Freeview films from 12/3/2022

World Cinema

Saturday (12/3)       21:00    BBC4  Pain and Glory (2019). Pedro Almodóvar’s most heartfelt and near-autobiographical film, with Antonio Banderas as a tortured gay dramatist and Penelope Cruz as his mother (in flashback). A far cry from the Spaniard’s earlier essays in shock and awe and all the better for it. I have enjoyed a lot of Pedro’s recent output, although I was unmoved by The Human Voice, the Cocteau knock-off he did with the evergreen Ms Swinton during the lockdown and unconvinced by this year’s acclaimed Parallel Mothers, which was neither original nor plausible. (JM)

Tuesday (15/3)         01:15   Film4  White God (2014). An extraordinary parable by the Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó, in which ill-treated dogs band together and rise up against their oppressors. The political parallels are unavoidable, but it also convinces as a portrait of relationships between humans and animals. The animal-training expertise is awe-inspiring. Some people don’t like looking at simulated cruelty to animals, although they seem have less problem with simulated and lovingly elaborated cruelty to human beings. (JM)

Wednesday (16/3)   22:00   BBC4  Undercover OAP: The Mole Agent (2020). Not seen it, but I’m rather intrigued by this Chilean documentary, in which a man goes undercover into an old people’s home to discover what really happens. An excellent idea and apparently movingly executed. It is a feat unlikely to be duplicated here. It is a sad fact that places supposedly caring for our most vulnerable people are also intensely secretive. The blanket application of ‘privacy’ and ‘safeguarding’ has permitted a field-day for miscreants who have managed to work their way inside the bureaucratic ring of confidence, where ordinary concerned members of the public are unable to observe (and be appalled by) their activities. (JM)

Thursday (17/3)        00:55   Sky Arts   The Painter and the Thief (2020). Unusual documentary by Benjamin Ree, about a Czech artist (Barbora Kysilkova) who sets out to contact the Norwegian career criminal (Karl-Bertil Nordland) who was involved in the theft of two of her large-scale paintings. She invites him to sit for a portrait and the two develop an unlikely friendship, based on their affinity for art. The film uses footage of the pair’s courtroom meeting and CCTV of the robbery.

Friday (18/3)             01:35   Film4   Cold Skin (2017). Is a sub-genre developing?  The Lighthouse (2016 and 2019), The Light Between Oceans, To Keep The Light, The Vanishing (2018): all tap into the angst and mystery of isolation. In this drama, directed by Xavier Gens and set in 1914, Friend (David Oakes), a young Englishman, arrives at a South Atlantic island to replace the weather observer, who, it transpires, has disappeared.  He meets the only other occupant, Gruner (Ray Stevenson), who lives in an old fortified lighthouse, though it quickly becomes clear that the island is also visited by alien aquatic creatures who besiege the two of them. Spooky and shocking, raising questions about colonisation and who is really the invader. (JR)

Stephen’s Picks

Saturday (12/3)       21:00     Channel 4  Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (2019)  (also Tuesday 21:00). Quentin Tarantino’s most recent offering uses his recognisable visual and storytelling style to take us back to Hollywood in 1969. Leo DiCaprio stars as an over-the-hill Western star who is desperately holding on to his dwindling star power, and a career high Brad Pitt plays his stunt double, who may quietly be the brains of the outfit. They are living next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) on the eve of the Manson family’s attack. Tarantino merges horrible historical fact and nostalgic fiction in a way some loved and others (me: JM) thought was pretty repulsive. (MH)

23:10    Talking Pictures  The Knack …and How to Get It (1965). Richard Lester’s next film after A Hard Day’s Night, about Sixties sex, as experienced by Tolen (Ray Brooks), who thinks he knows about ‘The Knack’ and what he’s doing, and Colin (Michael Crawford), who doesn’t. When Colin falls for unsophisticated Nancy (Rita Tushingham), Tolen becomes a rival. There is some eccentric messing about in black and white, which was consideredl very swinging and liberated at the time. There are also cameo appearances by Jacqueline Bisset, Jane Birkin, Charlotte Rampling, Wanda Ventham and Dandy Nichols. I wonder if there is another film they were all in together? (JR)

Monday (14/3)         02:00    Film4  Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005). Quirky and touching indie, directed by and starring the Vermont-born polymath Miranda July as cab-driver-stroke-video-artist Christine, who meets shoe salesman and father of two Richard (John Hawkes) with an alternative take on life. Other strands involve Richard’s two sons, two teenage girls called Heather and Rebecca, and an older neighbour called Andrew.  It won the Camera d’Or at the 2005 Cannes Festival and the Special Jury Prize at Sundance and rightly so. Entertaining, clever, playful, intelligent. (JR)                 

23:15    BBC2  Shakespeare in Love (1998)  (also Thursday BBC4 21:00). A clever reimagining of some of Shakespeare’s most loved works and themes, set whilst Will is writing and casting Romeo and Juliet (working title, Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate’s Daughter). A characteristically aloof performance from Gwyneth Paltrow took an Oscar, as did Judi Dench’s characteristically memorable work as Queen Elizabeth I. It is charming, there are some clever touches, and if you don’t want to be taxed too much then you may enjoy it as a period romcom. If you want Shakespeare, there are many better options. (Both Zeferrelli’s and Luhrmann’s versions of Romeo and Juliet will certainly give more long lasting memories.) Aside from the acting gongs, the film won the Best Picture Oscar. (MH)

Wednesday (16/3)   16:25    Film4  The Tall T (1957). Most Westerns on TV in the afternoon seem to involve Randolph Scott, and this is no exception. Here he plays Brennan, a former ranch hand who encounters a trio of outlaws who kidnap an heiress, played by Maureen O’Sullivan. Though a lot of people get shot, traditional values can be restored. Adapted by Burt Kennedy from a short story by Elmore Leonard, and directed by Budd Boetticher. (JR)

Other modern films of interest

Saturday (12/3)        16:45    BBC2     Pride & Prejudice (2005). Rather lush adaptation by Joe Wright of Jane Austen’s most popular novel, with a fine cast including Keira Knightley as Elizabeth, Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn as Mr and Mrs Bennet, Rosamund Pike as Jane and Matthew McFadyean as Mr Darcy. It’s self-consciously Romantic but looks more luxurious than Austen implied and isn’t up to the standard of Ang Lee’s peerless Sense and Sensibility, though Knightley is always good. (JR)         

21:00    Great Movies     Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Written by the inimitable Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine is a labyrinthine tale of love and loss, starring Jim Carrey (playing against type again, after the Truman Show) opposite Kate Winslet. Carrey undertakes a futuristic mind alteration process to erase painful relationship memories. The Oscar-winning script internally follows his fracturing psyche attempting to assimilate. The narrative walks the line between very compelling and too confusing, and does not settle either way for me. (MH) [The ending, featuring Beck’s version of ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’, written by Bath-based James Warren of The Korgis, is fantastic: JM.]

Sunday (13/30            10:15    BBC2   Queen of Katwe (2016). Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo star in a cheerful film about a missionary who teaches some slum kids in Uganda how to play chess, with impressive results. Directed by the estimable British/Indian Mira Nair for Disney, who managed not to sanitise things too much.

22:00    BBC4    Seamus Heaney: The Music Of What Happens (2019). Documentary by Adam Low about the poet, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize, whose career spanned The Troubles. Made six years after his death and featuring his wife Marie and his three children talking about their life and reading his poems, together with reminiscences from his four brothers, who have not appeared in this way before.

Wednesday (16/3)   21:00    Sky Arts   Audrey: More Than An Icon (2020)  

Documentary, directed by Helen Coan, about the multi-talented Audrey Hepburn, covering her childhood in WWII, her ballet and acting careers, and her time as a UNICEF ambassador. Some critics felt it broke no ground, though still serving as a fitting tribute. When asked about Marilyn Monroe’s qualities, Billy Wilder said ‘She wasn’t my type. She was more provoking than provocative.  For me, personally, Audrey Hepburn was the embodiment of everything perfect in a woman.  And she was punctual.’ (JR)

Thursday (17/3)        22:55    BBC4   Iris (2001). Judi Dench and Kate Winslet star as the old, and young, Iris Murdoch in Richard Eyre’s touching film about the relationship between the extraordinary writer and her husband John Bayley (Jim Broadbent), including the cruel onset of Alzheimer’s in her seventies. (JR)


Saturday (12/3)     00:05    BBC1    The Witches of Eastwick (1987). Stellar cast of Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer as the three ‘witches’ Alexandra, Jane and Suki, whose comfortable Rhode Island world is turned upside down by the appearance of a mysterious, somewhat demonic single man, Darryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson in prime overacting form). He develops an interest in each of them, though the effect he has isn’t quite what he expects. The special effects served up by director George Miller are predictably over-the-top and it’s good fun, though given the feminist ‘reappraisal’ of John Updike that has happened since, it’s hard to see a film being made of his books now. (JR)

Sunday (13/3)        15:00    Sky Arts   Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)  (also Thursday 21:00). The finest Ealing Comedy, this is a wonderfully-told tale of the vengeful killing spree of Louis Mazzini, fuelled by greed and a family feud: he hits a snag in the shape of a love triangle. Told in flashbacks, through Louis’ memoirs written on the eve of his execution, with multiple roles played by Alec Guinness, It was voted sixth best British film of the 21st century by BFI British Film Institute. (MH)

Monday (14/3)      21:00    Talking Pictures     Equus (1977). Sidney Lumet’s version of Peter Shaffer’s highly-lauded stage play, about a young man who blinds horses and the psychological traumas that led him in that direction. Somewhat stagey but a valiant assault on a notable 1970s text.

2 thoughts on “Freeview films from 12/3/2022

  1. Thank you so much for your listings and the reviews. To be able to not only pick out the good ones and record them and also have a critical view is invaluable. So thank you for your time and effort again.

    1. Thank you Michele. Glad you’re enjoying them. Lots of good stuff on the free channels. Who needs Netflix?

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