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TV movies to bring us a ray or two of sunshine

JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his latest round-up of the best films coming to TV (from July 12).

Thick cloud and drizzle: yes, the cricket season has started. Not going out in this? Well, here’s more of what’s worth watching while you are waiting for the dove to return with an olive branch. There are a few personal favourites on the schedule this week. Chicken Run (ITV, 14.15, Sun, 12 July) was on only a couple of weeks back but I can watch it over and over if only for Jane Horrocks's classic delivery of "My whole life passed before my eyes. It wor soooo boring!" A sequel is in production. Let’s hope it makes it on to the big screen where it belongs. The Ipcress File (BBC2, 15.45, Sat, 12 July) is the film which introduced Michael Caine as Harry Palmer in adaptations of Len Deighton’s spy novels. This film (pictured above) is quintessentially 1960s with Caine as the prototype sensitive chap, shopping, cooking, savouring coffee and marvelling at the things you can get in tins nowadays. The world is changing. Society is becoming more mobile but no less prejudiced. The film also boasts one of John Barry’s greatest scores, to prove that he could do much more than just James Bond themes. Later in the week, Palmer reappears in Funeral in Berlin (Film4, 16.30, Thu, 16 July). Sony’s Monroe movie of the week is her last (as it was also for Clark Gable), The Misfits (Sony Movie Classics, 21.00, Wed, 15 July), a more sober and autumnal feature than this cast might suggest. John Huston directs. And for the keen gardeners amongst you, Day of the Triffids (Talking Pictures TV, 01.50, Thu, 16 July) demonstrates what can happen if you overdo the Gro-More. John Wyndham has never been adequately served on screen but his themes remain uncannily prescient. I have never seen Home of the Brave (Talking Pictures TV, 22.05, Wed, 15 July) but a 1949 study of racial conflict within an American army unit during WW2 sounds as though it might be worth a cautious welcome. Film of the Week and candidate for StokeScreen programming: 20th Century Women (BBC2, 23.20, Fri, 17 July). Annette Bening is in majestic form as the 70s' matriarch who enlists the services of two young women to usher her teenage son into the new feminist world of social and political change. Bening is so nuanced and perceptive in her performances (see also The Kids are Alright, when that next appears) that she finds the perfect tone of the sincere and ironic. She is ably assisted by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Elle Fanning (Trumbo) as well as a rapidly "reconstructing male", Billy Crudup. Also, back in the seventies is Summer of Sam (Sony Movies, 23.00, Mon, 13 July), Spike Lee’s portrait of tribes and neighbourhoods in a New York under the threat of the serial killer, Son of Sam. This does not flinch from the presentation of the black experience but has a more inclusive representation of communities in a city that he clearly loves. Apparently, it has not been shown on free to air TV in 20 years. Welcome back. This week’s insomniac’s corner hosts three rough diamonds. X+Y (BBC1, 00.05, Sun, 12 July) is the portrait of a gifted, autistic boy who struggles to fit into conventional institutions but finds a way to friendship and self-fulfilment with specialist care and attention. It is not a sentimental, uplifting "TV Movie of the Week" but far more plausible and rewarding viewing. Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Journey’s End) does sterling work as the awkward but gifted young man. Nico 1988 (Film4, 02.00, Thu, 16 July) explores the latter days of the enigmatic singer of the Velvet Underground, touring Europe and battling with personal demons. Trine Dyrholm succeeds in making her Christa Paffgen (Nico) a fascinating piece of pop flotsam. Rams (Film4, 01.45, Mon, 13 July) is a quirky, deadpan comedy from Iceland about two warring brothers, both sheep farmers. Although they have not spoken in 40 years, circumstances force them to work together to save their sheep. The characters are almost as rugged and awkward as the landscape they occupy! Juillet quatorze passes unmarked by any hint of French culture but there is a screening of The Colony (Sony Movies, 21.00, Tue, 14 July). This is a dramatisation of nefarious activities in Chile under General Pinochet including torture and severe deprivation. It allows Emma Watson (Harry Potter) a chance to play a grown-up opposite the rather splendid Daniel Bruhel (Goodbye Lenin). Finally, there are a couple of titles that I know I have written about recently but it may be that this is old school (dinners) programming where they will keep serving them up until you have watched them! Two Faces of January (Film4, 17.10, Fri, 17 July) is a Patricia Highsmith adaptation, adapted and directed by Hossein Amini, who made a rather good job of Our Kind of Traitor and manages the cloak and dagger stuff expertly. The other repeat offering is the splendidly hybrid Nile Hilton Incident (Channel 4, 01.55, Wed, 15 July). Set in Cairo with a beleaguered detective struggling against deep rooted corruption, this has a Swedish Egyptian lead, Swedish director and all the distinct fingerprints of Nordic Noir but with sun. Of which we can only dream.

In normal times, StokeScreen Film Club shows great movies at Coventry & North Warwickshire Sports Club, Binley Road, Coventry. For details email; find them on Facebook: StokeScreen at CNWSC or log on to

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