Freeview films 22/1/22 (a palindrome) to 27/1/22

World Cinema

Sunday (23/1)         01:25    BBC2                     Personal Shopper (2016) 

A powerful supernatural thriller by Olivier Assayas, the second film he has directed featuring Kristen Stewart, who plays Maureen, the personal shopper of the title, working for Kyra, an aloof and demanding supermodel absorbed with her wildlife ‘foundation’. Maureen has recently lost her twin brother Lewis and is convinced she is in communication with him beyond the grave, though doubts abound. On a trip to London for Kyra, Maureen starts to receive mysterious texts which she at first thinks are from Lewis, but they start to plumb her repressed psyche. Stylish, absorbing and shocking by turns, it’s basically unmissable.

Monday (24/1)       01:50    Film4                     Paradox (2017)

Hong Kong action film directed by Wilson Yip about a police inspector travelling to Bangkok to find his missing daughter, and encountering an organ-trafficking gang. Won or was nominated for a series of awards in the Hong Kong and Asian Film industries, including Best Action Choreography by Sammo Hung.

Wednesday (26/1) 02:00    Film4                     Clash (2016) 

Directed by Mohamed Diab and set entirely in a police van transporting a number of detainees arrested after the toppling of Egypt’s President Morsi in 2013. Premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Thursday (27/1)      00:25   Talking Pictures   The Girl with a Pistol (1968)

Monica Vitti stars as a Sicilian woman who is rejected by her lover and follows him to England, with a gun, in order to kill him. The theme derives from the local Sicilian tradition that she will be unable to marry until the offender is killed and her honour restored. It was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film and Vitti won the David di Donatello award for Best Actress. Mario Monicello directed.

                                   21:00   Talking Pictures   Woman Times Seven (1967)

Comedy-drama of seven episodes on the subject of adultery, with Shirley MacLaine starring in each. Directed by Vittorio de Sica and featuring Alan Arkin, Rossano Brazzi, Michael Caine, Peter Sellers, Anita Ekberg and Robert Morley, among others. They don’t seem to make that kind of thing any more.

Stephen Ilott’s Picks

Saturday (22/1)        22:50     Paramount          Starship Troopers (1997) 

Directed by Paul Verhoeven and based on Robert Heinlein’s novel about a military elite battling an alien species. Verhoeven disliked the original book and refused to read it all. He also apparently agreed to direct a nude scene while nude himself, after the actors insisted. Hitchcock probably wouldn’t have. The film is now seen as part political satire and Verhoeven claimed it anticipated Donald Trump. At least someone did.

Sunday (23/1)           01:05    Talking Pictures   The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

The film that featured David Bowie’s first major acting role. Nick Roeg’s previous as director was Don’t Look Now, though the dreaminess here probably owes more to Walkabout. From here on, it was kind of downhill, the next being Bad Timing. Bowie plays an alien from a drought-ridden planet come to find solutions on Earth. Good luck with that. Candy Clark plays the lover he meets. Was praised for its stunning visuals, though the cut of twenty minutes made it less comprehensible. Meat Loaf sold about the same number of albums as Bowie, apparently.

                                    14:00    Channel 4             Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Wes Anderson’s delightful first venture into animation, based on Roald Dahl’s book about the battle between farmers and a family of thieving foxes. George Clooney and Meryl Streep provide the voices for Foxy and Felicity Fox. The voices of Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, Owen Wilson and even Jarvis Cocker feature.

Wednesday (26/1)   21:00    Film4                      Wind River (2017)

Taylor Sheridan’s chilly neo-Western, set on Wind River Indian Reservation, with Elizabeth Olsen as an inexperienced, idealistic detective (Jane Banner) pitted against local agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), who has discovered the body of a murdered young woman in a remote location. Sheridan was inspired to write it by the high incidence of indigenous women who become victims of sexual assault and/or murder. He has a good track record, having written Sicario and Hell or High Water before this, each giving a fresh take on aspects of the US we thought we were familiar with.

Thursday (27/1)        14:40    Film4                      Hatari! (1962)

Directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, this is described as a romantic comedy adventure, however unlikely that sounds. It follows a group in Tanganyika who capture animals for zoos and circuses, and features scenes of animal trapping techniques which aren’t used now. Sounds completely distasteful.

Other modern films of interest

Sunday (23/1)       02:05     Sky Arts    Gregory Porter: Don’t Forget Your Music (2016)

Documentary by Alfred George Bailey about Porter’s journey from his childhood in Bakersfield to international acclaim.

                               22:00    BBC2         The Souvenir (2019)

Joanna Hogg’s superb drama about Julie, a film student (Honor Swinton Byrne), who meets a charming and mysterious man (Anthony – Tom Burke) and begins a live-in relationship with him, and then begins to discover things about him she hadn’t expected. Very English but at the same time untypical of English cinema output. Swinton Byrne’s real-life mother Tilda Swinton features memorably as Julie’s mother. A sequel, The Souvenir II, has just been released.

Monday (24/1)      23:00    BBC4          John Curry: The Ice King (2018)

Documentary by James Erskine about the British skater John Curry, who was very influential in transforming ice skating from a macho sport into an art form, and in being the first openly gay Olympian.

Thursday (27/1)    22:55    Film4          Ex Machina (2014)

Written and directed by Alex Garland, in which a young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is invited to help evaluate the human qualities of an advanced android (Alicia Vikander). Was nominated for numerous awards and won many, including the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

                               23:15    BBC2          The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008) 

Based on John Boyne’s novel and directed by Mark Herman (Brassed Off, Little Voice). A young German boy, Bruno, whose family goes to live in the Polish countryside, meets Shmuel, a Jewish boy in what seems to be a farm but is actually a concentration camp. Seen as problematic by critics and academics because of the lack of realism and the blurring of lines between victims and perpetrators, possibly exacerbated by the positive reaction from younger viewers. Asa Butterfield plays Bruno, and David Thewlis and Vera Farmiga are his parents. Sheila Hancock also features.

Friday (28/1)          21:00    BBC4          Mystify: Michael Hutchence  (2019)

Documentary by Richard Lowenstein about the former frontman of INXS, using rare footage and contributions from Kylie Minogue, Bono, fellow band members, among others. Felt to be an intimate portrait that would appeal to fans as well as casual viewers.


Saturday (22/1)     23:50   ITV4                       Ronin (1998) 

A Ronin is a samurai without a lord or master. Robert De Niro and Jean Reno are members of a gang hired to steal a briefcase. Chiefly memorable for the great car chases. Directed by John Frankenheimer and written by J D Zeik and David Mamet.

Sunday (23/1)        13:45   Talking Pictures   Laura (1944)

Classic Hollywood noir, directed by Otto Preminger, with Gene Tierney as the mysterious Laura and Dana Andrews as the NY police detective investigating her murder. Clifton Webb is an obsessive newspaper columnist and Vincent Price is Laura’s feckless fiance. Rated one of the ten best mystery films of all time.

Thursday (27/1)     20:00    BBC4                    Rancho Notorious (1952)

One of only three Westerns directed by Fritz Lang, starring Marlene Dietrich as Altar, who owns a ranch called the Chuck-a-Luck, a term associated with a game of three dice. Arthur Kennedy plays a ranch hand searching for the murderer of his fiancee, which leads him to Altar’s door.

Friday (28/1)           23:25    BBC1                   Westworld (1973)   

Written and directed by Michael Crichton and the inspiration for the more recent HBO TV series. A futuristic adult theme park contains lifelike androids which unexpectedly begin to malfunction. Yul Brynner plays The Gunslinger, an android who is supposed to engage in simulated gunfights with the guests but who goes a bit off-piste. Generally well-reviewed by critics, though the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes was that Brynner ‘gives a memorable performance as a robotic cowboy’. With friends like that . . .

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