The TV movies worth staying in lockdown for
JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club with his incisive and unmissable take on the best films on TV in the week ahead (from Saturday, 13 June).
Being able to visit non-essential shops reminds me of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I am sure there is a logic to it. How many of us have been holding our breath and waiting for the return of the non-essential? Thank goodness we can now choose not to visit the shops we would not have visited previously! On to this week’s menu of films on TV, beginning with a film I have not seen but programmed, so I hope it is good! Goodbye Christopher Robin (C4, 19.05, Sat, 13 June) traces the relationship between Alan Milne and his son Christopher Robin in the years following the First World War. It revolves around the creation of the world of Winnie the Pooh and the recovery and healing following the horrors of war. Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie lead the cast and it is written by Frank Cotterill Boyce (Hilary and Jackie, Sometimes, Always, Never), who is as safe a pair of hands as you would want. On the same day, there are a couple of haunting and unsettling films: 99 Homes (BBC1, 23.05, Sat, 13 June) is set in the wake of the financial crash of 2008 when a building worker runs into financial difficulty and faces eviction. His escape comes through working for the bailiff in shady business deals and inflicting the misery he has escaped on other workers and their families. Andrew Garfield (Spiderman) is impressive as the desperate and naive homeowner and the ever-wonderful Michael Shannon is suitably chilling as his unscrupulous boss. I suspect that this is rather timely programming. The other recommendation for uncomfortable viewing on a Saturday night is Room (C4, 23.25, Sat, 13 June) for which Brie Larson won the Best Actress Oscar in 2016. The film tells of a woman and her son held captive in a single room for seven years before making their break for freedom. It has quite an unusual structure, focusing as much on how they accommodate to their return to the world as it does on the ordeal of captivity and abuse. On Sunday night, Judi Dench and Steve Coogan (pictured above) star in Philomena (BBC1, 22.30, Sun, 14 June), in which journalist Martin Sixsmith helps Philomena Lee as she tries to find the son she lost when she was sent to a home for unwed mothers in the 1960s. Both leads are complex and resonant, and director Stephen Frears, as StokeScreen filmgoers discovered recently with Dirty Pretty Things, is at his best when he gets angry. This story, clearly, really got his goat! There are two impressive pieces of world cinema midweek. Two Days, One Night (BBC2, 00.35, Mon, 15 June) is another gritty piece of social observation. Marion Cotillard (Piaf) discovers that she is to be made redundant so that her colleagues get their 1,000 Euro bonus. She has the weekend to convince them to forego the cash to save her job and allow her to support her family. A simple story that Cotillard raises to another level with her powerful performance. The Handmaiden (C4, 01.50, Wed, 17 June) is an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith translated to Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s. Directed by Chan-wook Park (Old Boy) it tells the story of its central trio from all three perspectives. It is uninhibited in its sexuality and, as with most Korean cinema, utterly ravishing to look at. Probably not one for the more sensitive among us.
I read recently of one highly acclaimed critic referring to The Social Network (Sony Movies, 21.00, Wed, 17 June) as the most significant film of the century. That is not what I recall it to be, good though it is. But I will give it another look, if only to understand what on earth he is rabbiting on about. In short, it is about Mark Zukerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) setting up Facebook. With perfect timing, Selma (BBC2, 23.20, Fri, 19 June) returns to our screens. This is the account of the confrontation which took place in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 as black Americans marched to secure their voting rights. David Oyelowo gives a very convincing turn as Martin Luther King, whose oratory serves to defuse the tension of confrontation between marchers and the police. Tucked away on the Horror Channel (no idea why!) is The Disappearance of Alice Creed (Horror, 22.50, Wed, 17 June), which is due to screen at StokeScreen, once we can resume our activities. It is a tight little thriller with Eddie Marsan, Gemma Arterton and Martin Compston. When we do get to screen it, we have been promised a visit from producer, Marc Samuelson. If I were you, I would wait for it to come to you. But if you do not have the privilege of living within the StokeScreen catchment, see this, It is really good! Musicals of the week: Sunshine on Leith (Film 4, 11.00, Sun, 15 June) animating the songs of The Proclaimers across the streets of Edinburgh, and Dancer in the Dark (Film 4, 01.10, Mon, 16 June) which, in stark contrast, finds Bjork as an East European immigrant in the USA, discovering that it is not quite the Hollywood experience she was expecting. Director Lars von Trier does not hold back on adversity and despair. He’s such a wag! Not your average musica,l but then, Bjork also provides the music (Selma Songs), not your average singer. Also showing this week but unseen for some long time, a handful of British kitchen sink dramas: Poor Cow (Talking Pictures, 22.05, Wed, 17 June), A Taste of Honey (Sony Classic Movies, 21.00, Tue, 16 June) and A Kind of Loving (Talking Pictures, 23.00, Mon, 15 June). Also on the menu: Mask (Sony Movies, 12.40, Sun, 14 June) in which Cher and Sam Elliott tend to disfigured son Eric Stoltz; Bullitt (ITV4, 22.00, Thu, 18 June) which has Steve McQueen, cool as a cucumber, driving around San Francisco, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Sony Movie Classics, 21.00, Sun, 14 June) in which Dame Maggie as the Mussolini admirer, utters the memorable phrase, “May gals are the creme de la creme”! If you are desperate for comedy, Bill Murray will get you as close as you are likely to get this week with Vincent (Film 4, 23.45, Thu, 18 June), in which he is the unexpected childminder for a neighbour’s teenager. Jaded and prickly, they reach an understanding. It also gives Melissa McCarthy a chance of a straight role which does not rely on her body shape. I still don’t think you will find yourself slapping your thigh. Better luck next time. Outside of lockdown, StokeScreen Film Club shows great movies at the Coventry & North Warwickshire Spots Club, Binley Road, Coventry. Email Stokescreenfilmclub@aol.com you can find them on Facebook: StokeScreen at CNWSC, or log on at: www.StokeScreen.uk