Monday 15 June 2015

TV Movie Picks (UK): Monday, June 15 - Sunday, June 21

CABLE & SATELLITE: After the Evil Dead debacle, I tend to steer clear of remakes – especially remakes of films I loved growing up. Poltergeist (21:00, Wednesday, 5*) –  a winning collaboration between Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg – is firmly in that category too and wild horses wouldn’t have got me to the cinema to see the recent Gil Kenan-directed regurgitation... even if it did star the great Sam Rockwell. I know why remakes exist (money) and accept they can occasionally be pretty wonderful (The Fly, John Carpenter’s The Thing) but, for the most part, I just don’t want a bar of them. Besides, remakes work best when the original film lacked quality and that certainly isn’t something you could ever say about 1982’s Poltergeist. As much a Spielbergian adventure film as it is a horror picture, Poltergeist is nevertheless incredibly spooky (“They’re he-e-e-ere”) and one of the finest haunted house movies of the last 30+ years. The story is simple – supernatural forces invade the home of a typical American family and make off with their youngest daughter Carol Anne (tragic child actress Heather O’Rourke). She remains inside the house but on a different plane of existence so the family call in a spiritual medium (the fantastic Zelda Rubenstein as Tangina Barrons) to retrieve her. It builds slowly and deliberately but when the spectral madness really kicks in (including some terrific special effects) the film moves through the gears to deliver a breathless, thrill-a-minute ghost-train ride.

Five more...
Jaws (18:50, Tuesday, Sky Sci-Fi/Horror) The great white shark Spielberg nicknamed "Bruce" celebrates its 40th anniversary. Terrific, still.
Margot at the Wedding (01:55, Tuesday, Film4) Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in Noah Baumbach’s bruising dysfunctional family drama.
White Heat (18:50, Thursday, TCM) Jimmy Cagney shines in his finest role; as psychopathic criminal Cody Jarrett. “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”
The Sea Inside (22:00, Thursday, Sky Arts) Javier Bardem is remarkable as a bedridden quadriplegic seeking to end his own life in this Spanish drama.
Boyhood (15:15 and 21:35, from Friday, Sky Movies Premiere) Richard Linklater's superb family drama starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette finally arrives on Sky.

STREAMING/VIEW ON DEMAND (VOD): Not a movie but something a little bit different: Danny Leigh’s British Film Mavericks, which is available to watch for the next 20 days on the BBC’s iPlayer. Leigh is one of the UK’s most engaging film critics and certainly the only reason to ever tune in to BBC1’s ailing Film 2015 TV show. His knowledge is vast and his enthusiasm infectious and so it proves again here as he profiles six very different UK filmmakers; namely John Akomfrah (director of the documentary Handsworth Songs), Donald Cammell (co-director of Performance, with Nic Roeg), Alan Clarke (ScumMade in Britain), Jonathan Glazer (Sexy BeastUnder the Skin), Samantha Morton (Hollywood actor turned director), and Peter Watkins (The War Game). The profiles all come in at under 10 minutes but act as perfect primers, Leigh offering more than a mere career overview as he takes time to explain what makes each subject’s work special or different. Watch all six and I guarantee you’ll be clamouring to see Glazer’s Birth, Morton’s The Unloved, and Watkins’ Culloden (trailer below) immediately after.

Five more...
Selma (Various Streaming Services) David Oyelowo is astounding as Martin Luther King in Ava DuVernay’s powerful civil rights drama.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Netflix UK) Hard-boiled comic-book sequel with Josh Brolin, Eva Green and Mickey Rourke.
Wild Tales (VSS) Excellent Argentine portmanteau featuring six delightfully disturbing stories. Reviewed here.
Palo Alto (Netflix UK, from Tuesday) Powerful teen drama starring James Franco as a sleazy soccer coach. 
The Purge (Netflix UK, from Sunday) Effective horror/thriller set during the titular Purge – an annual 12-hour period when all law enforcement in the United States is suspended. 

TERRESTRIAL: Summer's here and the five main channel's schedules are looking a bit threadbare when it comes to quality, heavyweight movies. In keeping with the light-hearted sunny vibe, then, let's go for a film that's undemanding but still fun. Something like Anchorman supremo Adam McKay's The Other Guys (22:00, Sunday, Channel 5), in which Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play amusingly mismatched cops. Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) are desk-bound officers, a couple of losers who are insanely jealous of their flashy, frontline colleagues, exemplified by Samuel L Jackson and Dwayne Johnson. However, when Jackson and Johnson are suddenly put out of commission, the second stringers are pressed into action on a major case. The mutually-antagonistic cops routine has been done better elsewhere (most recently by Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat) but The Other Guys is elevated enormously by two terrific performances from Ferrell and Wahlberg, their characters' contempt for each other providing the lion's share of the laughs. As you'll see from the trailer, there are also a couple of nice jabs directed Hollywood's way and at action movies in particular. It doesn't all work; there's an ongoing gag involving police captain Michael Keaton inadvertently quoting lyrics from TLC songs that should have been excised long before the final draft, but that's a small beer in a movie full of funny moments. 

Five more…
Creation (23:25, Tuesday, BBC1) Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly star in an engaging and thought-provoking biopic of Charles Darwin.
Rush (21:00, Saturday, Channel 4) Hi-octane recreation of the intense Formula One rivalry between Brit James Hunt (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) and Austria’s Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).
Hamlet 2 (22:35, Saturday, BBC2) The great Steve Coogan in one of those underwhelming film comedies he used to do (see also The Parole Officer).
Basic Instinct (23:25, Saturday, 
Channel 4) Glossy, erotic thriller, in which Sharon Stone flashes her lady garden. It all seems rather quaint these days.
Jurassic Park III (15:05, Sunday, ITV) Sam Neill and Laura Dern return for more dinosaur-related hi-jinks (the pterosaurs are the highlight this time). 

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