Monday (18/11)       13:10   BBC2   On the Town (1949)  (also BBC4 Thursday 22:50). Exuberant sailors-ashore musical from MGM and Stanley Donen. Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munchin, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller, plus choreography by Jerome Robbins and music by Leonard Bernstein and others. Hollywood dream-mongering at its best.

Tuesday (16/11)       13:00   BBC2   Top Hat (1935). Hymn to tap dancing, directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, who were pretty good at it, and she was doing it in heels and backwards. Irving Berlin wrote the songs, including ‘Cheek to Cheek’. In 1990 the Library of Congress recognised it as ‘culturally, historically or aesthetically significant’. 

Thursday ((18/11)    00:55   BBC2    Four Hours at the Capitol  (2021). Fortunately not four hours long, but does give a detailed picture of the invasion of the Capitol by Trump supporters after last year’s US election. There is documentary film of the event and numerous interviews with participants, politicians and officials, many putting their lives on the line. It is easy to be cynical, but there’s a very telling moment when a Democrat representative talks about fearing they would never get the House back if it was overrun. The same goes for the scene where a lone police officer confronts a mob and leads them away from the chamber, all the while avoiding drawing his gun.  And it is interesting to hear accounts by the Trump supporters, some of whom might best be described as right-wing hippies.

Other modern films of interest

Saturday (13/11)        18:00   Channel 4   Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017). The underside of the Winnie the Pooh myth, if you like.  Domhnall Gleason plays A A Milne, and Margo Robbie his wife Daphne, while the young Christopher is played by Will Tilston and the adult by Alex Lawther.  Set against the background of WW2, but with flashbacks to Milne’s experiences of the Somme, the film shows his struggles to write and be a decent father. In the world before Harry Potter, Pooh is globally successful, and it is surprising how a popular fictional character can emerge from such emotional difficulty.  Directed by Simon Curtis.  

Sunday (14/11)           00:15   Sky Arts      Suzi Q (2019). Liam Firmager’s documentary about Suzi Quatro, the first female rock bandleader, and her influence on later stars such as Joan Jett and Chrissy Hynde, while remaining somewhat unsung. Tributes come from a wide range of the influencees, including Debbie Harry and Tina Weymouth. Her counter-cultural stance didn’t prevent her being subject to appalling sexism, but above all she is a survivor – she’s still going.

                                      23:30   Sky Arts     Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story (2017). Documentary about Ronson’s part in a brief but key period in Seventies gender-bending music. Directed by Jon Brewer, with contributions from Bowie, Ronson himself, John Peel, Rick Wakeman, Angie Bowie, Dana Gillespie and Tony Visconti among others.  As Roger Taylor quotes Bowie: ‘When I found Mick Ronson, I found my Jeff Beck’. There is a statue to him in a park in Hull, where he was once a gardener.

Monday (15/11)         01:30   Sky Arts     Teenage Superstars (2017). Grant McPhee’s film about the Glasgow music scene in the Eighties and early Nineties.  Includes The Soup Dragons, Primal Scream, The Vaselines and The Jesus and Mary Chain, so quite a potent mix.  Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub does look like Jurgen Klopp.  

Wednesday (17/11)   01:05   Film4          Hilary and Jackie (1998). A biographical drama about the musical and personal rivalry between Hilary du Pré (Rachel Griffiths) and her sister, Jacqueline (Emily Watson), who of course went on to become much more famous as a cello virtuoso. Based on Hilary’s account of events, it was denounced by many friends and celebrity colleagues of Jackie, who died of multiple sclerosis. Apparently banned in France (still) because of the fear of litigation from Jackie’s husband, the conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim, who is shown conducting an affair while his wife is dealing with terminal illness.

Thursday (18/11)       13:00   BBC2           Newsies: The Broadway Musical! (2017). Apparently a well-known New York stage show, about a group of teenage news vendors in the 19th century who go on strike.

Friday (19/11)            01:05   Film4           God’s Own Country (2017). One of the rash of rural British misery films that appeared at around that time. This is the one about a young farmer in Yorkshire, devoted to mindless drinking and womanising, who falls in love with a male Romanian farm-labourer. It was indeed grim up North.


Monday (15/11)          11:00   Film4                               Heaven Knows, Mr Allison (1957). Glossy John Huston rom-com about a grizzled US marine (Robert Mitchum) and a nun (Deborah Kerr) who are marooned together on a South Pacific island in 1944.

Tuesday (16/11)          12:20   Talking Pictures             The Devil and Miss Jones (1941). A department store boss goes undercover to root out some union activists and becomes involved with them. Capra-esque farce from Hollywood, standing up for the little people, in the days when there were department stores and shop workers with rights. With Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings and Charles Coburn.

Wednesday (17/11)   13:30    BBC2                               The Band Wagon (1953). Another MGM musical, this time directed by Vincente Minnelli, and starring Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Oscar Levant. A washed up star is cast in a pretentious experimental show, opposite a pompous ballerina, but love triumphs.                                     

Thursday (18/11)        07:15   Talking Pictures             A Canterbury Tale (1945). A Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger gem, about a group of ‘pilgrims’ making their way in black and white to Canterbury in wartime. Sim plays Alison Smith, a land girl heading for the farm where she is due to work, but during the journey she is attacked by someone in uniform who pours glue in her hair and escapes. He is known locally as The Glue Man.  She and her two companions, a British soldier and a GI, attempt to find out who the culprit is, though you can bet it has something to do with Chaucer. The emotional ending is guaranteed to get you.

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