Monday 22 June 2015

TV Movie Picks (UK): Monday, June 22 - Sunday, June 28

CABLE & SATELLITE: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like Holy Motors (23:50, Tuesday, Film4). More than that, I’m not sure I even have the words to properly describe it. French writer/director Leos Carax’s 2012 film is enigmatic to the point of being utterly unknowable; even with a gun to my head I doubt I could tell you what it was actually about. The facts are these: a man named Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) is driven around Paris by Celine (Edith Scob), his chauffeur, in a white limousine to a series of appointments. He adopts a different persona – often requiring extensive make-up, props and costumes – for each engagement he keeps, including that of an old beggar woman, an actor simulating sex while dressed in a motion capture suit, and a violent red-haired man who kidnaps a beautiful young model from a photo shoot. It continues in this vein for some time, occasionally perhaps giving us the odd glimpse of Oscar’s real life as he flits from assignation to assignation, each one stranger than the last. To call Holy Motors surreal or perverse simply doesn’t do it justice, it’s a gloriously entertaining puzzle that isn’t meant to be solved. So don’t try – just enjoy the madcap journey.

Five more...
Avatar (21:00, tonight, Film4) 
James Cameron’s earnest but enjoyable lanky blue alien spectacular starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver. 
Revolution (13:45, Tuesday, Movie Mix) Al Pacino fights for the freedom of the American colonies in a British film that was a critical and box office flop upon its release in 1985. 
Masque of Red Death (21:00, Wednesday, Horror Channel) Edgar Allan Poe! Roger Corman! Vincent Price! Worshipping Satan! What’s not to like?
The Wicker Man (23:30, Saturday, ITV4) Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee are both terrific in a film for which the term “cult classic” could have been invented.
Super (23:15, Saturday, Film4) Writer/director James Gunn’s first run at making a superhero film is every bit as entertaining as his Guardians of the Galaxy. Rainn Wilson is the Crimson Bolt ("Shut up crime!"), Ellen Page his unstable sidekick Boltie.

STREAMING/VIEW ON DEMAND: Blind (Various Streaming Services) is an astonishingly assured debut from Norwegian writer/director Eskil Vogt. Set in Oslo, it tells the story of Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), who has recently lost her sight. She retreats into herself – never leaving the apartment she shares with husband Morten, and slowly but surely surrendering to paranoia and fantasy as her loneliness and isolation start to take their inevitable toll. She convinces herself that Morten remains home when he’s supposed to be at work, so he can silently watch her. Not only that, but she believes he’s having an affair with pretty single mum Elin (Vera Vitali) who lives close by. Ingrid’s descent into this imaginary world becomes more and more elaborate as the story proceeds; she conjures more characters and situations to create a sort of film within a film. At first, you aren’t quite sure what is real and what is being shaken loose from Ingrid’s fevered mind. (There’s a great scene early on when Morten sees old friend Einar (Marius Kolbenstvedt), a porn addict with a crush on Elin. Their meeting takes place in a busy café but, because it’s part of Ingrid’s fantasy, the location morphs between that, a moving bus and sometimes a weird combination of both). Vogt reveals his hand earlier than he might have, though, because it isn’t really the artful blurring of fantasy and reality that is the issue here; he’s more interested in exploring the effect of a sudden and hugely debilitating disability on a vulnerable young woman. How it impacts her marriage, her identity and self-worth. He does so cleverly and, at times, shockingly, avoiding many of the clichés that have come to define portrayals of the disabled in movies. Frankly, it’s a triumph, and one of the finest foreign language films I’ve seen all year.

I couldn't find a decent trailer on YouTube with English subtitles so try this one from Vimeo.

Five more...
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Amazon Prime)
Beautiful animated Japanese fairy tale from Studio Ghibli.
Appropriate Behaviour (VSS) Desiree Akhavan writes, directs and stars in a likeable comedy-drama about a bisexual Iranian woman struggling with family and relationships in New York.
Blackhat (VSS) Michael Mann's much-maligned techie thriller starring Thor's Chris Hemsworth as an expert hacker trying to bring down a cybercrime network.
Fifty Shades of Grey (VSS) No idea what this is. Something to do with working on the paint counter at B&Q, perhaps?
Everly (VSS, from Friday) Gun-toting Salma Hayek takes on the Yakuza without ever leaving her apartment in a stylish but absurdly violent action thriller.

TERRESTRIAL: There was a period, roughly between 1985 and 1994, when it seemed director Tim Burton could do no wrong. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Batman and its extraordinary sequel Batman Returns – by anyone’s standards, it was a hell of a run. My favourite film from Burton’s purple patch, though, is probably 1988’s Beetlejuice (17:10, Sunday, Channel 5). Weird, funny, scary, charming, surreal, eccentric, inventive, profane, visually stunning and gloriously gothic, it tells the story of Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), a recently-deceased ghostly couple who hire a crazed “bio-exorcist” (the titular Beetlejuice) to rid them of the Deetz – an objectionable family that has recently purchased their house. However, the Maitlands get cold feet when they become friends with the Deetz’s daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) and attempt to call off the “hit” – much to Beetlejuice’s fury. The entire film is an unalloyed joy – from Michael Keaton’s hilarious, gross and generally jaw-dropping turn as the bio-exorcist himself, to the horror and dark humour of the afterlife waiting room scene, to a dinner party dance sequence featuring Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song that Catherine O’Hara (as Delia Deetz) completely owns. It’s just a pity we never got a glimpse of Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, an abandoned sequel that would have seen Keaton’s ghost with the most win a surfing contest. 

Five more...
Zaytoun (00:25, Wednesday, Channel 4)
A young Palestinian refugee forms a close bond with a downed Israeli fighter pilot (Stephen Dorff).
Bloody Sunday (23:10, Friday, ITV) Paul Greengrass’ powerful drama based on the killing of 14 civilian protestors by British soldiers in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972. James Nesbitt – as SDLP MP Ivan Cooper – has never been better.
Babylon AD (22:55, Saturday, Channel 4) Post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure starring Vin Diesel as a mercenary escorting a girl with strange powers from Russia to New York.
The Infidel (01:00, Saturday, BBC2) Identity crisis comedy starring Omid Djalili as a successful Muslim businessman who discovers he’s adopted and Jewish.
Blue Valentine (00:50, Sunday, Channel 4) Fine relationship drama featuring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as a couple struggling to keep their disintegrating marriage intact.

Please note: Films starting after midnight are always considered part of the previous day's schedule, e.g. The Infidel begins at 01:00 - technically Sunday morning - but is still part of Saturday's listings. All times in 24-hour clock.

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