World Cinema

Saturday (20/11)          21:30      BBC4                  Stieg Larssons Millenium Episode 2 (2010). The second half of the screen version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, in which Mikael Blomkvist, ejected from his journalist role as a result of a court case gone wrong, investigates the disappearance of the great-niece of a Swedish industrialist and unearths some nasty family secrets. He is assisted by the formidable Lisbeth Salander, played by Noomi Rapace. Swedish with subtitles.

Sunday (21/11)           01:20      BBC2                  The Midwife (2017). Two excellent French actresses, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot in a tale of friendship across a generation. The film’s original title is Sage femme, which means both ‘midwife’ and ‘wise woman’. Claire (Frot) is a midwife, serious and lonely at 49, but who is the wise woman? Could it be Béatrice (Deneuve), dramatic, sensual, chaotic former mistress of Claire’s dead father? The two women meet and a combative relationship forms and softens as Béatrice reveals her own needs. Touching, humane and powerfully done, although the use of cancer as an emotional condiment is perhaps a little wearisome. Directed by Martin Provost, a director who, like Truffaut, loves women. French with subtitles.

Tuesday (23/11)          02:15     Channel 4          And Then We Danced (2019). Georgian sensitive coming of age drama (which I shall in future abbreviate to SCOAD, there being so many of them) about the love between two male dancers in the Georgian national dance troop. This one is really worth watching, given the real jeopardy involved in pursuing a homosexual lifestyle in Stalin’s homeland: the film led to street protests and a near riot. Stunning music and terpisichorean performances. Recently shown by CFS. Georgian with subtitles.

Wednesday (24/11)    02:20     Channel 4          Jallikattu (2019). A bull escapes in an Indian village and is pursued by an increasingly frantic mob. Acclaimed as a realistic story that grows into an expressionistic nightmare. Not seen it, but certainly seems worth a look. Malayalam with subtitles.

Thursday (25/11)        02:50      Channel 4         Fire Will Come (2019). See Film of the Week.

Friday (26/11)              01:10     Film4                 Sauvage (2018). French drama about a 22-year-old male prostitute in Strasbourg, who won’t quit the life and is in love with a heterosexual man. A rough trade indeed. ‘Graphic… full of sex and anatomy,’ according to Vanity Fair, although it probably won’t be replacing Henry Gray’s 1858 tome as a sourcebook for surgeons. In French with subtitles.

Stephen Ilott’s picks

Saturday (20/11)       14:15   Talking Pictures   The Queen of Spades (1949)  (also Wednesday 16:15). A British version of the much-adapted Pushkin story, which has so far spawned at least two films and Tchaikovsky’s opera. An elderly countess in St Petersburg sells her soul to the devil to help her win at Faro, a silly card game akin to Snap, which mesmerised Russia at the start of the 19th century. Starring Anton Walbrook and Edith Evans. Director Thorold Dickinson supposedly read the story on Tuesday, studied the script on Wednesday and started shooting on Friday. That’s the way to do it. Shot in a studio in Welwyn Garden City, famous as the home of Shredded Wheat. Now hailed as a classic by Martin Scorsese, who certainly knows movies.

                                     16:20   BBC1                      Mary Poppins (1964). For people of a certain age, the best children’s film ever, starring Julie Andrews as Mary, the magical nanny ideally suited to dealing with some badly-behaved middle class children, and Dick Van Dyke as a pavement artist with a dodgy Cockney accent. Disney’s subsequent Saving Mr Banks (2013) showed that its gestation wasn’t straightforward, but it was all right on the night. Directed by Bill Stevenson from the novel by P.L. Travers.   

Sunday (21/11)          22:00   BBC2                      The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015). Biopic of the extraordinary Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, a mathematical prodigy in British India, whose work went largely unrecognised until 1913, when he wrote to a Cambridge mathematician, G. H. Hardy, and was invited to Britain. He subsequently became a Fellow of both Trinity College and the Royal Society, before going home to die at 32. Played by Dev Patel, with Jeremy Irons as Hardy. Ramanujan was a Brahmin, who attributed his genius to the family goddess Namagiri Thayar. As he put it, ‘An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.’ Stephen Hawking famously wrote something similar, at the end of A Brief History of Time, then claimed he was just using a figure of speech.

Tuesday (23/11)        23:10   Film4                      Maurice (1987). James Ivory’s adaptation of E M Forster’s last novel, posthumously published in 1971, about a homosexual relationship, between Clive (Hugh Grant) and Maurice (James Wilby), in the early 20th Century. A strong cast includes Rupert Graves, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Billie Whitelaw and Ben Kingsley.  

Thursday (25/11)      13:45   Talking Pictures     I Remember Mama (1948). ‘One of the most wholesome and heart-warming classics of all time,’ writes an anonymous fan on IMDB, but don’t let that put you off. Starring Irene Dunne and Barbara Bel Geddes, most famous as the sensible woman who is not Kim Novak in Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Miss Ellie in the TV soap Dallas. A comedy about a Norwegian family growing up in San Francisco in the 1910s. Maybe I should show it at my Scandi Yuletide event, currently hanging by a thread?

Friday (26/11)            23:20   Film4                      The Shallows (2016). Blake Lively battles a hungry (or angry?) shark not all that far from the shore.  Let’s face it, we’ve all done something similar. There’s even a wounded bird called Steven Seagull (get it?).

Other modern films of interest

Wednesday (24/11)   21:00    Film4    Patriots Day (2016). Story of the Boston Marathon bombing, directed by Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon) and starring Mark Wahlberg as Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (a composite character) who is on duty at the marathon and becomes involved in the subsequent investigation. The perpetrators, two Chechen brothers, escape from the scene of the bombing and wreak further havoc across the city before the police catch up with them. The epilogue featuring the survivors is very moving.

Femme Fatale by Luc Besson.

Thursday (25/11)        22:00    ITV4      Lucy (2014). Luc Besson’s tale about a woman (Scarlett Johansson, in something of a career departure) who is tricked into working as a drug mule and is accidentally exposed to a large quantity of the stuff, causing her to develop heightened abilities and reduced emotions, so she becomes a bit of a psychopath. There’s also some time travel. Better, perhaps, to Just Say No. It was big box office. 

Friday (26/11)             23:55     BBC1    The Place Beyond the Pines (2012). Ryan Gosling as stunt rider Luke and Bradley Cooper as Avery, a cop, in the drama by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), who used material from his own life in the script. Luke reconnects with his ex, Romina (Eva Mendes) and their son Jason, and uses his bike skills in a number of heists. Avery and Luke cross paths after a failed robbery, when Avery pursues Luke to a stranger’s house and shoots him. Despite his own flaws, or because of them, Avery starts to gather information on the corruption of other cops.  The action switches to fifteen years later, when Avery is running for office, and the past visits the present.  


Saturday (20/11)         21:00   Talking Pictures   French Connection II (1975). Sequel to the more successful French Connection, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1971. Director John Frankenheimer apparently tried to avoid rehashing the first film, but there was a feeling it didn’t have to be made. Gene Hackman reprises his role as Popeye Doyle, pursuing drug overlord Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), this time in Marseilles. 

Sunday (21/11)            21:00   Paramount           Tombstone (1993). Western starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, based on the events of the gunfight at the OK Corral.  The supporting cast includes Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Charlton Heston, and Powers Boothe as a scary-sounding Curly Bill.  

Monday (22/11)          21:00    ITV4                      Mad Max (1979). The first in George Miller’s post-apocalyptic series about a police officer battling a motorcycle gang. This was before he turned to making films about talking pigs, and before Mel Gibson started getting religion. It spawned three sequels and there are two in development. The heart soars in anticipation.

Wednesday (24/11)    11:00    Film4                    The Tin Star (1957). Anthony Mann Western about a young sheriff (Anthony Perkins) who needs an older ex-sheriff, now a bounty hunter (Henry Fonda), to show him the ropes. A sheriff needs ropes. Fonda is a man of few words in the Jimmy Stewart mould: Stewart was asked first, but passed.

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