Monday 23 February 2015

TV MOVIE PICKS (UK) Monday, February 23 - Sunday, March 1

TERRESTRIAL: The oracle-like scheduler at Channel 4 deserves a tip of the hat for lining up Citizenfour (Wednesday, 23:05, Channel 4) to air only a few days after the Oscars. It won the best Documentary Feature award last night and is sure to attract a decent-sized audience as a result. Producer/director Laura Poitras was contacted by Edward Snowden when the NSA whistleblower was about to go public with his illegal wire-tapping revelations, and Citizenfour (the code name Snowden gave himself in emails to Poitras) documents their clandestine meetings. It’s fascinating, horrifying stuff and would make an interesting double bill with The Lives of Others (also showing this week), the German Oscar winner about the Stasi in East Berlin.

Also showing: Cuban Fury (Saturday, 21:00, Channel 4) The always likeable Nick Frost Salsas up a storm as he seeks to woo Rashida Jones. Shut up, it could happen. Cosmopolis (Sunday, 21:50, BBC2) David Cronenberg directs Robert Pattinson in a gimlet-eyed dissection of Wall Street capitalism. Doubt (Friday, BBC 2, 23:05) Philip Seymour Hoffman is a priest accused of indecently assaulting a young boy.

CABLE & SATELLITE: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight (Sky Select, 4.20pm, Friday) is one of the director’s most immediately engaging films - it was also his first full-length feature. John C Reilly is the down-on-his-luck schmuck trying to scrape together enough money to afford a funeral for his dad, Philip Baker Hall the mysterious gambler who shows him a surefire way to make some cash in Vegas. It’s a noirish character study packed with fine performances (Samuel L Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow are both superb in supporting roles) and a couple of pleasing twists. If you’re a PTA sceptic who finds his later films, including the recent Inherent Vice, a little meandering and saggy, this – a far more focused affair – might just convince you of the man’s greatness.

Also showing: Buried (Sunday, 23:25, ITV4) sees beady-eyed talent vacuum Ryan Reynolds six feet under with no hope of escape. I’m still unsure how this is a bad thing. Kill List (Sunday, 23:15, Film4) Ben Wheatley’s bizarre British horror still provides a punch to the gut. Batman Begins (Saturday, 9pm, Sky 1) is the first and best of director Christopher Nolan’s Gotham-set trilogy. The Lives of Others (Wednesday, 00:35, Sky Oscars) German Oscar winner about Stasi agents operating in East Berlin before the Wall came down.

VOD: Fury (Virgin Movies, Sky Store etc) Brad Pitt – all Athena poster looks and rock-hard abs – is miscast as Wardaddy, a tough but terribly conflicted tank commander in this passable drama set towards the end of WWII. Pitt’s a decent actor and I’m sure boosted the film’s box office tenfold but he’s the last guy you go to if you’re looking to make a war film with any pretence of gritty reality. That said, Fury has its moments, mostly in the set-piece tank battles which are both palpably claustrophobic and viscerally exciting.

Also showing: Mr Turner (Virgin Movies, Sky Store etc) Timothy Spall astounds in Mike Leigh’s biopic of British painter JMW Turner. The Duke of Burgundy (Virgin Movies, Sky Store, Curzon Home Cinema etc) Peter Strickland’s follow-up to Berberian Sound Studio is an S&M love story that is both perplexing and beguiling. Snow in Paradise (Curzon Home Cinema) A repentant criminal turns to Islam after a heist goes wrong in this London-set thriller. This Is 40 (Netflix, from tomorrow) A Judd Apatow comedy sequel (of sorts) in which Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their characters from Knocked Up. I'm sure it's a hoot.

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