Monday 14 December 2015

Home Comforts: The best in TV, VOD, DVD and Blu-ray (week beginning Monday December 14)

The week's 10 best films to enjoy at home in a host of different formats, including Roxanne (above)...

1. The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson

Director Julien Temple (The Filth And The Fury) tells the extraordinary tale of musician Wilko Johnson, who you may remember as lead guitarist in '70s r'n'b rockers Dr Feelgood. At the beginning of 2013, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and not expected to last the rest of the year. Temple's film shows Wilko coming to terms with the diagnosis while explaining how the experience left him feeling more positive and energised than ever before. No longer the anti-social misery guts of his own self description, Johnson - an incredibly erudite and well-read man - proceeds to live every moment of the life he has left, embarking on a farewell tour and recording a final album with The Who's Roger Daltrey. And it's at that point when proceedings take a turn for the truly unexpected (if you don't know the story, I wouldn't dream of spoiling it for you). Temple's style of documentary making - avant garde film clips, quotes and images mixed in with the usual talking heads - leaves some people cold but it works perfectly here as the director uses Wilko's plight to explore ideas about life, death and resurrection. All in all, you'd be hard pressed to find a more uplifting slice of cinema this year.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
(23:00, Wednesday, BBC4)
Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece - nuff said.

3. Eden
(DVD and VOD)
Director Mia Hansen-Løve chronicles the rise and fall of a young French garage DJ over a 20-year period. In early '90s Paris, Paul Vallée (Félix de Givry) starts a musical duo called Cheers with his friend Stan at around the same time Daft Punk are just kickstarting their own rise to stardom in the city's underground club scene. Cheers do well initially and have a big following but when tastes change and habitual drug user Paul runs out of money and luck, the only way is down. Eden's a little on the long side (131mins) and isn't perhaps quite as essential as some critics have suggested, but its refusal to provide a pat happy ending or to suggest pursuing a dream above all else doesn't sometimes have unpleasant repercussions should be applauded. Hansen-Løve's film would probably make an interesting double bill with the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis.

4. The Wolfpack
The head-spinning true story of the Angulos, six brothers raised in a small apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and only very rarely allowed to venture into the outside world by their insanely overprotective parents. Isolated from society, the boys seek refuge in movies, building elaborate props and costumes as they re-enact favourite scenes from the likes of Reservoir Dogs and The Dark Knight. A bizarre and brilliant documentary.

5. Roxanne
(21:00, Tuesday, Movie Mix)
Classic comedy from 1987 that cleverly updates the story of Cyrano De Bergerac. Steve Martin - still at the peak of his powers at this point - plays CD Bales, a fire chief with an enormous nose. Daryl Hannah is the object of his affections. The scene in which Martin is challenged to think of 20 insults better than 'big nose' makes the film worth seeing on its own: "It must be wonderful to wake up in the morning and smell the coffee... in Brazil."

6. Wild Tales
(Amazon Prime Video, from Tuesday)
Argentine portmanteau featuring six stories about rage and vengeance produced by Pedro Almodóvar  The final sequence centring on the meltdown of a couple’s relationship at their wedding is a tour de force of bleak humour and brutal emotion.

7. Con Air

(21:00, Friday, Channel 5)  
Ridiculously enjoyable action flick in which Nicolas Cage's Cameron Poe - a former Army Ranger just released from jail on parole - is trapped on a plane with some of America's most dangerous criminals. The ruthless cons have taken over the craft and plan to use it to escape justice but Poe - keen to get home to his wife and daughter - has other ideas. John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames and John Malkovich (as Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom) make up a great cast. 

8. Tangerines
(VOD, from Sunday)
Oscar-nominated pacifist drama set during the 1992-93 Abkhazia conflict when the Georgian government, separatist forces, and Russia were embroiled in a bitter war. Ivo and Margus - farmers who have remained behind in their otherwise-deserted rural village to harvest a crop of tangerines - are caught in the crossfire when two bands of warring soldiers clash. The pair take in two of the wounded men - one from each side - and hope they can be nursed back to health and persuaded not to kill each other. Nicely written and acted, uplifting and heartbreaking.

9. The Rebel
(00:10, Wednesday, ITV3)
Tony Hancock is the downtrodden office clerk who quits his job and moves to Paris' left bank to pursue his dream of being a great artist. Despite having limited talent, the comedian becomes a huge success when his paintings get confused with another - far superior - creator. Hancock collaborated with British sitcom gods Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (Steptoe And Son) on the script and, as you'd therefore expect, it stands up pretty well nearly 55 years after its release. I couldn't track down a trailer but below there's footage from the film's UK premiere in 1961 at the Plaza in London's Haymarket.

10. Pinocchio
(17:05, Sunday, Channel 5)
Disney's animated take on the not-quite-a-fairy-tale. Released in 1940, it was the company's second full-length feature (following Snow White And The Seven Dwarves) and based on the 19th Century book by Carlo Collodi. In the Italian writer's story, Pinocchio is executed by hanging at the end of one of the chapters but his editor insisted on a miraculous resurrection!

And one to avoid...
Keith Lemon: The Film
Thursday, ITV2)
Unfunny tosser.

Please note: Films starting after midnight are always considered part of the previous day's schedule, e.g. The Rebel begins at 00:10 - technically Thursday morning - but is still part of Wednesday's listings. All times in 24-hour clock.

**Coming soon: 

My top 30 films of the year... look for it right 

here towards the end of the month**

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