Freeview films, March 5 to March 11, 2022

World Cinema

Monday (7/3)         23:15   BBC2      The Man with the Iron Heart (2017). Interesting dramatisation of one of the more extraordinary episodes of the Second World War, in which the Czech Resistance in London sent a couple of assassins to Prague to bump off Reinhard Heydrich, who did more to push through the Final Solution than anyone else, including A. Hitler. Directed by Frenchman Cédric Jimenez, in English, with an extraordinary cast including Rosamund Pike, Mia Wasikowska, Jack Reynor, Jack O’Connell and Abigail Laurie. Heydrich is played by Australian-born Jason Clarke and nice Stephen Graham is Heinrich Himmler. Note to Hollywood: it’s called acting. (JM)

Tuesday (8/3)          00:10   Film4     Ninjababy (2020). Clever Norwegian comedy-drama about a young woman (Kristina Kujath Thorp) who gets pregnant after a one-night-stand, leaves it too late to get an abortion, and then plans to have the baby adopted. The Ninjababy of the titles is an animated infant who pops up and gives her a lot of unwanted advice. Norwegian comedy is underrated (I still miss Dag). By coincidence, the cat I have been looking after has now decided to get pregnant. I’m going to make her watch it. (JM)

Wednesday (9/3)   23:10    Film4     Snowpiercer (2013). Bong Joon Ho’s crazy dystopian thriller about people waiting out climate apocalypse on a train that never stops. Class warfare duly ensues. Barking but quite exciting. With Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton, channelling Mrs Thatcher (she said), as a brutal military person. Tilda is definitely the best actor I know to be named after a diacritic, although I do have a soft spot for Franz Umlaut and Susanne Cedilla. Not to mention Emmanuel Macron.

Thursday (10/3)      01:45   Film4      Things to Come aka L’avenir (2016). Isabelle Huppert plays a middle-aged philosophy teacher whose life undergoes dramatic change when her mother dies, her husband leaves her and she finds unexpected freedom, maybe even to explore a relationship with a younger man. Mark Kermode describes Huppert’s performance as ‘note perfect’. The film looks gorgeous. Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve (Goodbye First Love and Eden). (JR) [Editor’s note: Mia appeared as an actress in an Olivier Assayas film, Late August, Early September (1998). They subsequently began a long relationship, though technically never married. Her mother was a philosopher, which puts the film a cut above a lot of French films set in a similarly talky milieu.]

Friday (11/3)            01:25   Film4      Happy as Lazzaro (2018). Extraordinary drama blending social realism and the magical variety. Directed by Alice Rohrwacher, who I have some idea a German-speaking Italian. Tobacco-farm workers in Italy live in near-slavery. Then a boy falls from cliff but comes back to life, acquiring mystical gifts. Widely misunderstood when shown by Cheltenham Film Society, some of whose members seemed not to be familiar with the concept of imagination. Mostly loved by critics, but Kevin Maher in The Times said ‘I found the film tendentious and sophomoric, and Lazzaro’s Forrest Gump imitation inevitably tedious.’ What a twat. (JM)

Stephen’s Picks

Saturday (5/3)   23:15    BBC3                   Election (1999). The first hit by Alexander Payne. Brilliantly funny and startlingly rude comedy about High School life (nominally: it’s really about grown-up democracy, especially the venal US variety]. Reese Witherspoon plays a driven would-be school politician and Matthew Broderick is the hapless, well-meaning teacher who becomes a pawn in her power game. Highly recommended. (JM)

Sunday (6/3)      02:10   BBC2                    The Levelling (2016). One of several stories of rural English misery current at that time. This one is set on the haunting (and possibly haunted) Somerset levels. A young vet returns to the family farm where her brother has killed himself. It’s grim down south. Trenchant writing and direction by Hope Dickson Leach and a wonderful lead performance by Ellie Kendrick. Highly acclaimed, but apparently a one-off for the director.

Tuesday (8/3)    21:00    Film4                    Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018). Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in a compelling real-life drama about fraud in New York literary circles. An alcoholic writer forges letters from famous authors and gets into lots of trouble. It happens.

                            23:15    BBC2                     Phantom Thread (2017). Paul Thomas Anderson’s beautiful feature follows high-fashion dress designer Reynolds Woodcock, an impossible perfectionist, through one of his many romantic flings, this time with Alma (Vicky Krieps). Woodcock is played by Daniel Day Lewis, in his final performance before announcing his retirement from acting (not for the first time). He employed his usual method-acting commitment for the role, becoming a dress maker’s apprentice for a year in preparation. (MH) [Editor’s prediction. Disparate Dan will be back.]

Friday (11/3)     23:05   Talking Pictures   Tales of Terror (1962). Three Edgar Allen Poe stories, directed by Roger Corman as a vehicle for Vincent Price. There is a particularly memorable wine-drinking scene, co-starring Peter Lorre.

Other modern films of interest

Saturday (5/3)        23:40   BBC4          Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War (2019). The films are the home movies of amateur cinematographer Harry Birrell, documenting his early life and loves in Scotland, and later his service in WWII in India and the Far East.  This documentary has been co-produced by his granddaughter Carina Birrell, who had 400 reels of film to choose from, and the result is both magnificent and poignant. (JR)

Sunday (6/3)           14:10   BBC2          McFarland, USA (2015). Kevin Costner, who seems to have become a sort of cinematic eminence grise (Molly’s Game, Hidden Figures), stars as Jim White, a football coach who in 1987 moves with his family to a job at a predominantly Latino High School in McFarland, California, where he sets up a cross-country team for a group of pupils with limited prospects.  The story is loosely based on White’s real life experience.  Directed by Nicky Caro. (JR)

                                  21:00   BBC2          Misbehaviour (2020). Comedy-drama about the 1970 Miss World contest, which was disrupted by women’s lib protesters because of its objectification of women, thereby ruining the night of only the second black woman to win it.  Fine performances by Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Miss Grenada, Rhys Ifans and  Keeley Hawes as Eric and Julia Morley, and Greg Kinnear as an egregious Bob Hope, who was hosting. For those who are interested, the locations used include the Rivoli Ballroom in Lewisham, Eltham Palace and  Hornsey Town Hall. (JR)

                                  21:00   Sky Arts     Tina (2021). Documentary about Tina Turner, with lots of footage and an interview with the legend herself. One of my most treasured things is a bootleg of the complete ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ sessions, with horrible Phil Spector pushing his star to the limits of her endurance. Wagnerian in every sense. And people think Hitchcock was nasty to women. What’s Love Got To Do With It indeed. (JM)

                                   23:00   Film4          You Were Never Really Here (2017). Joaquin Phoenix and his impressive beard play Joe, a destructive force of nature with a shady past who is hired to rescue a kidnapped girl from human traffickers. Do not be fooled though, this is not Taken: there is some real artistry here. Much of the violence is off-screen, and left to the imagination, which may be even more unbearable. Britain’s Lynne Ramsay directs. (MH)

Tuesday (8/3)          20:00   Sky Arts     The Conductor (2021) (also Wednesday 07:00). Documentary about Marin Alsop, protege of Leonard Bernstein, who became the first woman director of a major orchestra in the US, South America, Austria and Britain.  Directed by Bernadette Wegenstein. (JR)

Wednesday (9/3)    21:00   Sky Arts     Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018). Documentary directed by Susan Lacy, about the life and considerable achievements, in film and beyond, of the estimable Fonda, with contributions by Robert Redford, Sidney Pollack, Lily Tomlin, and a variety of politicians including Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who no doubt thought highly of her. It was rumoured that Fonda was considered for the role of Evelyn in Chinatown and although it went to Faye Dunaway, sometimes it feels like Fonda would have been great. (JR)


Saturday (5/3)   21:05   Talking Pictures   The Offence (1973)  (also Wednesday 21:05). Fascinating British noir venture by Sidney Lumet about a police detective (Sean Connery) who beats a rape suspect (Ian Bannen) and then finds himself on the other side of the law when the suspect dies. The film explores the brutalisation officers can experience through their exposure to violence, and the ambiguity of responses to it.  Lumet had previously worked with Connery in The Hill. Trevor Howard and Vivien Merchant also appear. (JR)

Friday (11/3)      13:00   BBC2                     It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Overlong but still pretty funny comedy directed by Stanley Kramer, about a group of motorists in California who happen upon a car accident involving a just-released ex-convict who was on the way to pick up his concealed loot. Before he dies, he gnomically tells them where it is buried, and the rest of the film is about the race between various car-loads of people who wouldn’t otherwise be seen dead doing exactly what they are now doing. Among the rapacious protagonists are Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Ethel Merman, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jonathan Winters and Peter Falk. Look out for the brief cameo by Buster Keaton near the end. (JR)

2 thoughts on “Freeview films, March 5 to March 11, 2022

  1. Hi John,

    I do agree with you, I found Happy as Lazzaro a wonderful and enchanting film.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Derek. It is a lovely film that needs a bit of patience and a willingness to embrace the nature of innocence. Splendid music, as well.

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