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Wit, irony, true grit - all coming to a box near you


JOHN GORE, founder of StokeScreen Film Club, with his pick of the films coming on TV (from Sept 27).


As we have been such disobedient children, it would appear that we are to be kept in until Easter. What

springs to mind is Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the otherwise forgettable Robin Hood:

Prince of Thieves, snarling ‘....and cancel Christmas!’

What can I offer you by way of consolation? True Grit (Film 4, 23.20, Thu, 1 Oct) was a late John Wayne cowboy pic from the seventies, good in its own right. This is the remake by the Coen Brothers which heralded the arrival of Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie, the resourceful young teen who ably supports Jeff Bridges as the ageing marshal, Rooster Cogburn, hunting down her father’s killer. She did not get the Oscar but left a memorable mark. Even if you are not a fan of the genre, this is a western that transcends its conventions and Hailee’s is an unforgettable performance.

Also conveying plenty of wit and irony, Alan Bennett’s The Madness of King George III, adapted for the

screen with Coventry’s own Nigel Hawthorne (pictured above) and Helen Mirren as ‘Mr and Mrs King’, as they reigned at the time of the American Revolution. There is an apocryphal story that the American producer was concerned that American audiences would resist the title, as they had not seen King George I and II. It was internationally retitled The Madness of King George (Film 4, 18.50, Wed, 30 Sep).

Edward Scissorhands (E4, 18.55, Sun, 27 Sep) I do remember with great fondness. This is Tim Burton at his finest, fusing his Gothic imagination, twisted humour and deep compassion with one of Johnny Depp’s career defining performances.

Snowpiercer (Film 4, 21.00, Sun, 27 Sep) is by the Oscar-winning director of Parasite, Bong Joon Ho. This is a sci-fi satire of a post-environmental apocalyptic world where a train circumnavigates a devastated, frozen world, and class is defined by where you find yourself on the train. It has a starry, mostly Anglo-American cast and fairly rattles along (pun intended). A spinoff TV series went out on Netflix earlier this year, directed by Warwick graduate James Hawes. I wonder if he remembers me?

The Thin Red Line (Parmount, 21.00, Wed, 30 Sep) marked the return to directing of Terence Malick after a 20-year hiatus. This is an epic of nearly three hours' duration which charts the experiences of a group of GIs in the battle for Guadalcanal in the Second World War. Malick makes movies that are visually ravishing with a strong mystical or philosophical tone. Don’t come to this looking for an orthodox shoot’em up.

Anthropoid (Film 4, 01.50, Sat, 3 Oct) is the retelling of the Czech plot to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) and Jamie Dornan (50 Shades – mostly keeping his clothes on) play the resistance operatives, trained in Leamington Spa, who undertake this courageous mission.

Dark River (Film 4, 23.15, Mon, 28 Sep) is a bit of Brit grit directed by the most consistently interesting of British women directors, Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant) and starring Ruth Wilson (His Dark Materials, Mrs Wilson). This explores a number of the tougher subjects of farming life: the viability of the farm, isolation, mental health. An everyday story of country folk. Wilson propels it to another level.

Life (Film 4, 01.30, Fri, 2 Oct) is the story of a photoshoot. Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) is commissioned by Life magazine to photograph James Dean (Dane DeHaan) at the beginning of his stardom. Directed by Anton Corbijn (Control), himself a photographer renowned for capturing the essence of stars of stage and screen, it explores the relationship between artist and subject, although few subjects would be as tricky and elusive as Dean.

Things to Come (L’Avenir) (Film 4, 01.55, Wed, 30 Sep) finds Isabelle Huppert (Elle, Amour & 140 others!) as a philosophy teacher coping with loss in middle age. Huppert is always watchable and subtle. This is a journey from darkness into light and she makes you feel it, every step of the way.

StokeScreen favourite, North by Northwest (BBC 4, 20.00, Thu, 1 Oct) gets an outing on the small screen complete with crop duster plane sequence and showdown on Mount Rushmore. This is prime Hitchcock which appears to herald a new policy for screening classic movies on BBC4.

Just like buses, you hang around waiting for an Earl Cameron movie and then two come in quick

succession! Following last week’s Pool of London, Sapphire (Talking Pictures TV, 23.10, Sat, 26 Sep) explores race relations around the murder of a young black woman in late 1950s' Britain. Our esteemed Kenilworthian got to play a doctor, the voice of reason. With extraordinary serendipity, it coincides with the Kenilworth Arts Festival streaming an appreciation of his life and an on-stage interview that I prepared for them and is available until this weekend. Find it at: https://www.kenilworthartsfestival.co.uk/event/the-life-and-films-of-earl-cameron/

Next week, I have asked my good friend and a mine of information and insight, Kevin Cryan, to sit in for

me and give you his view of the week’s small screen cinematic offerings. A change will do us all good.

As ever, it is always good to hear back from you, so please put your thoughts down and send them to us at Stokescreenfilmclub@aol.com Find us on Facebook: StokeScreen at CNWSC or log on to www.StokeScreen.uk

Winner!