Monday 9 February 2015

TV MOVIE PICKS (UK) Monday, February 9 - Sunday, February 15

TERRESTRIAL: When Hammer Films was revived a few years ago, Wake Wood (00:45, BBC1, Saturday) was one of its first releases. Unfortunately, since then, the film seems to have been a bit forgotten, perhaps overshadowed by the runaway success of the same studio’s Woman in Black. That’s a great shame because the earlier picture – directed by David Keating – is a far more chilling affair. Aidan Gillen and Eva Birthistle are parents mourning the loss of their young daughter. While travelling in Ireland they discover the existence of a ritual that could return her to them for three days. The resurrection works but their beloved daughter has come back “wrong”, and it isn’t long before the bodies start to pile up. Wake Wood could have been just another “be careful what you wish for” frightener but its strong focus on character, fine performances and carefully-cultivated atmosphere of dread make for essential viewing.
Also showing: Dawn of the Dead (00:45, BBC1, Wednesday) George A Romero’s zombie masterpiece. Gosford Park (22:40, ITV, Friday) Robert Altman does Downton Abbey. The Disappearance of Alice Creed (00:30, BBC1, Tonight) Feisty Gemma Arterton turns the tables on her kidnappers in an effective Brit thriller. No Country for Old Men (00:15, Channel 4, Sunday) Javier Bardem gives good sociopath in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning drama.

CABLE & SATELLITE: 12 Years a Slave may have won the Oscars but for me Shame (23:00, Film4, Thursday) remains director Steve McQueen’s best film to date. Michael Fassbender is New Yorker Brandon – 30-something, successful and addicted to sex. His seedy life of porn and prostitutes is turned upside down when Carey Mulligan (Sissy, his fragile sibling) moves in with him as she tries to launch a singing career. This is a desolate and actually quite upsetting drama – it’s clear something has gone terribly wrong for Brandon and Sissy early on in their lives and that it continues to exact a terrible price from them both. Fassbender is terrific and McQueen offers no easy answers to the pair’s torment.  
Also showing: The Devil’s Advocate (22:00, 5USA, Tuesday) Al Pacino is Satan (especially after doing those terrible ads for Sky Broadband a while back). Se7en (23:05, Sky Select, Tuesday) I don’t like that Bradley Pitts anyway… too much acting. The Breakfast Club (00:05, ITV3, Thursday) John Hughes’ quintessential ’80s teen drama.

VOD: Magic in the Moonlight (Virgin Movies, Film4OD, EE, TalkTalk etcisn’t one of Woody Allen’s best and something of a disappointment after 2013’s magnificent Blue Jasmine. But it does boast fine performances from Colin Firth, as an insufferable stage magician, and Emma Stone, as the psychic whose “supernatural gift” he is attempting to debunk. The dialogue is uneven – almost sparkling one minute, plain clunky the next – while the idea of a romance between Firth (54) and Stone (26) is, to put it politely, a little icky. However, as you'd expect from late-period Woody, the film does have just enough charm and chutzpah to get away with even its most egregious shortcomings. 
Also showing: Calvary (Netflix) Brendan Gleeson is on top form as a doomed priest in this fine black comedy. Palo Alto (Virgin Movies, Film4OD, EE, TalkTalk etc) Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola) directs a slow-moving but effective teen drama starring James Franco and Emma Roberts. Still Life (Curzon Home Cinema) This sentimental drama sees the excellent Eddie Marsan’s lonely civil servant tracking down relatives of the recently deceased.

Please note: Films starting after midnight are always considered part of the previous day's schedule, e.g. Wake Wood starts at 00:45 - technically Sunday morning - but is still part of Saturday's listings. 

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