Monday 19 January 2015

TV movie picks (UK): Monday, January 19 - Sunday, January 25

TERRESTRIAL: After WWII, Sidney Bernstein (who later founded Granada Television) tried to make a documentary using footage filmed in the concentration camps of Germany and Eastern Europe to provide undeniable proof of the atrocities committed there. He even recruited his friend Alfred Hitchcock to help him. But the project was deemed too politically sensitive and soon abandoned. Seventy years later, the Imperial War Museum has restored and completed Bernstein’s film, and Holocaust: Night Will Fall (Saturday, 21:00, Channel 4) – effectively, a documentary about a documentary – tells its story. Yes, the film is harrowing and upsetting but, if you only watch one thing on TV this week, make it this.

Felicity Jones is the best thing about The Theory of Everything (“an ordinary film about an extraordinary man” as one perceptive reviewer put it) and she’s pretty good in Albatross (Friday, 23:05, BBC 2) too. Jones plays Beth, a bookish 17-year-old whose friendship with force-of-nature Emelia (the excellent Jessica Brown-Findlay) threatens her future and family life.

CABLE & SATELLITE: Set your PVR for Birth (Tonight, 02:30, Sky Drama). Grief-stricken widow Nicole Kidman’s world is turned upside down when she meets a boy claiming to be the reincarnation of her dead husband. Under The Skin director Jonathan Glazer’s clever follow-up to Sexy Beast is criminally underrated and well worth a look. 

Terry Gilliam proves his mettle as a consummate world builder yet again but The Zero Theorem (from Friday, 10:15 and 22:00, Sky Premiere) never hits the heights of his most celebrated work. Christoph Waltz is always watchable though.

VOD: Boyhood (BT TV, Sky Store, Virgin Movies) has already bagged three Golden Globes – one for best film drama – and took home three more major awards at last night’s London Critics’ Circle bash. Shot over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s film is a coming-of-age drama like no other. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll marvel at the superb performances (especially Patricia Arquette’s) and sheer bloody-mindedness of the director to get such an ambitious project onto the screen. Please don’t let the film’s 165-minute running time deter you. Nearly as good is A Most Wanted Man (BT TV, Sky Store, Virgin Movies), Anton Corbijn’s icy, atmospheric spy thriller set in Hamburg. Perplexingly ignored this awards season, the film is most notable for featuring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final starring role. Hearing the great man say the word “barracuda” in a heavy German accent is worth the price of admission on its own.

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