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Monday, 29 June 2015

If you only watch one TV movie this week, make it 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

I’ve decided to slim down this regular weekly section of the blog so I have more time to concentrate on reviewing new films and a couple of other ideas I’ve had for regular-ish features which I'll be introducing soon...

IF YOU ONLY WATCH ONE TV MOVIE THIS WEEK...
(Monday June 29-Sunday July 5)



Heartbreaking and bleak, I can certainly see why 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (22:00, Thursday, Sky Arts) is a hard sell even to those who usually enjoy foreign language cinema. Set in communist Romania in the 1980s, a couple of years before the fall of dictator Nikolai Ceaușescu, this Palme d'Or winner tells the story of students and best friends, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) and Găbița (Laura Vasiliu). The latter is pregnant and elects to have an illegal termination, Otilia helps her make the arrangements and find the money to pay for it. However, it transpires Găbița has misled abortionist Mr Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) about how far along she is (something which affects the price of the procedure) and matters go sickeningly awry from there. 

Cristian Mungiu's film certainly isn't a barrel of laughs but the strength of the performances, a perfectly realised sense of time and place, a scathingly satirical digression to a dinner party about two-thirds of the way through, and a powerful ending make this something very special indeed. Despite everything that befalls the two women, the strength of their friendship and Otilia's sacrifice and extraordinary loyalty shine through the fog of misery. One of the finest movies of the last 10 years, I have no hesitation at all in calling it a modern masterpiece.

Rating: WWWW




Cable & Satellite highlights...
Do the Right Thing (Midnight, Tonight, Sky Select) Spike Lee’s tale of a Brooklyn race riot remains a very powerful piece of work 26 years after its release. Scarily prescient, too. 
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (21:00, Friday, Movie Mix) Mike Myers was at the height of his powers for this silly and still funny spy spoof.
The Riot Club (11:45 and 22:15, Friday, Sky Movies Premiere) Laura Wade adapts her own stage play about an all-male dining club (clearly based on the infamous Bullingdon) at Oxford University.  
Fury (15:45 and 20:00, Friday, Sky Movies Premiere) Brad Pitt never quite convinces as a hard-bitten tank commander mopping up Nazis at the end of WWII. 
Far From the Madding Crowd (22:00, Sunday, BBC4) The original and best adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel, starring Julie Christie, Peter Finch and Alan Bates.

Streaming/View on Demand highlights…
The Guest (Netflix UK) Downtown Abbey’s Dan Stevens excels as a soldier with a dark secret in this entertaining “stranger danger” thriller.
Force Majeure (VSS) Bleak Norwegian comedy-drama exploring masculinity, family and cowardice.
It Follows (VSS) Critically-acclaimed horror every bit as smart as it is scary.
Hyena (VSS) Brutal British corrupt cop drama.
Arena: It's About Time (BBC iPlayer for next 29 days) Profile of British film director Nicolas Roeg, examining his personal vision of cinema. One of his most celebrated films - Walkabout - is available until Saturday.

Terrestrial highlights…
Flatliners (23:55, Friday, BBC1) Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and Julia Roberts are the medical students investigating near-death experiences in a decent supernatural thriller.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (23:10, Saturday, Channel 4) Forget Genisys, this is the quintessential Terminator movie. Big Arnie has never been better. 
John Carter (18:00, Sunday, BBC2) Unfairly-maligned Mars-set sci-fi based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous novels.
The Grey (22:00, Sunday, Channel 4) Oil worker Liam Neeson on the run from a pack of wolves (I'm guessing they'd just seen Taken 3). 
The Talented Mr Ripley (01:10, Sunday, Channel 4) Matt Damon excels as the titular sociopath. 

Please note: Films starting after midnight are always considered part of the previous day's schedule, e.g. The Talented Mr Ripley begins at 01:10 - technically Monday morning - but is still part of Sunday's listings. All times in 24-hour clock.

Ratings

WWWW = Wonderful
WWW = Worthwhile
WW = Watchable
W = Woeful

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