Hollywood classic is one of the week's TV highlights
JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his pick of the films coming on TV (from Sunday, 30 August)
Back in the days of running a regional film theatre, I would be rocked back on my heels by a revelation from a member of the audience that revealed a depth of insight or experience which was not visible at first sight. It is one of many reasons that I love audiences and am always eager to hear what you have to say. On this occasion, we were running a Film Talk about Dickens on film and screened a clip from 1947's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (5 Select, 11.55, Sun, 30 Aug). An elderly, distinguished lady, a loyal supporter, collared me and said, "Nicholas Nickleby, I worked on that"! She was a youthful admin assistant working with Cavalcanti at Gainsborough in 1947. She would have been in the company of a slightly older Patricia Hayes, Cyril Fletcher and a more mature Sybil Thorndike, and 70 years later, she had lost none of her passion for going to the movies. Madam, I salute you. There is a cluster of older classics to help you fill in your back catalogue this week. I Know Where I’m Going (Talking Pictures TV, 14.30, Tue, 1 Sep) is another seminal British film from the 40s. Directed by the great Michael Powell (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death). It was made the year the war ended and reflects an air of revising attitudes in changing times as a young Wendy Hillier finds herself in the Hebrides reviewing her forthcoming marriage. Powell’s films have a visual poetry to them and reflect a very distinctive middle class Englishness. From Here to Eternity (Sony Action Movies, 16.30, Tue, 1 Sep) is passion and peril in the Pacific in 1941. Fred Zinnemann (High Noon) assembles an iconic cast led by Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr and a youthful Frank Sinatra. Burt and Debs thrashing about in the waves (pictured above) is one of Hollywood’s all time favourite images. Laurel and Hardy join the Foreign Legion in The Flying Deuces (Talking Pictures TV, 19.10, Fri, 4 Sep). Maybe not at the height of their powers, but some reminder of the myth that made them. Of the more recent classics is Inception (ITV2, 20.00, Sat, 29 Aug) Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending thriller of corporate theft and dream-sharing technology, which, if you have not seen it, you really should as it is one of the most innovative and provocative movies of the century. It is the 2001: A Space Odyssey for this generation. If you have seen it, then watch again and see if it makes any more sense this time. Nolan’s Tenet is reopening cinemas nationwide this week. I am going just as soon as my biohazard suit comes back from the dry cleaners. Three biopics of interest are on offer this week. Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (BBC1, 20.30, Sat, 29 Aug) recounts how pilot Chesley Sullenburger (do you want fries with that?) played by Tom Hanks, made an emergency landing of his Airbus 360 on the Hudson River, in the middle of New York, when he realised he would not make it back to the airport. This was an heroic achievement that saved hundreds of lives but did not prevent him from having to undergo the ordeal of an investigation to establish whether or not he was right to do what he did. Director Clint Eastwood has never been a great fan of bureaucratic authority.
Tom Hanks also features in A League of their Own (Sony Movies, 21.10, Mon, 31 Aug) as manager of a female baseball team during WW2. Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell lead the cast, ably supported by Madonna, described by the Radio Times as "the team floozy". Whatever happened to floozies? Should we feel the poorer for their absence? Molly’s Game (BBC2, 22.00, Mon, 31 Aug) recounts the tale of Olympic skier Molly Bloom (a James Joycean floozy namesake, played by Jessica Chastain), who sets up a high stakes poker game for the very, very rich, famous, and indeed, notorious. The FBI gets involved, quite dramatically. Kevin Costner and Idris Elba lend able assistance. Get On Up (Film 4, 23.15, Tue, 1 Sep) achieves the impossible and finds, in Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), someone who could plausibly be James Brown in the fairly unvarnished account of the life and times of the Godfather of Soul. The music is quite good, too. In complete contrast, there is a rare (possibly not rare enough) chance to see Take Me High (Talking Pictures TV, 14.30, Wed, 2 Sep), the Cliff Richard vehicle from 1973 about our hero being sent to Birmingham, rather than New York, where he creates the "Brum Burger" to salvage the fortunes of a failing restaurant. They don’t make them like that anymore. I hope. Now, let’s venture into the darker corners of the programme. Border (Channel 4, 00.55, Mon, 31 Aug) is an oddball "romance" from Sweden about a customs officer of rather singular appearance and with a dog’s capacity to sniff out contraband and guilt. She meets an equally exotic looking creature and they are inexorably drawn to one another. It has a deadpan humour to it, reminiscent of Aki Kaurismaki (Le Havre), but no small amount of charm. Drowning by Numbers (BBC 2, 01.20, Thu, 3 Sep) is a Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover) classic. A crime story based around numerology, looking extraordinary and boasting a dynamic soundtrack by Michael Nyman (The Piano). Bernard Hill is an increasingly bewildered detective pursuing three generations of suspects, Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson and Joely Richardson. This is a Marmite movie which requires a certain amount of mental gymnastics, but has stayed with me over several years. Then, there is Berberian Sound System (Film 4, 01.50, Sat, 5 Sep), in which Toby Jones (Detectorists, Marvellous) is working as sound engineer for an Italian horror movie. Gradually, what he is hearing begins to destabilise him. It is a film for which sound is very important and atmosphere increasingly tense. It is directed by Peter Strickland, as is The Duke of Burgundy (Film 4, 01.05, Sat, 5 Sep) a tale of a twisted relationship between a butterfly collector and her lover. I have tried to like this film but never succeeded. Some critics find it highly comical. I have yet to share their enthusiasm.
Toby Jones reappears in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC 1, 22.15, Fri, 4 Sep), a very handsome adaptation of the John Le Carré novel over which Gary Oldman presides as the MI6 agent George Smiley, in the ever uncertain company of Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong and John Hurt.
For those of you who have been following the films of Peter Weir (Witness, Master and Commander), his international breakthrough movie, Gallipoli (Film 4, 16.40, Fri, 4 Sep) recounts the experiences of a couple of Aussie mates from the outback, sent to fight the Turks on the ill-starred campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula. The film is also notable for being the vehicle that catapulted Mel Gibson from Mad Max cult movies to international prominence. To find out about StokeScreen Film Club restarting, go to Facebook: StokeScreen at CNWSC; log on to www.StokeScreen.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org