Monday 16 March 2015

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

TERRESTRIAL: Bruno (Sunday, 01:15, Channel 4) It might not be quite as pant-wettingly hilarious as Borat but Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up comes awfully close. This time the fearless British comedian is the titular Bruno, an outrageously camp and provocatively gay Austrian TV presenter/fashionista, who takes his "Funkyzeit mit Bruno" show to the US after he is run out of Europe in disgrace. Like Borat, the film is little more than Baron Cohen doing his best to get royally on the nerves of those around him, then filming their angry/bemused reactions. It works so well, though, because nearly all his targets are ridiculous and/or unpleasant - from the pretentious fashion bores in Milan to the homophobic good ol' boys in the States. In many ways, Bruno is a braver film than Borat. You never really feared for the Kazakhstan character's safety as you do for Bruno. There are moments throughout the movie where you do wonder if Baron Cohen is going to get his head kicked in (or worse), especially in an insane cage-fighting segment when Bruno and his assistant Lutz start making out much to the horror of the crowd who immediately start hurling abuse and objects. However, the highlight for me is Bruno's "interview" with right-wing US politician Ron Paul. It is simply glorious.

Also showing: Burn After Reading (Saturday, 22:45, ITV) Slight but fun Coen brothers comedy with Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and George Clooney. Control (Wednesday, 00:55, Channel 4) Anton Corbijn's biopic of late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. Sam Riley is superb as the doomed frontman. Michael Collins (Saturday, 00:25,  BBC2) Another fine biopic, this time of the Irish revolutionary leader. Neil Jordan directs, Liam Neeson stars.

CABLE & SATELLITE: Edge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, Repeat (From Friday, 16:15 & 20:00, Sky Premiere) This high-octane slab of sci-fi was a flop at the box office so, in a desperate bid to rebrand it for the home market, the film has had the words "Live, Die, Repeat" super-glued onto the end of its original title. Why they didn't just stick with All You Need Is Kill - the name of the manga it's based on - is beyond me. Tom Cruise plays Cage, the inexperienced military officer destined to relive his death over and over until a war against a particularly gruesome bunch of extraterrestrial nasties is won. Yes, as some unkind critics pointed out, it's "Groundhog Day with aliens" but the film is so much more than that - the kind of clever, funny, thrill-a-minute stuff that Cruise and director Doug Liman excel at. Emily Blunt is also on top form as fearsome, alien-killing warrior woman Sergeant Rita Vrataski and, while proceedings lose a bit of coherence towards the end, Edge is a superior blockbuster more than deserving of a second chance.

Also showing: Life Is Sweet (Tonight, 01:45, 
 Film4) Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent are on top form in this Mike Leigh classic. Nebraska (Tuesday, 20:00, Sky Select) Bleakly funny road movie starring Bruce Dern as a man convinced he's won $1million in a state lottery. June Squibb shines as his acerbic, long-suffering wife. Romper Stomper (Thursday, 23:25, TCM) Russell Crowe's breakthrough role as a neo-Nazi thug remains as powerful as ever.

VOD: Horns (Sky, Virgin, BT) is a perfect illustration of what happens when adapting "difficult" source material goes horribly wrong. Joe Hill's original novel managed to juggle a whole host of ideas, themes and genres - it's a horror story, a fantasy, a murder mystery, a dark comedy, a satirical poke at religion, a rumination on the nature of good and evil, and a star-crossed romance. Yet it never once feels uneven, bloated or messy. Unfilmable, then? Maybe, at least if director Alexandre Aja's cack-handed attempt is anything to go by. Daniel Radcliffe plays Ig Perrish, the No.1 suspect in the murder of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). Whilst trying to prove his innocence, Ig sprouts horns and people suddenly feel compelled to tell him their darkest, innermost thoughts (mostly concerning sex and violence). Aja deals with the touching romance elements rather well (you believe in the intensity of Ig and Merrin's relationship) but he's on much thinner ice elsewhere. The murder mystery - handled beautifully in the book - is pretty much thrown away here while the horns and horror stuff devolves into a clumsy, ugly CGI-fest towards the end. The other major problem is Daniel Radcliffe. Look, I'm sure he's a lovely bloke and everything but he really isn't a particularly good actor. He certainly doesn't have the charisma or craft to play the lead in a film like this. Radcliffe's American accent is passable but he just never convinces as a man teetering on the edge of madness - he's slightly miffed when he should be raging, a bit upset when he should be a whirlwind of confusion and panic. So why on earth am I recommending this film? Because cinematic car crashes as spectacular as this one are always worth a look.

Also showing: The Skeleton Twins (Sky, Virgin, BT) Dark comedy/drama starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. 22 Jump Street (Netflix UK, from Tuesday) Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return for a decent cop comedy sequel. White Bird in a Blizzard (Sky, Virgin, BT) Mysterious Skin director Gregg Araki's latest hits VOD only a couple of weeks after its cinema release. Shailene Woodley and Eva Green star.


  1. Edge of Tomorrow was great fun and it was a terrible shame that it bombed; I saw it on opening night and there were about eight people there.

  2. I was amazed it did so badly - maybe people thought Tom Cruise + sci-fi meant another film as bad as Oblivion and stayed away.