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Monday, 2 March 2015

TV MOVIE PICKS (UK) Monday, March 2 - Sunday, March 8


TERRESTRIAL: It’s Crufts week on Channel 4 and, in a bit of canny canine scheduling, they’re also showing 2002’s magnificent low-budget horror Dog Soldiers (Friday, 00:25). A team of squaddies (including the excellent Sean Pertwee) on manoeuvres in the Scottish Highlands comes face to slavering maw with a community of merciless lycanthropic beasts. Neil Marshall’s debut is one of the best werewolf films ever made (not that there’s a lot of competition, I know), an action-packed, blackly-comedic monster masterpiece that will leave you breathless. Marshall hasn’t come close to matching its quality since.



Also showing: 21 Jump Street (Sunday, 
21:00, Channel 5) Likable buddy cop comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The Conspirator (Wednesday, 01:35, Channel 4) Robert Redford directs James McAvoy and Robin Wright in a gripping courtroom drama set in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Gladiator (Friday, 22:40, ITV) Russell Crowe is beyond butch in Ridley Scott’s all-action Roman revenge drama. Joaquin Phoenix steals the show though.

CABLE & SATELLITE: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (Friday, 01:00, 
Film 4) was made in Germany in 1926 for $2million (a massive budget back then) and is one of the most famous and influential films not just of the silent era but of all time. Set in 2026, it combines elements of sci-fi and gothic horror to expose the rot at the core of a magnificent future city reliant on slave labour and the eventual revolt that takes place there. Story-wise the film is all over the place but visually it is a sumptuous feast for the eyes as flying contraptions, steam-belching grand machines, and jaw-dropping architecture jump out at you from every frame. And that's without even mentioning the still-amazing robot transformation sequence. Sadly, the original print of the movie was lost and with it a quarter of the film. But the version being shown this week is as close to definitive as we are ever likely to get, featuring as it does 25 minutes of footage found in Argentina in 2008 and painstakingly restored.



Also showing: Only Lovers Left Alive (from Friday, 10:00 and 22:05, Sky Movies Premiere) Jim Jarmusch’s arch vampire tale boasts fantastic turns from Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. Mysterious Skin (Thursday, 01:20, Film4) Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent in a disturbing and melancholy tale of child abuse. Lost Highway (Wednesday, 23:00, Syfy) Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette plays two roles as fantasy and reality collide in David Lynch’s surreal thriller.

VOD: Simply put, Nightcrawler (Virgin Movies, BT TV, Sky Store etc) was one of last year’s finest movies with a career-best performance from Jake Gyllenhaal at its centre. The Brokeback Mountain actor plays Lou Bloom, a twitchy, hollow-eyed sociopath who spends his time trying to make cash anyway he can. Armed only with a cheap video camera and the morals of an alley cat he sets himself up as a roving reporter filming car crashes and violent crime for a Los Angeles news network every bit as venal as he is. Writer/director Dan Gilroy’s film works as a fascinating character study (Bloom is an antihero as intriguing as Rupert Pupkin or Travis Bickle) but also as a swingeing critique of modern US capitalism. In Bloom’s world making fat stacks is all that counts – it doesn’t matter who you hurt, who you exploit, how much you have to degrade yourself or others. Additionally, Rene Russo is superb as the TV news executive Bloom first woos then abuses, Gilroy’s script is sharp as a tack and, thanks to Robert Elswit’s cinematography, LA’s neon-streaked streets have never seemed so sinister or foreboding. 



Also showing: Pride (Virgin Movies, BT TV, Sky Store etc) Gay rights activists and striking miners make common cause against Thatcher and the filthy Tories in this superb ’80s-set comedy. Life Itself (Netflix, from Thursday) Moving documentary detailing the life and work of late US film critic Roger Ebert. Effie Gray (Curzon Home Cinema) Feminist drama about the troubled marriage of Victorian art critic John Ruskin and his titular teenage bride. 


Please note: Films starting after midnight are always considered part of the previous day's schedule, e.g. Mysterious Skin begins at 01:20 - technically Friday morning - but is still part of Thursday's listings. 

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