Monday 16 February 2015

TV MOVIE PICKS (UK) Monday, February 16 - Sunday, February 22

TERRESTRIAL: Everyone always tells me the only way to see 2001: A Space Odyssey (23:05, BBC2, Friday)  is on a massive screen – apparently it’s impossible to appreciate the sheer majesty and grandeur of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece on anything smaller than an IMAX the size of Saturn. Thing is, I love the film and have never seen it in a cinema. In fact, the first time I laid eyes on it – probably sometime in the mid-70s – would have been on a crappy black and white telly not much bigger than a football. I didn’t understand much of it but the film’s power and invention must have done its job because it wasn’t long before I’d immersed myself in a host of other great SF movies from the ’60s and ’70s (Silent Running, Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run), as well as novels and comics. It wasn't the only thing that fired my love of all things sci-fi but the film certainly had a major role to play. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you see 2001 on, the film has a palpable magic to it.
Also showing: Spider (11:20pm, BBC 2, Saturday)  Ralph Fiennes stars in an atmospheric tale of madness from David Cronenberg. Moonrise Kingdom (11:05pm, Channel 4, Sunday)  Wes Anderson’s sweetly surreal tale of adolescent love. Wadjda (01:30, Channel 4, tonight) Set your PVR for this superb coming-of-age drama from Saudi Arabia. God knows why Channel 4 are showing something so good, so late. The Love Guru (00.55am, Channel 4, Wednesday) Don't set your PVR for this fascinatingly terrible self-help comedy from Mike Myers. God knows why Channel 4 are showing something so bad... at all.

CABLE & SATELLITE: Marion Cotillard is quite rightly in the running for Best Actress at this Sunday’s Oscar ceremony for her role in the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night. She gives a similarly superb performance in Rust and Bone (23:45, Film4, Wednesday)  as Stephanie, an Orca trainer who suffers a terrible accident in the course of her work. Physically and mentally shattered, her path to recovery and acceptance only begins when she meets and falls for Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts), a bare-knuckle fighter with plenty of demons of his own. Jacques Audiard’s film is flawed but the raw power of the central relationship more than carries you through the occasional longeur.
Also showing: Berberian Sound Studio (01:35, Film4, Friday)  Toby Jones enters the world of Italian giallo with pleasingly bizarre results. Rosemary's Baby (00:30am, Sky Oscars, Wednesday) Roman Polanski’s horror masterpiece, starring Mia Farrow. The Look of Love (22:55, Thursday, Film4)  Steve Coogan is jazz-mag big-wig Paul Raymond. The 87th Annual Academy Awards (01:30, Sky Oscars, Sunday)  I think I once managed to make it through 45 minutes of an Oscars ceremony before falling asleep. Might try and last a whole hour this time.

VOD: Director of The Exorcist William Friedkin recently described The Babadook (Virgin Movies, EE, TalkTalk etc) as “the scariest movie I’ve ever seen”. While I’m not sure it’s quite that frightening there’s no doubting this most welcome of Australian imports is a copper-bottomed creepy delight. The titular Babadook (or “The Baby Duck” as my kids insist upon calling it) is a monster that lives in a mysterious children’s book, popping out occasionally to torment the recently bereaved Amelia (Essie Davis) and her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Whether you view it as a reflection on the corrosive power of grief or just a superior monster movie, Jennifer Kent’s debut is astonishingly assured – rich in atmosphere and dread but also able to bring the scares and jumps when it has to. Davis’ perma-frazzled performance has been quite rightly praised (and in another, more just, world might have garnered an Oscar nod) but Wiseman is almost as impressive playing her disturbed young son.
Also showing: Mama (Netflix, from tomorrow) Disappointingly limp horror effort that even Jessica Chastain can’t save. Predestination (Virgin Movies, EE, TalkTalk etc, from Friday) Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook star in a head-spinning, time-twisting sci-fi yarn. The Duke of Burgundy (Virgin Movies, EE, TalkTalk etc, from Friday) Sidse Babett Knudsen, from Borgen, stars in a critically-acclaimed erotic drama simultaneously released in cinemas.

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