Stay alert, stay in, and stay tuned to some great films
JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his indispensible round-up of the best films on TV in the week ahead.
Another weekend, another schedule. There is more late night viewing required for the nuggets panned from the cinematic silt - if you cannot record them you will need to Stay Alert while you Stay Home. For those of us for whom the cancellation of Eurovision is one of the most positive contributions to the nation’s cultural life this year, there are plenty of quirks and classics to watch. For those who will miss the annual pantomime of disappointment, there are classic musicals such as South Pacific (BBC2, 15.35 Saturday, 16 May) and Paint Your Wagon (BBC2, 14.50, Sunday, 17 May). There are recent cult classics including Pulp Fiction (Sony Movies, 21.00, Monday, 18 May), No Country for Old Men, (Paramount, 22.00, Tuesday, 19 May) and Heat (Film4, 21.00, Friday, 22 May). Auntie has highlighted some vintage comedies with dedicated and determined female leads: Made in Dagenham (BBC4, 22.30, Saturday, 16 May) is about the fight for equal pay by the women of the Ford factory in Dagenham in the 1970s. The cast is led by the formidable Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and shapes up in the Full Monty mode, taking a light-hearted look at a serious subject. Educating Rita (BBC2, 22.30, Sun, 17 May) comes from a generation earlier as Julie Walters infuses Rita with a huge enthusiasm for life and art as she goes back to education to study English. In Michael Caine, she has the perfect foil as the jaded lecturer with bad hair and a fondness for a drink. Willie Russell creates memorable characters and cracking dialogue. If you liked Kinky Boots, You will like this. For something more recent but with a literary bent, A Walk in the Woods (Film 4, 21.00, Thursday, 21 May) adapts Bill Bryson’s account of going back to the States after 20 years in the UK and engaging with an old friend to walk the Apalachian Trail. Robert Redford plays the author, with the marvellously shambling Nick Nolte as his friend Stephen; two old blokes reminiscing, musing on the changes in their lives and the State of Things. It may as well have been adapted for radio but the landscape is rather spectacular. The Oscar-winning Grand Budapest Hotel (Film 4, 21.00, Tuesday, 19 May) is a horse of a different colour entirely. This is the irrepressibly eccentric world of Wes Anderson, with Ralph Fiennes in fine comic form, presiding over the titular hotel, its curious assortment of guests and strange goings on. It looks amazing and has charm and humour to spare. Spotlight (BBC 2, 23.20, Friday, 22 May) is an All the President’s Men of an investigative story where journalists from the Boston Globe (Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton) uncover the sordid truth about historic child abuse in the Catholic Church in the Boston diocese. Not comfortable viewing, but powerful storytelling. Good Kill (Film 4, 01.25, Monday, 18 May) is a war story for our time, following the experiences of a team of drone pilots in Iraq. Ethan Hawke, who has a habit of making interesting and challenging choices of role, leads the cast. This has been on my list of films to show at StokeScreen. It may sound like just another a war film but it is much, much more - explaining the morality of decision-making in conflicts today. Animation is possibly not what you would expect to be exploring political struggles but Halas and Batchelor adapted Animal Farm (Film 4, 12.25, Saturday, 16 May) in 1954 and with it brought a far more adult perspective to the medium. The American producers tinkered with the ending which makes it rather more pro-Western but it was a major work by a couple of Britain’s finest and most inventive animators. I would not, ordinarily reference screenings on the Antichrist channel (Netflix) but Adult Life Skills is small, resonant and British, one of the recent strand of "girls behaving badly" films with Dr Who, Jodie Whittaker, as a reluctant student. So, now we get down to the “Forin Muck”, which is quite promising this week. In The Commune (BBC 2, 00.00, Sunday, 17 May), Swedish director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, Far from the Madding Crowd) goes back to the 1970s to watch Erik and his family inherit a large house and develop it as a commune. There is much chatter about politics and society, increasingly tangled relationships, and a gradual sense that things in his life are going to have to change. White God (Film 4, 00.50, Sunday, 17 May) is a visually inventive tale of a girl and her dog on the streets of Budpest. Love and loyalty drive her to places a 13-year-old should not go. I could not get this film out of my mind. L’Amant Double, (Channel 4, 01.55, Monday, 18 May) is a recent film by Francois Ozon who is, in the immortal words of Terry Jones, "a very naughty boy!" The premise is simple; a model falls in love with her therapist, moves in with him and then starts to discover his secrets. Only Almodovar can rival Ozon in the outrageous and amazing. StokeScreen is due to screen Ozon’s Potiche when the world begins again, and In the House, which is wickedly funny, is still streaming on Film 4, I believe. I have not seen A Taxi Driver (Film 4, 01.00, Tuesday, 19 May) but it is likely to be a deranged piece of urban paranoia from Korea. The taxi driver in question has accepted a job from a German reporter who is covering civil unrest in the country in 1990. Korean cinema is renowned for a low key (often quite British) sense of humour and the absurd and stunning cinematography. Finally, The Warrior (Channel 4, 23.15, Monday, 18 May) features the late Irfan Khan as the warrior of the title being hunted through the foothills of the Himalayas. Shot by British director, Asif Kapadia, it is a suspenseful thriller that looks utterly stunning. Kapadia has subsequently gone on to make documentaries about troubled celebrities such as Amy Winehouse, Diego Maradona and Ayrton Senna. Speaking of which, Senna (ITV 4, 23.10, Tuesday, 19 May) is not a petrolhead movie but a moving portrait of a complex and compassionate man intent on using his fame to do good.
I hope you find something here to entertain you. It is really good to receive your feedback so please continue to let us know what you like and what you don’t.
In normal times, StokeScreen Film Club shows great movies at Coventry & North Warwickshire Sports Club, Binley Road, Coventry. For information email Stokescreenfilmclub@aol.com or go to Facebook: Stokescreen at CNWSC or www.stokescreen.uk