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An unusual thriller to keep you guessing


JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his latest pick of the films coming to TV (from Sunday, July 18).

A Christopher Nolan film, earlier and far more modest than his blockbuster Dunkirk, but enthralling in its way, is Memento 2000 (BBC2 23.15 Wed 21 July) in which Guy Pearce (LA Confidential) is afflicted by amnesia, so the narrative works backwards as he tries to piece together what has happened to him. The film (pictured above) is as much study in memory and perception as it is an unusual thriller which will keep you guessing, providing you don’t lose the plot along the way.

I was fortunate to give one of the first screenings of this film in this country for student press with both Nolan brothers doing the interviews. What was remarkable was that director brother Christopher spoke in assured Oxford English, while writer brother Jonathan spoke pure LA-ese, evidence of them growing up in different places after their parents separated.

It has been British Formula One GP weekend and to support this, the documentary Williams: Formula 1 in the Blood 2017 (BBC4 22.00 tonight, Sun 18 July) recounts the rise of Williams as a championship winning racing team and the career of its founder, Frank Williams.

Music biopic of the week is another outing of Love and Mercy 2014 (Great Movies 21.00 Wed 21 July) in which Paul Dano and John Cusack get to play Brian Wilson from his youthful heyday with the Beach Boys to the sedated and manipulated figure of the 1980s. This is sympathetic portrait of a troubled soul from whom so much wonderful music flowed but who was ruthlessly exploited by the people he had come to rely on.

There is a clutch of classic Brits to enjoy, too, starting with a film with a strong musical connection. Scott of the Antarctic 1948 (BBC2 14.30 Mon 19 July) tells of Robert Scott’s fateful attempt to reach the South Pole, drawing on Scott’s diaries for the script. It has a soundtrack by Ralph Vaughan Williams which he was later to rework as his Symphony no 7, Sinfonia Antarctica. I was introduced to this at school and it opened to doors to classical (and film) music for me, proving that you did not have to be German or Russian to compose for orchestra, nor that it had to involve fairies or swans.

Here is a rundown of classic British comedies to lighten the mood this week:

The Man with the White Suit 1951 (BBC2 14.50 Tue 20 July) with Alec Guinness as a chemist and inventor whose genius puts him at odds with business interests;

Whisky Galore 1949 (BBC2 15.50 Fri 23 July), ‘based on a true story’, tells of a shipwreck in the Hebrides and a cargo of Scotch falling into the hands of thirsty islanders;

Our Man in Havana 1959 (Great Movie Classics 08.10 Mon 19 July), Graham Greene’s novel of a vacuum cleaner salesman supplementing his income with ‘intel’ of new weaponry. It’s Alec Guinness again. Well, he is rather good.

The Admirable Crichton 1957 (Great Movie Classics 21.00 Tue 20 July) resurfaces, with Bill Travers (Born Free) in the title role as the unflappable butler who enables his aristocratic employers to survive shipwreck while reshaping the social order on their island.

 On a topical note Lady Godiva Rides Again 1951 (Talking Pictures TV 01.00 Wed 21 July) is the film that every good Coventrian should experience at least once, like I had to. This is a cautionary tale of a beauty contest winner whisked away to the big city to feature in a Festival of Britain (the City of Culture of its day) parade as Lady Godiva.

There is a rare outing of another classic in the shape of Wim Wenders’ (Paris Texas) The Wings of Desire 1987 (Film4 23.15 Thu 22 July) a haunting, poetic story in and about Berlin in the days before the fall of the Wall. This is just beautiful, moving stuff and one of the great European classics of the 1980s.

The Guilty 2018 (Film4 02.15 Wed 21 July) is a cracking Scandi Noir thriller of cops and kidnappers and a high tension race against time.

There is an almost equally tense British thriller in ’71 2014 (Film4 23.20 Mon 19 July) in which squaddie, Jack O’Connell, gets separated from his patrol in the Belfast of the Troubles and has to make his way back to safety using his wits, charm and some more forceful persuasion. This is taut, scary and well played.

Last but not least, I would mention Nebraska 2013 (Channel4 02.10 Thu 22 July) in which Bruce Dern, ageing, addled but determined, makes his way from Montana to Nebraska to claim a sweepstake marketing prize with his son. His son knows a scam when he sees one but goes along and tries to build bridges along the way. It is a touching, bitter-sweet comedy by Alexander Payne who has also made Sideways, Election, and The Descendents. You may need a hankie by the end.

It is always good to hear back from you, so please put your thoughts down and send them to us at Stokescreenfilmclub@aol.com Fb StokeScreen at CNWSC and www.StokeScreen.uk.