World Cinema

Saturday (4/6)       21:00    BBC4             Lullaby (2019). Sorry, I’ve drawn a blank. It could be Chicheka Lullaby, from Iran. Or it could be Perfect Nanny aka Lullaby, from France. Or it could be Lullaby (2014) from the USA, but that wouldn’t count as World Cinema, the USA not really being part of the world as the rest of us know it. (JM)

Sunday (5/6)          01:10    Channel 4    Raw (2016). This is that French shocker about a vegetarian veterinary student who develops a craving for meat. All meat, a real treat. Spoiler: she’s not averse to the odd meat puppet, either. (JM)


01:15     BBC2           Apprentice (2016). Interesting thriller from Singapore about a young prison officer who gets friendly with an older colleague, who happens to be the prison’s hangman. And there’s a twist. Various commentators on IMDb comment that the film couldn’t be made in America, because there the judicial killings are relatively unproblematical, being quasi-scientific affairs using lethal injection or electrocution. Yeah, right. (JM)                        

Monday (6/6)         01:40    Film4           The Ground Beneath My Feet (2019)  

Marie Kreutzer’s psychological mystery about a driven business executive (Lola, played by Valerie Pachner), who, apart from pursuing an important deal, is also having an affair with her boss Elise (Marie Horbiger). She also has responsibility for her suicidal sister Conny (Pia Hierzegger), who is in a psychiatric hospital and whom she doesn’t publicly acknowledge.  Then she starts getting phone calls which she initially thinks come from Conny but starts to have doubts.  Creepy, chilling, fascinating. German with subtitles. (JR)

Cultures clash, then attempt to reconcile..

Wednesday (8/6)   01:35    Film4           Embrace of the Serpent (2015). I love this film. Dream-like, phantasmagorical, black-and-white adventure about some European explorers heading up the Amazon and learning all sorts of unwelcome psychedelic truths about themselves and the universe. Not particularly popular when we showed it at Cheltenham Film Society in 2017-18.

Thursday (9/6)       01:55    Channel 4   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. I liked this film so much I used a still on the front of my personal webpage ( Maybe I still do. I don’t look at it very often. Too busy working to curate a museum to myself. (JM)

Stephen Ilott’s Picks

Saturday (4/6)        15:15    BBC1                     Toy Story 2 (1999)  (also BBC3 Friday 19:00)

Pixar are now rightly world renowned as the leaders of their field, yet at this time they were still a relatively new name in the animation industry. They had the daunting task of following up the near- perfect first film, from 1995. Some claim that with the arrival of the third film they had built the strongest trilogy in film. The milieu and the cast are significantly expanded without sacrificing affection for Woody, Buzz and the whole gang, as they embark on a quest to rescue one of their own. Naturally, there is a lot of learning about life. It’s the one where Woody falls in with Jesse the Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), and includes a nice grouchy turn from Kelsey Grammar (when he was good) as Pete the Prospector. And Randy Newman once again provides music and songs, of course. This is not just a kids’ film; it seems to appeal to people of all ages, races, shapes, sizes, orientations, pronouns, etc. That is quite an achievement. (MH/JM)

Sunday (5/6)           21:00    Great Movies      The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Wes Anderson’s distinctive skills and aesthetic come together in admirable harmony to create his most acclaimed and endearing work to date. It’s a kind of compendium of stories about lobby boy Zero, played by Tony Revolori, and his adventures in the titular establishment, under the wing of the concierge (Ralph Fiennes in comic form). The colour palette, cinematography and framing all contribute to the film’s lasting effect, and the accomplished performances from established stars don’t hurt. (MH)

Tuesday (7/6)          21:00    Sky Arts                I Am Alfred Hitchcock (2021) 

Documentary by Joel Ashton McCarthy that initially seems slightly reverential but soon comes up with some interesting material about the life and career of the ‘clown prince of British cinema’: for example, his fight for artistic freedom in Hollywood, particularly when working with the controlling David O Selnick, and the role played by his assistant Joan Harrison, a free spirit who it seems was also the model for the blondes who appeared (and were tortured) in so many of his later films.  Hitchcock’s interest in perversity comes under some scrutiny, particularly his own attraction to, and anger with, powerful independent women. Psycho figures prominently, and it is clear how much was riding on it, both financially and in terms of Hitchcock’s reputation.  The only person interviewed is Hitchcock himself but there are spoken contributions from, among others, his daughter Patricia, his granddaughters, Hitchcock blonde Tippi Hedren, and directors John Landis, Edgar Wright and William Friedkin. (JR)

Thursday (9/6)       

00:00   Talking Pictures    Goodbye, Columbus (1969) . From a novella by Phillip Roth, a story of a young working-class army veteran intellectual (OK, Phillip Roth) meeting a wealthy and entitled princess (McGraw) from a different stratum of Jewish life. She doesn’t use contraception. Oops! Richard Benjamin, who plays Phil (OK, the character is called Neil), liked McGraw. ‘The camera looks into your soul, and it looked into Ali’s. Men loved her, women loved her. She was a real movie star.’

Friday (10/6)           22:45    ITV                         The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 

Alongside some quite remarkable company (It Happened One Night, 1934, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975), The Silence of the Lambs won all of the ‘big five’ Oscars: Director, Picture, Actor, Actress and Screenplay. This is a famously chilling adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel, which shows us nervous FBI agent Clarice Starling investigating a series of grotesque killings. She uses first-hand knowledge acquired from murder Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, who stole the show despite appearing for only 16 minutes) to help solve the case, but gets much too close for comfort. (MH) Anybody remember why it is called The Silence of the Lambs? (JM)

Other modern films of interest

Saturday (4/6)          19:30   Channel 4          Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In (2021) 

Directed by his son Jason, this is really an interrogation of Ferguson’s memory, occasioned by his brain haemorrhage in 2018.  He was afraid of losing ‘all those memories’ and we see what he wrote down in hospital in an effort to keep hold of them.  Happily he doesn’t seem to have forgotten very much and most of the film focuses on his tough upbringing in Glasgow, his driven approach to management and his relationships. There is also poignancy, in his own departure as a player from Rangers after a Cup Final defeat: he attributes that to his wife Cathy being a Catholic, and he says he should have told the Rangers director who asked about it to ‘fuck off’. The narrative also feels like a real dive into history, given what has happened to Manchester United since 2005 under the ownership of the Glazer family, and the challenges posed by the pressing football played by Manchester City and Liverpool.  The United of today looks quite unlike Ferguson’s, but the film captures the joy of seeing players like Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona in United colours (both are interviewed) and the consummate moment of the 1999 European Cup win.   (JR)


20:00   BBC2                   Mr. Holmes (2015). Ian McKellan as Sherlock in old age, struggling with dementia and needing to remember the details of an old case. Nothing to do with Arthur Conan Doyle, but Sherlock has been out of copyright for yonks, so he’s fair game. Isn’t he, Messrs Gatiss and Moffat?


21:00   Great Movies    The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004).

Another quirky, eccentric tale from the colourful mind of Wes Anderson. This time Bill Murray takes centre stage as a marine researcher who becomes obsessed with hunting down a beautiful, fabled shark who may have eaten his friend. This Jacques Cousteau/Moby Dick inspired work may lack some of the infectious charm of some of his other films, but still has respectable humour and some wonderful moments. And of course there is an excellent array of big names in smaller roles. (MH)

21:00   Sky Arts              The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (2009)

The minimalist and rebarbative rockers tour Canada. At the time people thought Jack and Meg White were brother and sister. Then we discovered they were ex-spouses. Gimmicks come no stranger. (JM)

Sunday (5/6)             21:00   BBC4                   Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (2019). Chatwin was a wonderful writer but he is somewhat in the shade because he wasn’t properly ‘remote’ in anthropological terms (neither was Margaret Mead or Claude Levi-Strauss) and because he made stuff up. Werner Herzog was his friend and knew him when he was dying of AIDS. In this perambulation, the German director follows in his footsteps and ponders his legacy, which is important. Songlines is to me one of the most important books of the 20th century, despite its inaccuracies.  (JM)

Tuesday (7/6)            19:00   Sky Arts              Oscar Peterson: Black + White (2020). Biographical documentary about the Canadian jazz pianist. I don’t know much about him, I’m sorry to say. Apparently as a child his Dad made him listen to Art Tatum, and he thought the older man was two people playing at once. Then his Dad added that Tatum was blind. Oscar didn’t touch the piano for two months, but then he got back in the saddle. Kids, don’t compare yourself with other people. There was only one Django, and he only had about two and a half working fingers on his left hand. But there’s only one you, too. Be your best you. (JM)

Wednesday (8/6)      22:00   BBC4                  The Falklands Play (2002)   

Compelling and convincing television play written by Ian Curteis, and directed by Michael Samuels, about the British military response to the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands, a British territory, in 1981.  It was originally meant for broadcast in 1985 but due to what Curteis called a ‘liberal conspiracy’ at the BBC, was not shown until 2002.  Patricia Hodge plays Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and anti-Thatcherites should be warned that she comes over well in this account, being both decisive and humanely concerned about the casualties on both sides.  Some 255 British service personnel were lost, three Islanders and 649 Argentinians.  Part of the challenge for the British is getting the Americans involved, particularly as President Ronald Reagan refers to the conflict as ‘this little dispute about that little bunch of ice-cold islands down there’.  James Fox plays Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, who resigned early on to be replaced by Francis Pym (Jeremy Child), to whom Thatcher has to give a stern lecture. John Standing plays Willie Whitelaw and John Woodvine plays Admiral of the Fleet Terence Lewin.  In that lecture, Thatcher says the only justification for war is ‘a struggle [by a people] for law against force . . . against a brutal effort to impose on them a life and language and laws which are not theirs and which they do not want’.  No prizes for guessing what she would make of events today. (MH) (She’d love them. JM)


Sunday (5/6)   17:00   ITV         Back to the Future Part III (1990)

Robert Zemeckis takes his time-travelling antics back to the Wild West for their third outing. Classics of the Western genre are referenced with pleasing affection from series regulars Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F Wilson and a certain DeLorean time machine. And there’s a lovely performance by Mary Steenburgen as Doc’s love interest. The cleverness, especially of the writing, may have slightly dipped here, but it is still extremely likeable and deserves its place in the trilogy. (MH)

Noir encounters in Raymond Chandler’s sharply scripted romantic thriller

Friday (10/6)   15:00   Film4     The Blue Dahlia (1946). The offstage drama is more interesting than the film, a noir vehicle for Alan Ladd. Ladd was supposed to go back into the army, but the studios wanted to make another film with him. So they bought a story from a Dulwich College educated former oil executive called Raymond Chandler. Chandler had never written a script and was alcohol-dependent. He started and got stuck, saying he could only write drunk. So they put him in a bungalow on the lot and allowed him to drink more or less continuously for – it is said – several weeks: he stayed alive thanks to glucose injections. In the event, the whole farrago was for nothing: the rules changed and Ladd didn’t have to go back into uniform. Still, a drunken Chandler was better than most of Dulwich’s alumni sober. Not P G Wodehouse, I admit, but, well, dare I say Nigel Farage (Dale Vince’s new best friend, environmentalists please note). (JM)

Leave a Reply

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