World Cinema

Saturday (19/3)        22:00   BBC4       Burning (2018).

Mesmerising mystery-thriller from South Korean director Lee Chang-dong. A struggling young man meets a mysterious woman he used to know. She asks him to look after her cat, then introduces him to a richer rival with a dangerous preoccupation. A 148-minute dreamscape, based on a Haruki Murakami novel, which entranced the critics. ‘When the lights came up, I found myself unable to tear my eyes from the screen in a way that comes only a few times each year, largely able to forgive the film of its occasional flaws,’ wrote Matt Cipolla of Film Monthly, who saw it at Cannes in 2018. (JM)

Sunday (20/3)           01:50   Film 4      Climax (2018).

Some dance students go to a remote building for a celebration, someone unknown spikes their sangria with acid, and all sorts of weird and horrible shit happens. I’ve written about this several times and not got round to watching it, so here’s someone else’s take: ‘Youth culture gets a taste of its own medicine in Gaspar Noé’s apocalyptish musical. In the latest goofy provocation from a director who never saw a space—dank dungeon or sunny bedroom—upon which he couldn’t unleash a swirly-twirly camera, Noé puts a pansexual, multicultural dance troupe through its paces before sending them to hell.’ That’s Michael Koresky in Film Comment. I like his writing, don’t you? After that positive start, he ends up pouring a bucket of ordure on not-so-young Gaspar, and it sounds richly deserved. (JM)

Wednesday (22/3)   22:00    BBC4       The Distant Barking of Dogs  (2017) 

Danish documentary directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont, of especial poignancy given current events, about a year in the life of Oleg, a 10 year old growing up in Donbass during the war there. Oleg’s mother is dead and he is looked after by his grandmother. Heart-rending and brilliant, it won the 2019 Cinema Eye Honour and the Best First Appearance award at the 2017 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival. (JR)

Thursday (24/3)        01:10   Film4       The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion (2018)

I’ve written about this one before, too. In Park Hoon-jung’s near-future horror, a young woman has had some sort of medical procedure that has turned her into some kind of ultra-violent avenging angel. I don’t like these films, but here’s someone who does: ‘With a clever shift that pulls out the rug, one that rewrites and redefines everything that came before—in a good, earned way, not a cop-out, plot-twist-out-of-nowhere way—The Witch: Part 1—The Subversion does what it promises, subverting expectations and delivering a kick-ass, bloody action/horror/sci-fi hybrid.’ Brent McKnight of The Last Thing I See, a blog, but a good one. (JM)

                                     23:15   BBC2       Tango With Putin (2021)

Storyville documentary by Vera Krichevskaya, about her colleague Natalya Sindeyeva and their experience setting up the independent Dozhd TV in 2010, and the difficulties they encountered with censorship. As of this month, the Russian government blocked access to Dozhd, which is hardly surprising given recent events. (JR) [Here’s a YouTube clip about the channel, made as it was being shut down, although I just had to fight my way past an ad for a ‘revolutionary ear-wax remover’ in order to get to it. Thank you for that, Big Google. JM.]

Stephen Ilott’s Picks

Saturday (19/3)       21:00      ITV4                         Mad Max 2 (1981)   (also Tuesday 23:40)

Part 2 of the Mad Max franchise, directed by George Miller, and starring Mel Gibson. Max helps a small community deal with a group of bandits. Was well received by critics and popular with audiences. There have already been two further sequels and no doubt there will be more. (JR)

Tuesday (22/3)         13.35     Talking Pictures      Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

One of those tense, low key thrillers the Brits were good at in the Sixties, like Bunny Lake is Missing and The Shuttered RoomKim Stanley is Myra, a medium who is losing her grip, and Richard Attenborough is her ineffectual husband who is persuaded to kidnap a child, Amanda, so Myra can gain publicity by ‘solving’ the case. Mark Eden and Nanette Newman play Amanda’s wealthy parents. Directed by Bryan Forbes. Stanley was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for her performance.  Did you know Nanette Newman sang backing vocals on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’?  (Actually that was a different Nanette Newman). (JR) [This one married the director and became a major soap star, literally, as the leading lady in a series of Fairy Liquid ads. Forever blowing bubbles. JM.]

                                    00:15     BBC2                        The Elephant Man (1980)

An unusually moving drama from David Lynch, about a historical figure: Joseph (commonly named John) Merrick, played by the late, great John Hurt. He became publicly known as The Elephant Man, because of his severe deformities. Set in Victorian London, with a Dickensian feel, and filmed in black and white, this is a bleak tale of cruelty towards abnormality. But Anthony Hopkins’ Dr Treves and others provide some more relatable kindness. (MH)

Wednesday (23/3)   21:00     ITV4                          Jaws (1975)

Steven Spielberg’s seminal 70s thriller is commonly credited with creating the ‘Summer Blockbuster’ studio offering, which has since become an industry staple. This now legendary film follows a small crew of shark hunters, trying to make the waters around Amity Island in New England safe for the tourism boom, after a short attack claims the life of a resident. Featuring a strong trio of leads (Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss) and perhaps the most recognisable score in all of film, from John Williams. (MH)

Thursday (24/3)        00:00     Sky Arts                   The Great Buster (2018)

The late Peter Bogdanovich’s final film is an affectionate documentary about the much-loved Buster Keaton, innovative genius of silent movies. With contributions from Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, Frank Capra, Quentin Tarantino, Cybill Shepherd and others. Maybe someone will explain to me one day why Steve McQueen felt it necessary to recreate the falling house scene from Steamboat Bill.  I’m sure there was a good reason, I just don’t know what it is. (JR)

Friday (25/3)             22:55     Talking Pictures      The Raven (1963) 

Roger Corman’s version of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem of the same name, with a great cast including Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court and Jack Nicholson (that one, described by one critic as ‘young and awkward’). In 1506, a sorcerer (Price) mourns his dead wife and tries to find her ghost, with the help of a wizard who has inconveniently been transformed into a raven (Lorre) and the hindrance of an evil doctor (Karloff). Described by Colin Greenland in Imagine magazine as ‘not so much a raven, more a bit of a lark’. (JR)

Other modern films of interest

Wednesday (23/3)     01:05    Channel 4    Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Emma Stone and Steve Carell star as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, pitched against each other in a tennis challenge to prove who can win on the court – but also in a wider sense. King was 30 at the time and had recently helped form a breakaway women’s tennis circuit, triggered by the disparities in prize money. Riggs was 55. A lot depended on the result. Despite strong performances by the two leads and by Andrea Riseborough as King’s hairdresser and lover, Brian Tallerico of Roger Ebert said the film didn’t hit as hard as King did on the court. (JR) [Written by Brit Simon Beaufoy of Full Monty and Slumdog Millionaire fame, it’s pretty funny. Acclaimed as ‘one of the best lesbian films I’ve ever seen’ by Heather Hogan of Autostraddle. Maybe Andrew could be persuaded to put it on as one of the Eclectic Cinema’s Queer Cinema films? People of all sexualities and none like a laugh. JM]

                                     01:30    Film4            Looking for Eric (2009)

A disillusioned middle aged postman is under considerable stress from his estranged wife and unruly children, who have become involved in criminal activity which invades his home life. While drunk, he is visited by a vision of the enigmatic Manchester United football legend Eric Cantona, played effortlessly by . . . Eric Cantona. Ken Loach’s film has heart and comedy. (MH)

                                      21:00    Sky Arts        Listen to Me Marlon (2015)

Documentary by Stevan Riley about Marlon Brando, which won awards from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and Peabody. The film is unusual in that it comprises extracts from private tapes made by Brando himself in various settings, including business meetings, and therapy, interestingly. The horror, the horror. Or maybe not. (JR) [CIFF director and one-time child star Leslie Sheldon, who trained in the Actors’ Studio, has a good Brando story. Ask him if you see him. JM]

Friday (25/3)               22:00    BBC3             County Lines (2019).

Micro-budget Britflick, with a title and plot plucked from the headlines about drug-driven council-estate life. Not seen it, but it apparently rises above that unpromising start to become rather good. For those who like this kind of thing, I recommend a visit to Cheltenham Magistrates Court. Justice must be seen to be done. JM.


Saturday (19/3)          22:45   Horror Channel    Dead Ringers (1988)

David Cronenberg’s psychological horror, starring Jeremy Irons as both twins, Elliott and Beverly, who work as Toronto gynaecologists, dealing with fertility issues. Elliott is the more confident and outgoing of the two.  When a new patient arrives, actress Claire(Genevieve Bujold), both twins become involved with her and things spiral out of control.  he film references a real-life case, of Stewart and Cyril Marcus, who were found dead in separate rooms of their Manhattan apartment. Irons won numerous awards for his performance(s). Roger Ebert described it as ‘like a collaboration between med school and a supermarket tabloid’. It doesn’t have the mesmerising sheen of Maps to the Stars but it is compelling. (JR)

Sunday (20/3)             15:00   Sky Arts               Hue and Cry (1946)   (also Thursday 21:00)

Generally felt to be the first Ealing comedy, about a group of street children who get mixed up with some criminals who seem to following the plots in a comic book. Directed by Charles Crichton (who ended his career with A Fish Called Wanda), and starring Alistair Sim, Jack Warner and Joan Dowling. (JR)

Tuesday (22/3)           23:15    BBC2                  Educating Rita (1983)  

Michael Caine stars opposite Julie Walters in this classic 80s comedy drama, directed by Lewis Gilbert and written by Willy Russell, about an alcohol-dependent university professor (Caine) and an unlikely-seeming mature student who is looking for a brighter future and to break the class barrier keeping her out of higher education. They have a relationship and learn from each other and each other’s lives. Heartwarming and not stupid, Educating Rita won multiple acting awards upon release. (MH)

Wednesday (23/3)     12.40   Film4                  Detective Story (1951)

Kirk Douglas stars as McLeod, an aggressive, driven detective, in William Wyler’s noir, centring on an investigation into an illegal abortionist. McLeod’s wife (Eleanor Parker) has a troubled past, which complicates the case. Nominated for four Oscars including Best Director and Best Actress. [JR]

Friday (25/5)               23:25   5Star Thelma & Louise (1991)

After a would-be rapist is shot and killed in self defence, two friends, timid Thelma and fun-loving Louise, flee the police, escaping dull lives and overbearing partners. Oscar winners Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon star as the titular characters, alongside Brad Pitt in his first really recognised Hollywood role. Scored by Hans Zimmer and directed by Ridley Scott, earning him his first Oscar nomination. (MH)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *