It’s the school holidays so, just as I had to put up with a substitute Zumba teacher at my gym this week, you get a selection of films from me, the Failed Critic who only really likes TV. Don’t worry, one of the proper writers will be back next week.
Citizen Kane was on earlier, but you missed it. That’s what you get for lazing around in a chocolate coma, moaning that “it’s only really 8am”. Pull yourself together. Instead, visit Whoopi Goldberg as she returns as a fake nun, this time to save her old school from closure by winning the state choir championship. Inspiring other ‘school from the wrong side of the tracks’ classics like, well, Dangerous Minds, Back in the Habit features before they were famous performances from Lauryn Hill and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Add to that some back-flipping that puts JLS to shame, hand clapping throughout, and Whoopi Goldberg performing at least three raps, and you have yourself the perfect Easter film.
Tuesday 2nd April – Casino (ITV4, 10pm)
Apparently, when picking films for this list, it’s kind of obligatory to include at least one film you haven’t seen. Or one film you watched once, late a night, napped through most of, and can only really remember the final scene. I know, right? I have no business to be here. In order to redeem my shoddy film knowledge slightly, this is the film I plan to watch this week. Never mind Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci, et al. The fact that it placed top five in the list of films that most frequently use the word “fuck” is motivation enough for me,
Wednesday 3rd April – Clueless (Film4, 4.55pm)
A modern (18 year old) day retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless is one of the classic high school movies up there with Grease and The Breakfast Club, with the added bonus that Alicia Silverstone was still just about in her teens when she filmed the role of 15 year old protagonist Cher Horowitz. It’s also further proof that co star Paul Rudd is entirely ageless. More than just a story of report cards and Driver’s Ed, Clueless perfectly encapsulates the nineties, from the revolving wardrobe full of knee high socks and platforms, to a soundtrack featuring Radiohead, Beastie Boys and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It’s undoubtedly what all the cool mid thirties kids will be watching today.
Thursday 4th April – Big Business (Film4, 5pm)
Since it’s becoming clear I won’t ever be asked to chose the Best films on TV for Failed Critics again, I’m going to eschew my initial selection of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (BBC1, 11.30pm) and go all out with the best 1988 separated at birth twins based farce which doesn’t star Arnold Schwarzenegger. From the director who played some part in bringing you the Hot Shots! and Naked Gun franchises, starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin in roles originally written for Barbara Streisand and Goldie Hawn, and with a critical reception the usually positive Wikipedia describes as “generally lukewarm”, Big Business is the best film on TV today, as recommended by my nine year old self.
Friday 5th April – Heat (Film4, 9pm)
Al Pacino & Robert De Niro. Need I say more? The theatrical release poster thought the inclusion of Val Kilmer might swing it for you, but I think his face is unnecessary pony-tailed fluff in what was always going to be known as the De Niro/Pacino film. Travis Bickle versus Frank Serpico. Jimmy Conway versus Michael Corleone. Jack from Meet the Parents versus oh god, Al Pacino was in Gigli?! Written, directed and ten years in the making by Michael Mann, Heat is so much more than just an action movie. Wonderful dialogue, an almost three hour running time, and that bank robbery. Heat is one of the films I most enjoy pretending I am in, while doing banal things like walking down the street, and entering banks without robbing them. Al Pacino & Robert De Niro.
Saturday 6th April – Uncle Buck (ITV2, 6pm)
After basically creating the Eighties, John Hughes rounded off arguably his most iconic decade with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Uncle Buck. And who wouldn’t want John Candy as their over sized pancake making, bowling king, unemployed gambler uncle? When three kids are left in the care of their absentee relative, slapstick ensues. Everyone has an oddball family member, sadly mine were never as handy with a golf ball, or the school principal insults. Starring Macaulay Culkin, even cuter and funnier than he was in Home Alone the following year, this is proper Saturday night TV before it was infiltrated by the general public.
Sunday 7th April – Dead Poets Society (BBC2, 11pm)
Even as a Robin Williams obsessive, I can accept that some of his back catalogue is pretty rubbish. Luckily, on this one, I have the backing of the Academy, who awarded the third school based film in my list the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1989. Set in 1950’s Vermont, Williams is Keating, the unorthodox teacher who inspires his students to rip pages from their textbooks and exercise the freedom of thought not generally encouraged at Prep school. It’s basically a lot like Sister Act 2, but with slightly less rapping. Never have poetry, Latin and standing on desks held more cinematic appeal. Oh Captain! My Captain!