When playing Chicken is dangerously funny
JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his indispensable pick of the movies on TV in the week ahead (starting Friday, 30 May).
If June is bustin’ out all over, perhaps she should not breathe so deeply. The rest of us are expected to ease out of lockdown gradually. I would start this week, with a couple of, nominally, children’s films. Chicken Run (BBC2, 13.45, Sat, 30 May) is an Aardman classic: the battery farm as POW camp. The cast of plucky ladies voiced by the likes Celia Imre, Jane Horrocks (wonderful!), Imelda Staunton and Julia Sawalha are flustered by the arrival of Mel Gibson’s rooster, the Lone Free Ranger. He provides cause enough for them to plan a bid for freedom. Full of cinematic allusions and with a wickedly witty script, this will amuse you as much as it will the kids. In contrast, Fly Away Home (Sony Movies, 16.30, Tue, 2 June) is live action with a very young Anna Paquin (The Piano, True Blood) sent from New Zealand to live with her remarried father. They bond over an ambitious project to reunite a stray goose with its flock. It is charming and eco friendly and good to look at. It has the most astonishing opening 15 minutes of any kids’ film I know. The child survives the car crash that kills her mother, wakes in intensive care for her father to take her from her home to his, in Canada, away from her friends and familiar places, to live with her stepmother, whom she has never met. If this ain’t a real horror movie, I don’t know what is! The ongoing parade of classic musicals continues with Oklahoma,(BBC2, 14.05, Sun, 31 May), Pal Joey (BBC2, 14.45, Mon, 1 June) and most interestingly, Carmen Jones (BBC 2, 14.50, Wed, 2 June) which reimagines Bizet/Mérimée’s Carmen in an African American army training camp at the time of the Korean War. Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge lead the cast. I was intrigued by the qualification in the Radio Times, "Not in Wales". Is this, in some way, felt to be unrepresentative of the other Joneses and therefore unsuitable? I hope not. It is a fine film. Two screen classics to be revisited or discovered: Some Like It Hot (BBC 2, 15.40, Sat, 30 May) is possibly the finest comedy to come out of Hollywood. Billy Wilder directs Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe (singing I Wanna Be Loved by You). Jazz musicians on the run after witnessing the St Valentine’s Day massacre, dress as dames to dodge the hoods on their tail. It all rounds off with Joey Brown delivering the greatest closing line in screen history. You cannot watch this movie too much. Internal Affairs (BBC 1, 23.00, Sat, 30 May) is a dark cop drama from 1990. Made by British director Mike Figgis, (Leaving Las Vegas) it stars Richard Gere and Andy Garcia. This is where my opinion of Gere as an actor turned through 180 degrees. He is so good at playing bad! This is a contemporary Iago who uses his charm and charisma to devious and devastating ends. It is a film which has been on the shortlist to screen at StokeScreen because it is so good and so unexpected. European highlights this week include Julieta (BBC2, 15.40, Sat, 30 May), which finds Pedro Almodóvar in more pensive mood. A study of middle-aged reassessment of loss and reconnection; a thoughtful and insightful movie.
The Great Beauty (La Grande Beleza) (Film4, 23.25, Mon, 1 June) is Paolo Sorrentino bringing Fellini’s Roma up-to-date. Looking back on life on his 65th birthday, the hedonistic Jep reflects on the nightlife he is leaving behind and marvelling on its beauty, absurdity and relentlessness. This film won the Oscar for best foreign language movie in 2014. Finally, we have a trio of lightweight comedies which will not tax the brain but should raise the odd smile. Gemma Bovery (Film4, 23.15, Wed, 3 June) is a genuinely Anglo-French production, directed by Anne Fontaine and starring Patrice Luchini and Gemma Arterton, set in glorious Normandy landscapes and finding a ludicrously contrived way for local baker and Flaubert fan, (Luchini) to see parallels between the book he loves most and the English couple recently arrived in the village. Enough Said (Film 4, 19.10, Wed, 3 June) is a bittersweet tale of middle-aged romance with the late James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) and Julia Louis Dreyfus (Veep). There is always luggage. There are always skeletons. Catherine Keener and Toni Colette add sparkle to the cast. Nicole Holofcener directs with a beautifully light touch. I Give It a Year (BBC 1, 23.23, Fri, 5 June) is a sub-Richard Curtis English comedy with Rafe Spall, Rose Byrne and Stephen Merchant. Only one wedding and no actual funeral, but a glorious sequence about mishearing song lyrics that makes you wish the rest of the script had been more comedy and less romance. In normal times, StokeScreen Film Club shows great movies at Coventry & North Warwickshire Sports Club, Binley Road, Coventry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.stokescreen.uk The sports club has reopened for tennis. StokeScreen awaits news of further relaxation and hopes to be back in business by September. It might as well rain until then.