Freeview films from 17 September 2022

World Cinema

Saturday (17/9)    21:00   BBC4             The Girl With a Bracelet (2019) 

Superb courtroom drama about a teenager accused of murder, spare in tone but rich in emotions and motives that are sometimes only half hinted at. Melissa Guers is excellent as Lise, the teen in the dock for killing her close friend Flora, though French courtrooms seem to be quite different from the British model, particularly in their exploration of personality and feeling. Roschdy Zem and Chiara Mastroianni play her bewildered parents Bruno and Celine, who realise that, although they might be responsible for some of their children’s behaviour, they have absolutely no control over it. Lise frequently confounds them and the officials of the court, in her responses, or her silences. Stephane Demoustier directed and wrote the screenplay, based on the Argentinian film Acusada. Demoustier’s sister Anais plays the formidable prosecuting attorney.  (JR)

Monday (19/9)     01:45   Film4            The Nile Hilton Incident (2017)

People want to call this an Egyptian noir, which is pretty lazy. It’s actually a tremendous political thriller about a nightclub singer in Cairo who is murdered by someone well-connected during the Mubarak era. A cop is sent to investigate and everything gets murky quickly. (JM)

Tuesday (20/9)     02:20    Channel 4    Pebbles (2021) 

A Tamil-language Indian film about a son with an unreliable, over-emotional and sometimes drunken father and a distant mother. Not seen it, but it has received some excellent reviews. (JM)

Friday (23/9)         01:25   Film4            The Beast (2019)

I’m not sure what this film is. There are about six with similar names. I’m fairly certain it’s not the American thing. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to check it out. Maybe one of Santa’s elves could help me out? (JM)

02:50   Channel 4    Mughal-E-Azam (1960) 

Sprawling historical Urdu-language melodrama that set the tone for what developed into Bollywood. Apparently 17 years in the making, it runs to three hours in some cuts. It was shot in black-and-white, but this may be the colorised version. Again, it would be nice to know, but finding out even simple things is really difficult now we live in the Information Society. (JM)

Stephen’s soaraway selection

Monday (19/9)         05:30   Talking Pictures   Twice Two (1933)  

Laurel & Hardy 20-minute short about two bickering couples. (JM)                                  

Wednesday (21/9)   23:35   Film4                     12 Years a Slave (2013)

Best Picture Oscar winner, adapted from the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free and educated black man who has to fight to survive after being dragged into slavery in 19th century Washington D.C. Being black was what counted. Steve McQueen (Widows, Hunger) directs strongly and extracts unsettling performances from an all-star cast, including frequent collaborator Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti and Paul Dano. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the lead, there is an Oscar-winning debut performance from Lupita Nyong’o. (MH)

Thursday (22/9)        06:00   Talking Pictures   Block-Heads (1938) 

Ingenious 55-minute Laurel & Hardy feature about a WWI American soldier (Laurel) who is so dedicated to his calling that he doesn’t realise that the war ended many years ago. Then he shoots down a private plane, is institutionalised and his friend (Hardy) comes to rescue him. (JM)

21:00   BBC4                     The Producers (1968)

Mel Brooks once again teams up with Gene Wilder for a provocative tale of a theatrical producer and his agent who hatch a complex plan to make money by putting on a show that they feel is guaranteed to fail. The result is a musical, Springtime for Hitler, a love-letter to the dictator. Unfortunately, the musical became success Brooks’ directorial debut won him the oscar for Best Original Screenplay. (MH) In those days Jews were allowed to make Holocaust jokes. Nowadays a a lot of people who may or may not have relevant experience had decided they mustn’t. Just ask my old chum Gerry Sadowitz, banned at Edinburgh by his own venue for making a joke about not being allowed to make jokes about the Holocaust. Look hard and you will be able to find the joke in question. Not the funniest ever. That was his joke about Nelson Mandela. (JM)(

Friday (23/9)              06:00   Talking Pictures   Way Out West (1937)

Among the best known of the Laurel and Hardy films, perhaps mainly because of the now legendary dance sequence, lovingly recreated in the ‘2015’ biopic Stan & Ollie. The mis-matched couple are sent ‘way out west’s to deliver the deed to a gold mine to the next in line, but become embroiled in a plot to steal the deed. To be expected, light hearted slapstick and gags abide, with the duo’s trademark delivery and a genuinely interesting plot. [MH]

14:15   BBC2                      The Red Shoes (1948) JR

Michael Powell’s postwar masterpiece, developed from a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, about the tension in a young woman’s life between her relationships and her dancing. The script was by Emeric Pressburger, (writing in his third language), originally for Merle Oberon before she went on a cross-country trip with David Niven and the producer bailed out. The things those Hollywood stars got up to. The original script was more of a romantic drama but Powell made the dance central and created a ballet-within-a-film.  In casting, he looked for a dancer who could act and according to Powell’s autobiography, the choreographer Robert Helpmann said ‘Oh – Moira. . . . You could do worse, I suppose. She’s spectacular-looking’. He also suggested Fonteyn: ‘Ninette [de Valois] thinks the sun shines out of Margot’s little arse’. Powell later described meeting Moira Shearer: ‘She was tall, . . . with the most glorious hair of Titian red that I had ever seen on a woman. And I’ve seen some. She had a cheeky face, well-bred and full of spirit. And she had a magnificent body. . . . After a few minutes’ conversation, I offered her the part [of Vicky Page]’. To be fair to Powell, he saw this as a film about images not words. The casting worked and Shearer went on to make two further films with Powell: Tales of Hoffman and Peeping Tom. The Red Shoes was nominated for five Oscars and won two. Anton Walbrook plays impresario Boris Lermontov, based on Diaghilev, and Marius Goring plays conductor Julian Craster.  Slightly related, Martin Scorsese’s editor Thelma Schoonmaker married Powell in later life, and Scorsese himself was influenced by Powell, partly because of his use of red.  (JR)

Other modernish films of interest

Saturday (17/9)    22:25   Sky Arts   Freddie Mercury, the Untold Story (2000)

Monday (19/9)      23:15   BBC2       Pawn Sacrifice (2014) 

Friday (23/9)          23:50   BBC1       Detroit (2017)

Oldies but Goldies

Saturday (17/9)     15:10   Film4                    The Great Escape (1963)  (also Wednesday 15:15)

This is the film which, perhaps more than any other, helped make Steve McQueen the enigmatic hero he was known as. The plot, based loosely on actual events, revolves around a group of prisoners of war in a concentration camp, who plan to escape by digging three tunnels, known as Tom, Dick and Harry. Also starring Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson and James Garner, and featuring some of the most recognisable music in film and the famous McQueen motorcycle jump. [MH]

16:25   Talking Pictures   Genevieve (1953)

Instead of endlessly banging on about HMQ (whom I liked and respected, BTW, as did the Republican ex-internee I met in County Galway), the BBC could have run this on loop. It’s about the love of old cars, and between men and women, with a lot lovely scenery and perfect performances by the leads: John Gregson, Kenneth More, Dinah Sheridan and Kay Kendall. It’s very funny, brilliantly observed and suffused with love. What more could anyone want? The London-Brighton vintage (or is it veteran) is still going, as are many other fantastically stupid and arbitrary British inventions, from Cheese Rolling to the Oxford Comma. Others are less healthy: parilamentary documentary, the Royal Mail, Policing, the British Army, the BBC. It has a splendid mouth-organ soundtrack by Larry Adler, Jew and blacklisted American leftist, who was still kicking around Soho when I worked there: he won the Oscar for this, and became very rich, but his name was removed from the credits in America. Anyway, I’ll shut up. Just watch it. The hot jazz trumpet sequence is still my favourite, but there are plenty of other cherishable moments. ‘ “Cherishable”, John Morrish’. I give permission for them to put that on the DVD box, though not the Blu-Ray. I hate Blu-Ray. (JM)

18:45   Film4                     Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

After George Lucas’s colossal success with Star Wars in the late ’70s, came his second best known creation, Indiana Jones. Directed by the perfect man for the job, Steven Spielberg, Indy’s first outing follows the death defying archaeological protagonist, played by Harrison Ford, as he hunts down the Ark of the Covenant. A fabled relic to make any army invincible, it is also a target of malevolent Nazi forces. This lighthearted yet perilous adventure formula has since become a blueprint for many sequels, and is a must see for fans of 1980s cinema. [MH]

Sunday (18/9)        21:00   Film4                     Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indy’s darker, second adventure helped to cement him into the cultural zeitgeist as one of the best loved and most iconic movie characters ever created. Once again he must track down a legendary artefact, which has been stolen. Again directed by Spielberg with music by the great John Williams, although it may not have quite reached the high watermark of the first, it is by no means a let down, and helped the franchise flourish further. [MH]

Monday (19/9)       13:35   Film4                     Destry Rides Again (1939)                            

Thursday (22/9)     22:30   BBC4                  Blazing Saddles (1974)

1874 Wild West. In a ploy to build a railroad for selfish means, a new sheriff is employed by the Governor of Rock Ridge. The story and comedy plays on the cowboy lore and archaic attitudes towards African Americans in the Wild West. The inimitable Gene Wilder stars alongside Cleavon Little as the mismatched team. Mel Brooks wrote alongside Richard Pryor, and brings his razor sharp wit and quickfire gags, mixing highly intelligent and referentiality with lowest common denominator, and also appears as the easily distracted governor, among other roles. [MH]

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