World Cinema

Sunday (20/2)         21:00   Great Movies Action    Das Boot (1981)  (also Thursday 16:20). Wolfgang Peterson’s 1981 Das Boot (The Boat) focuses as much on the monotony and claustrophobia of military submarine life as it does on the combat and excitement. The result is a deep, layered portrait of sub-aquatic warfare and those employed to practise it. We follow a German crew through patrols of the Atlantic during World War 2. (MH)

Saturday (19/2)      23:30   BBC4                             Young Ahmed (2019). The Dardenne Brothers’ account of a Belgian schoolboy who becomes radicalised, makes a feeble attempt at stabbing his Arabic teacher, and is then dragged into the liberal youth justice system, which makes clumsy efforts to deradicalise him. An involving character study and drama, which annoyed the more simple-minded and political critics, not least because of its focus on internecine tensions between two groups of immigrant parents: those who want their children taught useful demotic Arabic and those who think the language should be reserved for religious ritual. It’s very good and not often seen. (JM)

Monday (21/2)       01:35   Film4                              Videoman (2018) is a curious Swedish comedy-drama about a VHS collector who is on the track of a rare tape. He meets a woman obsessed with the 1980s and they form a relationship. Both are alcoholics. Only five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, from bloggers, but that wins it 100 per cent approval. Jennie Kermode of Eye For Film, who is a better critic than her inescapable male namesake, calls it ‘a touching portrait of two people coping with the stresses life throws at them by finding joy in little things and in each other’. (JM)

Thursday (24/2)      02:00   Film4                         Woman at War (2018). Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir brilliantly plays a choir-leading Icelandic eco-warrior (and her twin sister) in Benedikt Erlingsson’s comedy drama. Her target is the local aluminium plant, which she attempts to sabotage. But she also has to deal with the small matter of an adoption application, made years ago, which has unexpectedly brought into her life a four-year-old Ukrainian girl whose family were killed in war. There is a fine supporting cast and the striking and beautiful landscape also plays quite a part. (JR)

My Picks

Saturday (19/2)        21:00   Channel 4              Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)  (also Wednesday 21:00). So-so biopic about Freddie Mercury and his rise to global stardom with Queen. Rami Malik makes an excellent, spirited Freddie, but the film would have been a lot better without the self-regarding involvement of his bandmates and their ‘people’. (JM)

                            21:05   Talking Pictures    Kes (1969)  (also Thursday 21:00). Kes tells the story of Billy, a 15 year old boy from coal mining dominated South Yorkshire, played by first-time actor David Bradley. Bullied and ignored at school, ignored and bullied at home, he leads a pretty bleak life until chance leaves him a fledgling kestrel to care for. An instant bond is formed and the two grow together into a team. Multiple award winner Ken Loach directs his first feature with heart and unflinching realism. (MH)

Sunday (20/2)           23:30   Channel 4              Gone Girl (2014). David Fincher, director of Fight Club and Seven, expands his impressive catalogue with this adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel. After the mysterious disappearance of perfect wife Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) becomes the prime suspect for her killing and becomes a media figure as the case becomes a nationwide story. The case isn’t straightforward, and the untangling is deftly handled (MH).

Monday (22/2)         22:25    BBC3                     A Simple Favor (2018). Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters) directs Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in a contorted tale of shifting identity, infidelity, fraud and arson. All the ingredients, then.  Stephanie meets Emily at their children’s school and an exchange of confessions leads to obfuscation, misunderstanding and much worse. For fans of Legally Blonde, Linda Cardellini plays Emily’s mother. (JR)

Wednesday (23/2)   21:05   Talking Pictures   The French Connection (1971). William Friedkin’s 1971 crime thriller may still be best remembered for the central car chase. Effectively shot on real streets full of real people, it has since become stuff of film legend. The film also boasts one of Gene Hackman’s finest performances as ‘Popeye’ Doyle, a renegade New York cop who becomes obsessed with catching a French drug baron. (MH)

Thursday (24/2)        22:00   BBC4                    I, Tonya (2017). After being given her big break in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, Margot Robbie proves she’s not just a pretty face, with a committed, visceral performance as real-life Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, who was implicated in a scandalous physical attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. Her ruthless pursuit of success is fuelled by a miserable past and an overbearing mother, expertly played by Alison Janney. (MH)

Other modern films of interest

Sunday (20/2)            15:00   Channel 4    Wonder (2017). Well-meaning and calculatedly heartwarming feature about August Pullman, a boy with facial deformities who is refused mainstream schooling but subsequently enjoys movie-friendly fame and acceptance. Based on a New York Times bestselling true story. (JM)

Wednesday (23/2)    22:00   BBC4            Mission: Joy ( 2021). Louie Psihoyos and Peggy Callahan co-direct a dialogue between friends Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama over a five day period at the latter’ s residence in Dharamsala, as they talk about their experiences and the importance of finding happiness.  Made shortly before Tutu’s death from cancer at the age of 90. (JR)

Thursday (24/2)         23:55   BBC4            Price of Gold (2020). Running immediately after the excellent feature, I Tonya, this is a Storyville documentary about the attack on US skater Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Winter Olympics, in which her rival, Tonya Harding, was implicated. The truth took years to emerge. (JR)


Saturday (19/2)       23:40   Film4                      Jerry Maguire (1996). Tom Cruise plays Jerry, a high powered US sports agent who, after a sudden attack of conscience, is fired and left clinging on to a solitary client, played by Cuba Gooding Jr as grid-iron star Rod Tidwell. Cameron Crowe directs, and Renée Zellewegger (before she was persuaded to turn her face into an artwork) is Jerry’s love interest, in this charming, quotable romcom. Show me the money! (MH)

Sunday (20/2)          22:05   Talking Pictures    The Man from Snowy River (1982). Much-loved Australian Western, directed by George Miller (who subsequently hit it big with the animatronic anthropomorphic Babe), starring Kirk Douglas. Warm-hearted family-friendly paean to the rugged Aussie landscape and uncomplicated Aussie people. (JM)

Thursday (24/2)       07:30   Talking Pictures    Champion (1949). Unflinching boxing movie about a drifter (Kirk Douglas) who is hustled into prize-fighting and then comes to embrace the trade before losing his soul to the hedonistic opportunities it affords. Directed by Mark Robson and written by Carl Foreman from a story by Ring Lardner.

                11:00   Film4                     The Far Country (1955). Anthony Mann Western, set during the Yukon goldrush, starring Jimmy Stewart as an unwonted anti-hero, a corrupt lawman persecuting some cattlemen who foolishly head for the goldfields.

                                    23:15   Talking Pictures   Black Sunday (1977). Returning to the paranoid territory of The Manchurian Candidate, John Frankenheimer directs the screen version of Thomas Harris’s novel about a Black September group seeking to explode a Goodyear airship over the Super Bowl stadium, with the US President in the crowd. Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern and Marthe Keller star. Produced by the monstrous Robert Evans (Chinatown, Marathon Man), it was inspired by events at the Munich Massacre at the Olympics in 1972, when 11 Israeli athletes were killed. 

Friday (25/2)             02:05   Talking Pictures   The Day of the Locust (1975). British director John Schlesinger winnowed Nathaniel West’s taut novel about the baleful effects of Hollywood on the American psyche and turned it into a gaudy, surreal horror-satire that upset lovers of the book but pleased a lot of others. With Tod Hacket, Donald Sutherland and Karen Black as the would-be starlet who creates havoc in their lives.

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