Tag Archives: Best Film on TV

Best Film on TV: Christmas Special

With a festive season packed full of brilliant films on TV, Owen picks the cream of the crop for you over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself and Boxing Day. Whilst it’s 4 days shorter than the usual Best Film on TV article, it’s practically bursting with quality movies, starting with….

manchurian-candidate1Christmas Eve –

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) (ITV4, 12.10) – A favourite of ITV’s as it seems to be on at least once a month recently, it doesn’t make it any less worthy of your time. Starring Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and ol’ Blue Eyes himself Frank Sinatra, this psychological thriller about a returning POW who’s been brainwashed by the commie Koreans is as nightmarish as it is absorbing.

It’s a Wonderful Life (Channel 4, 13.10) – Whilst the proposed sequel is still some way off development, it wouldn’t be Christmas if this wasn’t on TV now would it? Last year we actually outlined exactly why you should see this in James and Kate’s 12 Days of Christmas series.

Fantasia (BBC2, 16.15) – Believe it or not, this is actually the terrestrial premiere of Walt Disney’s Fantasia, despite the fact it was released some 73 years ago now. Blending classical music with spell-binding, magical animation, it’s sure to draw in a huge number of viewers young and old to marvel at the splendour of classic Disney.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Film4, 00.45) – Adapted into a feature film by Finnish director Jalmari Helander from his own short film, this is a Christmas film like very few others! As a horror-comedy about a young boy that discovers the real Santa, an evil child stealing monster, is trapped in the mountains of his home town, it quite obviously doesn’t take itself too seriously! You will either love or hate it. If you stay up to watch it, it could even be the first film you see on Christmas day!

Children of Men (ITV4, 01.05) – Not Christmassy at all. In fact, I don’t even like Children of Men. However, director Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity made it into the top 10 of 2013 in the Sight and Sound list and was mostly enjoyed by our podcast team and by Carole, our roving reporter at the London Film Festival, so one of his earlier sci-fi films about a world where women have stopped giving birth may appeal to the cinephiles out there looking for something a little bleaker this Christmas.

theredshoes2Christmas Day –

The Red Shoes (BBC2, 08.50) – The best Powell & Pressburger film that I’ve seen, The Red Shoes is about a ballet.. but don’t let that put you off like it threatened to do to the uncultured swine that I am. It is truly excellent. The actual ballet scene itself is mesmerising. The hissing romance between its two superb lead performers, Moira Shearer and Marius Goring, stuns the film into one of the most enchanting and mesmerising I’ve ever seen. Atmospheric, beautiful, tense. amazing, spectacular, illuminating… I could go on!

Gone With The Wind (Five, 10.15) – The episodic structure to this epic Civil War southern romance story from 1939 starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh means you can quite easily dip in and out of it between your view getting blocked by nan standing in front of the tele and helping with the tidying up without really missing much. If you make it to the end in one sitting, complete with sitting through ad breaks, then frankly my dear, I’m proud of you.

Casablanca (Five, 14.35) – Another film I don’t care too much for but is hailed as a classic is Michael Curtiz’s Oscar winning war time political-romance drama Casablanca. Taking a look at the profile page for the film over on Letterboxd, only one reviewer has given it anything less than 5 stars; even they gave it 4.5 stars! That, my friends, is a rarity. I would wager it will be a while again before I see the likes of that. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow.. ok I’ll drop the cheesy quote-jokes.

Toy Story 3 (BBC1, 15.20) – Whilst it has been argued that Pixar are on the decline as of late, it’s hard to beat watching one of their films on Christmas Day. BBC seem to have developed a tradition of showing their movies on the 25th December, and this year they have decided to air the eleventh highest grossing film of all time. Indeed it was even nominated for an Oscar in 2011! Financial and critical success might suggest Pixar are far from a spent force, but nothing they have released since the third instalment of their Toy Story franchise has come close to matching its achievements.

The Muppets Christmas Carol (Channel 4, 16.35) – As I’m yet to pick a proper Christmas family movie, taking a peak at the schedule, it’s got to be the Muppets Christmas Carol. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you why you should be watching this. It’s plainly obvious.

Big Fish (Film4, 16.50) – Ewan McGregor plays the son of a dying father in this fantasy adventure film. I don’t tend to pick many Tim Burton films for these Best Film on TV articles, however I will make an exception for Big Fish as it’s the time of forgiving. It might just be the last good film he made.

Ghostbusters (5*, 16.55) – If Big Fish.. ain’t your thing.. what else should you watch? Ghostbusters!

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (BBC3, 20.30) – Ah, good ol’ Indy. Reliable, entertaining Indy. Proper Christmas day evening adventure film Indy. If you, like many other incorrect people, consider Temple of Doom to be a bit shit, you could wait for The Last Crusade on Boxing day at 20.00… or even Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is on BBC1 at 18.05 on Friday.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (BBC1, 00.40) – With the release of Anchorman 2 last week, the long awaited sequel, BBC1 are giving you the chance to go back and watch where it all started. Arguably Will Ferrell’s greatest comedy creation pits the out-dated news anchor against an up-and-coming female counterpart. If you’ve had a bit to drink, just realised the time, and can stomach staying up just another hour and a half, then this is the perfect tonic.

The Host (2006) (Film4, 01.30) – As per my review on the latest podcast, this South Korean creature-feature about a mutant creature from the Han River in Seoul is tons of fun. Grotesque and hilarious, with a great cast of people recognisable from lots of other Korean films, such as Kang-ho Song (the vampiric priest in Thirst, and also in Sympathy for Mr Vengeance), and Doona Bae (who was also in Sympathy for Mr Vengeance as well as one of the best films of the year in Cloud Atlas), it is rightly regarded as one of the country’s best.

BenHurBoxing Day –

Ben Hur (More4, 11.45) – It’s just not Christmas without Ben Hur. Sword and sandal epics are what Christmas TV needs; Ben Hur, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Jason and the Argonauts, etc. It’s the time of year where it’s acceptable to watch an hour or so of a 3+ hour long film before giving in and changing channel, yet still feeling proud of yourself. Hopefully you time it just right so that you tune in just as the chariot race scene begins.

Paths of Glory (ITV4, 12.05) – Stanley Kubrick is a favourite of the Failed Critics team, even being inducted into our illustrious Corridor of Praise this year. His anti-war film from 1957 may be rather more tame than his more famous war film, Full Metal Jacket, but it is still just as impressive. It pits Kirk Douglas as the commanding officer, defending a group of soldiers facing a court martial. It’s bold and powerful, arguably the best of Kubrick’s pre-Strangelove films.

Fantastic Mr Fox (More4, 18.10) – Wes Anderson can be an acquired taste for some, but his quirky stop-motion animation based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book is a great film to wind down to after a long and tiring day of unwrapping presents, cooking a massive dinner, and pretending to be pleased at your annual gift set of Dove for Men from Boots.

Sightseers (Film4, 21.00) – As far as road trip films go, Ben Wheatley’s sinister and darkly comic story of a young couple from Redditch, serial killing their way through a caravan holiday, is one of the best, most disturbing and hilarious of its kind. It even made it onto James’ top 10 of 2012 list last year. If that isn’t recommendation enough, then I don’t know what is.

Horror of Dracula (BBC2, 00.10) – Remember when you were young and these Hammer Horror films used to be on TV really late at night? Me neither. I’m too young for that. But my dad assures me this was the case. Dracula, starring Sir Christopher Lee as in the titular role and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, is arguably one of their finest. Certainly one of their most iconic and justifiably so.

Best Films on TV: 28 October – 3 November

This week, the ghoulish Owen HuooooOOOoooOOooooOOoooooooooooghes picks the most gruesome and pant-wettingly terrifying horror films on TV, alongside the most pant, er, dryingly films in this Halloween special.

Final-Destination-Kerr-Smith-Devon-SawaMonday 28 October 

What to watch: Final Destination, Channel 5, 10.55pm – A group of kids trying to outrun Death himself opens itself up to some of the most creative character-deaths in the genre. Despite being 13 years old, it has aged surprisingly well. The story is inventive and darkly comic; like watching a supernatural movie version of an episode of Casualty.  That’s meant to be a positive comment, by the way.

What not to watch: House of Wax, ITV2, 11pm – Unfortunately this isn’t the 3D House of Wax from the 1950’s featuring the all time great Vincent Price. Instead, this is the Jaume Collet-Serra remake (I use that term loosely) from a few years ago. Instead of featuring of the most iconic actors of the horror genre, it has the utterly terrible Paris Hilton. Do not watch this if you’re looking for some late night scares. You won’t find them here.

Tuesday 29 October

What to watch: The Last Exorcism, Film4, 1.05am (Wednesday morning) – Found footage horrors aren’t for everybody (as our dear leader James will testify) but this combines the best of both found footage and possesion films to give us something particualrly frightening. It might not be the most original or groundbreaking 90 minutes of celluloid you’ll ever see, but you could do far worse this week.

What not to watch: Jeepers Creepers, 5*, 9pm – May be slightly harsh to say not to watch this early noughties supernatural tale of a demon hunting down some road tripping college kids, as the first half of Jeepers Creepers is fairly enjoyable. However, from the one and only time I’ve seen it (back in 2001 in the cinema) I remember laughing at how much it fell to pieces in the second half. From not-bad to utterly-terrible in the same amount of time it takes you to say “be eating you”.

Wednesday 30 October

What to watch: Drag Me To Hell, 5*, 9pm – It’s something of a mixed week for 5*. Each evening they will be showing a horror at 9pm, some worth watching, some not worth watching, and some I’ve not even bothered watching. On Wednesday though is Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi‘s return to the twisted and the gory with what is both hilarious and sickening all at the same time and such a welcome relief after the travesty that was Spider-Man 3. More of these please, Mr Raimi!

What not to watch: ??? – Between End of Days on Film4, and Hannibal on ITV2, I’m not sure I can pick a terrible film for you tonight as I’ve not seen either of them. It’s a pretty baron evening for horror on Wednesday. Just stick with Drag Me To Hell is my advice. Or get a DVD. Or Netflix. Or… anything really. It’s only one more day ’til Halloween, Silver Shamrock.

Thursday 31 October – HALLOWEEN!

What to watch: Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages, Film4, 1.10am – I’d love to tell you why you should also be as excited as I am about the screening of this Danish silent movie from 1922, but without having seen it myself yet, it would be somewhat hypocritical of me. What you should know is that this early mockumentary into the relationship between mental illness and witch hunts is very well regarded. I, for one, have been waiting to watch this for a long time and am very excited by it.

What not to watch: Halloween II, 5*, 9pm – You know, there actually isn’t an awful lot wrong with this sequel to the game-changing slasher John Carpenter original, but on a night where the dead will rise from their graves and the ghosts all come out to play, it’s not worth spending your time on this unless you really, really like the original. Like, really like it.

Friday 1 November

What to watch: Kill List, Film4, 00.30am (Sat) – Ben Wheatley’s British film about two contract killers (Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley) and some very peculiar jobs they take is perhaps best described as “not for everybody”. The cult elements that are very reminiscent of The Wicker Man make it something of an acquired taste but if you ask me, it’s one of the best British horror films for a long time.

What not to watch: Halloween: Resurrection, BBC1, 11.50pm – Why shouldn’t you watch this? Well, let me explain the synopsis to you. Busta Rhymes has an internet reality TV show where he invites people to stay in the childhood home of notorious serial killer, Michael Myers. I’m pretty sure you can guess the rest. And yes, it really is that bad.

Saturday 2 November

What to watch: Death Becomes Her, ITV3, 12.50pm – As the standard of horror films over the weekend diminishes somewhat, I thought it would be a good idea to show that not all films you can watch at Halloween have to make you jump or shit yourself. Some can just be downright amusing but with a supernatural element to them. Such as this Robert Zemeckis 90’s comedy featuring Bruce Willis as the husband caught in a feud between two women played by Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn who discover a magic elixir that promises them youth and beauty forever. It’s just a fun way to spend an afternoon, with a great comic turn by hard-man Willis.

What not to watch: Sabrina the Teenage Witch, 5*, 4pm – Like most kids growing up in the 90’s who had access to Nickelodeon, I also enjoyed the TV series featuring Melissa Joan Hart as a young girl living with her crazy witch aunts and their talking cat. But even as a kid, I knew that by making a film, they had taken it too far. Do. Not. Watch. This. Not even for nostalgic value. Spare yourself.

Sunday 3 November

What to watch: Ghostbusters, Channel 5, 1pm – It’s hardly Halloween without watching one of the best comedies ever made. Thank you Channel 5 for saving us the hassle of having to write to Points of View to complain. I suppose it can be argued that it’s actually the best movie on TV all week and I’m pretty sure you won’t see any complaints from the rest of the Failed Critics team about that.

What not to watch: Hocus Pocus, Film4, 4.45pm – OK, maybe it’s me, but I just don’t like this film. I never really enjoyed it as a kid, and when I’ve tried to watch it again now I’m older, it still doesn’t do anything for me. It’s very dated and not all that funny either. It’s also the only other supernatural film I could find on TV on Sunday and it’s nowhere near as good as Ghostbusters. It kind of “won” by default.

Best Films on TV: 16-22 September

Podcaster Owen Hughes lists the films on UK freeview TV this week that you should be watching. Or at least recording and then watching at a later date.

AmatterOfLifeAndDeathMonday 16 September – A Powell & Pressburger double bill (starting Film4 15:10)

Two for the price of one to kick off the week. Film4 are showing two films by British directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger back to back. Kicking off the afternoon is Black Narcissus (15:10), the story of a group of nuns trying to establish a convent in the remote mountains of the Himalayas. Following that is the fantasy world war drama about an aviator (David Niven) who must debate in heaven why he deserves to live in A Matter of Life And Death at 17:15. Both films have different views on what love is and how powerful an emotion it can be. It’s just a shame that the best P&P film, The Red Shoes, isn’t on to make it a triple bill!

Tuesday 17 September – As Good as It Gets (5*, 21:00)

In honour of one of the greatest ever actors to grace our screens, Jack Nicholson, who announced his official retirement recently following his ailing memory loss problems, Tuesday’s choice is As Good As It Gets. A story chronicling the life of an OCD bigoted writer, it won both Jack and Helen Hunt an Oscar each for the performances.

Wednesday 18 September – Dreams That Money Can Buy (Film4, 2:10am (so, Thursday then))

If you enjoyed last years surreal French film Holy Motors, as discussed on on our website in various articles and podcasts over the last 12 months, then this equally bonkers American experimental film project from the late 1940’s might be right up your street. It features several short surrealist movies by various directors/artists, such as Max Ernst, Man Ray and Hans Richter to name but a few. Utterly bizarre but well worth a watch.

Thursday 19 September – Das Boot (Film4, 23:25)

The Boat (or Das Boot to give it its original German title) is the best film of 1981 and as such, it is also the best film on TV on Thursday. Wolfgang Petersen‘s claustrophobic tale on the folly of war is (as Matt describes it in his Decade in Film article) “not just a great Submarine movie, it’s a fantastic movie in it’s own right “. A true classic that deserves the 3+ hours of your life it will take to watch.

Friday 20 September – Brighton Rock (1947) (Film4, 17:25)

A good, solid British gangster flick starring an excellent Richard Attenborough as cruel, manipulative tough guy “Pinkie”, based on an extremely well regarded novel, Brighton Rock is quite rightly a classic of cinema. Maybe its reputation is slightly overrated, with one or two corny / dated bits here and there, but nevertheless, it’s a very dark film and the plot of a gangster on the run is still just as interesting now as it ever was.

Saturday 21 September – The Quiet Man (Film4, 14:50)

It’s been a very Film4 centric week so far and Saturday is continuing the trend into the weekend. Having recently become something of a John Wayne, I am yet to watch what is regarded by some as one of his most accomplished acting performances. As an American boxer returning home to Ireland, the Duke ends up battling with his neighbours, his wife (Maureen O’Hara) and his own conscience in John Ford’s romantic comedy.

Sunday 22 September – Citizen Kane (Film4, 9pm)

Rosebud… Up until last year when it was knocked off the top of Sight & Sound’s reputable list of the best films ever by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”, Orson Welles‘ directorial debut was considered by many to be the greatest film of all time. Revolutionary in what it did for cinema, made at just the age of 26, it turned its director into an international icon. Not only is it a very important movie, it’s also a really good one! So much more than just the story of the rise and fall of a powerful publishing company owner,if you’re yet to watch it and ever wondered what the fuss was about, then make sure you don’t pass up this opportunity.

Best Films on TV: 19-25 August

Site editor James Diamond picks his favourite films on free-to-air UK television this week.

Evil Dead IIMonday 19th August – Evil Dead II (Film4, 12.35am)

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell reunite for the sequel to the groundbreaking original. This film is a funnier, and less ‘nasty’ movie than Evil Dead, and for me is the best of the trilogy.

Tuesday 20th August – Crank (ITV4, 10pm)

A little like this month’s Pain & Gain, Crank is a film you need to watch having left your morals and conscience at the door. It’s an exploitation film featuring racial stereotypes, an unhealthy view of women, and a protagonist named Chev Chelios (The Stath in fine form). If you can get past that though, it’s simply one of the most relentless and entertaining action films of the last ten years.

Wednesday 21st August – The Social Network (Film4, 9pm)

Directed by David Fincher from a script by Aaron Sorkin, everything about this ‘biopic’ of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is stylish and brilliantly realised. Great central performances from Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, and Armie Hammer keep the audience engaged in what is essentially a film about computer programmers squabbling. Gripping stuff.

Thursday 22nd August – The Imposter (Channel 4, 9pm)

This earned bronze in Best of 2012 choices, and here’s what I had to say about it:

“This is one of those documentaries that hammers home the cliché that truth really is stranger than fiction. It tells us the story of a young French man who impersonated a missing 13-year-old boy from Texas, ensconcing himself within the family home and their community with tall tales of being trafficked by the military. What makes this film more than a weird Channel 5 documentary is its innovative use of recreated flashbacks and, most importantly, interviews with the people at the centre of this strange situation – including the con-man himself. A true story that plays out like a Coen Brothers thriller, this film really has everything.”

Friday 23rd August – Pan’s Labyrinth (Film4, 1am)

Quite simply one of the finest films of the last decade, and an example of what Guillermo del Torro is capable of with the right script (I’m looking at you, Pacific Rim).

Saturday 24th August – The Long Kiss Goodnight (Watch, 10pm)

One of the great forgotten action thrillers of the nineties, this was written by Shane Black at the height of his powers and earning potential. The film’s underwhelming box office performance had a huge effect on him though, and he didn’t have another script produced for nine years (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which he directed himself). Geena Davis stars as a housewife with no memory of her Jason Bourne-esque former secret agent career, until her life is threatened. It is also director Reny Harlin, and co-star Samuel Jackson’e favourite film of their long careers.

Sunday 25th August – Stand By Me (Five, 3.55pm)

Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s short story is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing with the family. A coming of age story that hits all the right notes of rebellion and nostalgia and still fits into a sub-90 minute running time. Great stuff.

Best Films on TV: 29 July – 4 August 2013

Back again for a third time in a row is Owen Hughes, here to tell us all what films are worth watching this week. Seven different films from seven different channels, apparently.

TremorsMonday 29 July – Tremors (ITV4 9pm)

I love a bit of Bacon, particularly when it’s called Kevin and featured in a classic creature-feature like Tremors. Unable to take advantage of EE’s 2 for 1 cinema ticket offer because he’s deep underground (I don’t know why I typed all that out either because I too am sick of that joke now) you can find him here in what is undoubtedly the finest monster movie ever made to feature Kevin Bacon.

Tuesday 30 July – Kickboxer (5USA, 11.20pm)

With news coming out this week that both Bloodsport and Kickboxer, the two films that made Jean-Claude Van Damme‘s name in the late 80’s, have been green lit for remakes, it seems oddly fitting that 5USA are airing one of those two very films this week. A typical revenge movie in many ways, this film sees the muscles from Brussels avenge his American brother Eric in a thai boxing tournament against the ruthless fighter Tong Po. Maybe not quite as good as Bloodsport, but here’s hoping they air that next week too so I can fit yet another JCVD film into a best film on TV article!

Wednesday 31 July – Wall-E (BBC3 8.30pm)

Directed by Andrew Stanton who had previous success at Pixar with A Bug’s Life and even more spectacularly so with Finding Nemo, Wall-E tells the tale of one robot left on Earth to clear up all the rubbish left behind by the humans that have abandoned it. It’s sweet, touching, funny and beautiful but hopefully not prophetic. A film of two halves, but luckily for us, both halves are great.

Thursday 1 August – Paranormal Activity (ITV2 9pm)

BOO! Did I make you jump? Probably not. I’m better off leaving it to professionals such as Oren Peli, with his found footage haunted house horror film that revitalised the genre like no other film did since The Blair Witch Project. You can check out what we thought of Paranormal Activity (and its sequels) in our podcast review of the 4th film in the franchise.

Friday 2 August – Ocean Waves (Film4 11am)

A “made for TV” Studio Ghibli film it may be, but Ocean Waves is quite possibly my favourite film of theirs to date. It’s the story of a bloke who reminisces about his old school days, particularly about one girl and his best mate. It may not sound like a “typical” Ghibli film (i.e. not a fantasy involving weird creatures, witches or Totoro) but it’s such a lovely nostalgic film. I’m sure you will hear me waxing lyrical about it at some point in the future when our Studio Ghibli special episode of the podcast gets made.

Saturday 3 August – Kick-Ass (Channel 4, 10pm)

Based on a comic by Mark Millar (almost as if he was writing a comic book he knew would be made into a film, funny that) where the focus is “why don’t kids dress up as heroes and fight crime?” Well, the answer to that is “because they’d get stabbed”, but hey, at least they’d get to meet Nic Cage doing his Adam West impression. If fun, over the top action and lots of sweary words sound like the kinds of things you look for in films, then look no further than Kick-Ass.

Sunday 4 August – The Rocketeer (Channel 5, 2.30pm)

If, however, you prefer your comic book heroes a little less violent and a little more camp and traditional, then Channel 5 are here to help with 1991’s pulpy comic hero The Rocketeer! A young pilot (Billy Campbell) finds a rocket pack in the middle of nowhere. He enlists the help of his mechanic friend Peevee in an attempt to rescue his girlfriend from a Nazi threat. It’s as bonkers as it sounds but good fun!

Best Films on TV: 17-23 June 2013

We would like to apologise for being so quiet over the last few weeks, and we are hoping to be back to something approaching normality very soon. In the meantime, here are site editor James Diamond’s picks for the best films on free-to-air television this week. 

DieHardWillisMonday 17th June – Die Hard (Film4, 9pm)

It’s been our film of the day before, but there are horrendously slim pickings tonight. Watching it will help any poor unfortunate father whose family fell for the terrible ‘get your dad Die Hard 5 for Father’s Day’ marketing ploys. Talking of terrible films, one of the very worst I’ve ever seen is on True Movies 1 at 9pm: Runaway Car. It’s like Speed but with a family saloon car, and starring Judge Reinhold.

Tuesday 18th June – Lord of War (5USA, 9pm)

Another less than thrilling line-up of films today, but Andrew Niccol (writer of The Truman Show and writer/director of Gattaca) has crafted an interesting tale plotting the rise and fall of an international arms dealer. The film features an uncharacteristically subtle performance from Nic Cage, and one of the best opening title sequences of recent times. You’ll want to punch Jared Leto in the face more than normally though.

Wednesday 19th June – Hot Shots! (E4, 8pm)

Charlie Sheen stars in the last great Jim Abrahams (co-creator of Airplane and The Naked Gun) film, which has the rare distinction of being better than the film it is lampooning (the horribly overrated and criminally boring Top Gun). Averages about 33 and a third laughs per minute, and features a scene-stealing performance from Lloyd Bridges.

Thursday 20th June – Inglourious Basterds (Film4, 10.45pm)

This film is everything that is good and frustrating about Quentin Tarantino. It’s essentially four great scenes surrounded by over-the-top violence and immaturity, but what incredible scenes! Christoph Waltz commands your attention for every microsecond he is onscreen, and Michael Fassbender excels in one of my choices for Best Movie Bar Scenes

Friday 21st June – Fight Club (Film4, 11.10pm)

Arguably the most feted of David Fincher’s films (although Se7en still pips it for me), the first rule of writing about Fight Club is to reference the famous first rule of Fight Club. Check. You can also watch Fincher’s Panic Room beforehand at 9pm.

In the oddest piece of scheduling I’ve seen for some time, the family-friendly POW/football crossover hit Escape to Victory is on at 3am on ITV1.

Saturday 22nd June – Escape from New York (ITV4, 10.55pm)

The perfect Saturday night film, and the first of John Carpenter’s outstanding 80s collaborations with Kurt Russell. In the not-too-distant future (1997, to be precise) New York has become a no-go area teeming with criminals and led by a scary Isacc Hayes. When Air Force One crashes in this no-mans-land, the military send career criminal Snake Plisken in to rescue the President. Timeless action.

For the three of you who still haven’t seen it, Oldboy is also on Film4 at 1.40am.

Sunday 23rd June – Before Sunrise (BBC1, 23.25)

Quite simply one of my favourite films about love, featuring a brilliantly cocky-yet-vulnerable performance from Ethan Hawke and a please-God-marry-me turn from Julie Delpy. Basically a 90 minute dialogue between two strangers who find themselves sharing a day and night in Vienna, where nothing much happens, but the protagonists are changed forever. Watch this, hunt down the sequel Before Sunset, then count the days until Before Midnight is released next month.

Best Films on TV: 10-17 June 2013

Hi honey, we’re home! Site editor James Diamond is back from holiday and can’t wait to recommend the best films on terrestrial TV this week. God knows what you did last week without our guidance. We hope you didn’t actually try and talk to anyone.

The Truman ShowMonday 10th June – The Truman Show (Film4, 7.05pm)

Jim Carrey pulls off the archetypal ‘comic actor in semi-serious role’ with aplomb in Peter Weir’s film about a man who has unwittingly spent his entire life as the star of a reality TV show. Then again, I’m sure you’ve all seen this already, so as a bonus today I also recommend the Pedro Almodovar film Talk to Her (Film4, 0.55am) on behalf of the podcast’s resident Spanish cinema expert, Gerry McAuley. He had this to say about it in his 2002 Decade in Film piece:

On the face of it, Hable con Ella is a pretty odd film. It centres on the solitude and inner turmoil of two men who bond over the beds of the female coma victims who they care for, the gradual entanglement of their lives – whilst in parallel the events leading up to the film’s present are slowly unravelled in flashbacks. There is a quiet power to the film which draws the viewer into this world so deeply that it is impossible to forget. Essentially, old Pedro tests how far he can push an audience (again), this time in terms of how much you’re willing to forgive because you like someone. I often say this about foreign films on the podcast but THIS IS WHAT CINEMA IS ABOUT. Tremendous performances, a director whose vision is so clear and whose skill is so well-developed that they are able to interweave symbolism and narrative to devastating effect, a story which engages throughout and an exploration of wider themes and societal issues without being preachy or ever failing to entertain.

Tuesday 11th June – Cube (Horror Channel, 9pm)

A cult classic from 1997, Cube is a cunningly simple low-budget sci-fi/horror film that delivers in spades. Six strangers awake to find themselves in maze constructed of a seemingly infinite number of cubes, each with its own deadly boobytraps and puzzles. The strangers must work together and use their unique skill sets to escape, and find out why they were chosen. Not for the faint-hearted.

Wednesday 12th June – Con Air (BBC3, 9pm)

There was a time in the nineties when Nicolas Cage was the best, and most unlikely, action hero working in Hollywood. He was a new breed of action star who didn’t solely rely on physique or a funny accent, but could actually, you know, ‘act’. Con Air is my personal favourite of this era (narrowly edging out The Rock and Face/Off), also featuring some entertaining performances from John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, and John Cusack.

“Put the bunny back in the box”.

Thursday 13th June – A Knight’s Tale (Film4, 6.25pm)

Some films charm you despite all their ingredients being completely wrong. For me, this is one of those films. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (who wrote the screenplays for Mystic River, Man on Fire, and L.A. Confidential) it stars Heath Ledger (before we started taking him seriously) as a peasant squire who cons his way into medieval jousting tournaments as a nobleman, with an uber-anachronistic Queen and Robbie Williams soundtrack. It’s actually a lot of fun, and Paul Bettany is an absolute star as a young pre-fame Chaucer.

Friday 14th June – The Breakfast Club (BBC2, 11.05pm)

Much like Owen Hughes will always find a zombie and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme film to recommend, I can’t help myself when a John Hughes film turns up on television, and this is the pinnacle of not only his films, but teen films in general.

SPOILERS

Saturday 15th June – Superman (5USA, 12pm)

Richard Donner’s take on the ‘Man of Steel’ is one of the great comic book film adaptations, and sets a very high bar for Zak Snyder’s Man of Steel (released this weekend). Christopher Reeve was a virtual unknown when cast, and apparently modeled his performance on Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. Gene Hackman co-stars as one of cinemas great villains, Lex Luthor. You can catch Superman II at 6.25pm on the same channel, although its hugely different comic tone feels odd after the seriousness and grandeur of the original. You could always try and get a copy of the Richard Donner cut though.

Sunday 16th June – Valhalla Rising (BBC2, 11.30pm)

If you stay up to watch this before having to get up early for work the next morning, don’t blame me for any nightmares or general sense of mental anguish you experience. Reviews from Cannes suggest that director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives features only 17 lines spoken by its star Ryan Gosling, and this film proves Refn has previous in this area. Valhalla Rising is the story of a mute viking warrior (played by my current acting crush Mads Mikkelsen) who starts off as a slave and ends up quite literally dragging everyone around him to a dark and violent hell. Pure art-house action and violence.

Best Films on TV: 27 May to 2 June

The best free-to-air films on television every day this week, as chosen by Fast and Furious series convert and  site editor, James Diamond.

He’s too busy trying to watch the new Arrested Development season 4 and packing for a holiday to spend much time on his recommendations this week. It’s probably for the best.

unforgivenMonday 27th May – Unforgiven (TCM, 9pm)

The Oscar-winning western that laid to rest Clint Eastwood’s legendary career in the genre. Great performances from Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Morgan Freeman elevate the film to classic status.

Tuesday 28th May – Green Zone (Film4, 9pm)

Today’s film sees Matt Damon reteam with Bourne Ultimatum and Bourne Supremacy director Paul Greengrass. Based on the non-fiction book ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’, it explores the US involvement in the restructuring of Iraq after the second Gulf War in 2003, as well as the search for WMD. For those who want a late night fright, the utterly wonderful Let the Right One In is on Film4 at 1.25am. My review from last year is here.

Wednesday 29th May – The Italian Job (Film4, 7pm)

Michael Caine at his cheeky chappy best. He plays Charlie Croker, a con recently released from prison who plans the heist to end all heists right under the nose of the mafia. Cue Mini Coopers racing around Turin, Noel Coward orchestrating events from prison, and “you’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off”.

Thursday 30th May – Forrest Gump (Film4, 9pm)

Beginning to be a bit of a Film4 love-in here, but there’s really no competition today. Tom Hanks in a career-defining role that isn’t as schmaltzy as you might remember. A stunning achievement in cinema (although Pulp Fiction should still have won the Best Picture Oscar that year).

Friday 31st May – The Man Who Haunted Himself (Horror Channel, 4pm)

There’s not a huge choice today, so I’m just going to recommend a film that our very own Owen Hughes recently wrote about in his Decade in Film piece for 1970:

“1970 was an almost “inbetween” year for Roger Moore. By the time this film was released, he was already a household name. Not because he was Bond, James Bond; he was still yet to play 007 for another 3 years! But because of his role in one of the highest rated British TV shows of the 60s, The Saint. Wanting to show he was more than just a camp heroic adventurer, he collaborated with British director Basil Dearden and showcased a rather more serious side to his acting ability.

I’m not much of a Bond fan. When I was younger, I preferred Sean Connery (much to my dads disapproval) although as I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate and prefer Moore’s take on Ian Flemming’s iconic character. But it’s here, and not in the world of secret spy espionage, that I think I have found my favourite film of Moore’s.

Shot like a mystery thriller with elements of the film noir genre about it, copiously straddling various different answers to its myriad of questions before finally drawing the curtain back and revealing what has been going on all along – it plays on the concepts of identity theft, of schizophrenia and psychosis. It spends time developing the story, enhancing the mystery element and finally in getting the best out of and then delivering an exquisite performance from its star actor. Combined with a fantastically early 70s look, a late 60s swing and a very catchy theme tune by Michael J Lewis (that even now creeps into my subconscious every so often and loops around my head all morning) the effort that has gone into it definitely paid off.”

Saturday 1st June – A Few Good Men (Watch, 10pm)

Another day, another film review I can steal from one of my colleagues. This time it’s Kate Diamond’s Decade in Film for 1992:

“In a court house of the United States government, one man will stop at nothing to keep his honour, one will stop at nothing to find the truth, and Kevin Bacon has the most remarkable haircut you ever did see. Aaron Sorkin wrote the oft-quoted screenplay after hearing about a similar case in Guantanamo Bay, on which his sister was a military attorney. The Sorkin trademark ‘walk & talk’ also originated in this movie.

Despite winning precisely nothing at the Oscars, critics and the box office deemed it a hit, and it went on to be the most commercially successful work of hero director Rob Reiner. A veritable all-star cast, including Tom Cruise at his preppy nineties peak, Jack Nicholson chugging on cigars and shouting ‘I’m gonna rip the eyes out of your head and piss into your dead skull!’, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollak, Kiefer Sutherland and plenty of others. A Few Good Men is a largely court room based tale of honour, loyalty and Code Reds. It’s also a pretty great advert for never joining the Marines.”

Sunday 2nd June – The Karate Kid (Watch, 12.30pm)

I’ve not seen it for years, but I cannot imagine this film being anything less than the superlative film about learning to stand up to bullies that I remember from my youth. Ralph Macchio (last seen in this year’s Hitchcock) is ‘Daniel San’, or at least that’s what the mystical Mr Miyagi keeps calling him. Through the power of household chores, Daniel San becomes a bit of a karate legend, and has to face down his tormentors in competition. Someone sweeps the leg, someone does a ‘crane kick’ and we all get down to Joe Espostio’s ‘You’re the Best Around’

Best Films on TV: 20th to 26th May

The best* free-to-air films on television every day this week, as chosen the mad, bad, and dangerous to know site editor, James Diamond

*’best’ is a subjective term and James will deal with any criticism of these choices by sticking his fingers in his ears and humming Beethoven’s Ninth until you go away.

Beverly Hills Cop movie image Judge ReinholdMonday 20th May – The Jerk (ITV4, 12.10am)

Steve Martin’s film debut (he also co-wrote the script) is also arguably his funniest screen performance. Martin plays Navin R. Johnson, the adopted white son of African american sharecroppers who remains blissfully unaware of his genetic heritage until adulthood. Despite a rather crass-sounding premise, this film is both stupid and rather sweet-natured; similar in tone to its obvious descendant Dumb and Dumber.

In a rare move for this blog, I am also going to nominate the worst film on TV today, which is undoubtedly Silent Hill (Film4, 11.25pm). A film so bad it’s the closest I’ve come to walking out of a cinema, and manages to make Uwe Boll’s computer game adaptations look like Oscar winners.

Tuesday 21st May – The Last Samurai (5USA, 9pm)

I love Tom Cruise like our very own Owen Hughes loves Jean-Claude Van Damme (incidentally, JCVD’s Cyborg is on tonight, Sky 1, 9pm), and this is one of those films where he cannot be accused of playing cheeky chappy Tom Cruise. Instead he is a bearded Civil War veteren, recruited to train the Japanese Meiji government forces, hellbent on destroying the last remaining samurai who are resistant to the new western-influenced order. While it doesn’t offer anything particularly new, it looks wonderful and Cruise and Ken Watanabe’s central relationship drives the film.

Wednesday 22nd May – Hotel Rwanda (Channel 4, 1.45am)

You’ll need to stay up pretty late to watch a great film that you might not have seen before (the brilliant The Bourne Identity is getting its weekly outing, ITV2, 10pm). So get a pot of coffee on (or more sensibly, set your generic DVR to record) for this true life tale of a hotel manager who helped protect over a thousand refugees during a bloody war in Rwanada.

Thursday 23rd May – Beverly Hills Cop (Film4, 9pm)

Sometimes a film screams the decade it comes from through every pore of its body. Eddie Murphy at his acerbic and foul-mouthed best? Odd couble/buddy cop film with car chases and gin fights galore? Instantly recognisable all-synthesiser score? Judge Reinhold starring? Yep, Beverly Hills Cop IS the 1980s.

Friday 24th May – One Million Years BC (Film4, 5.15pm)

Early this month we lost the great Ray Harryhausen, the special effects genius who entertained and terrified millions of youngsters over the years with his stop-motion monsters. Although not quite in the same league as Jason and the Argonauts, this frankly odd tale of human lust and betrayal set against their age-old battles with dinosaurs. Hey, if all films were scientifically accurate then what would internet obsessives have to moan about?

Saturday 25th May – The Ladykillers (More 4, 1.15pm)

Saturday afternoon usually offers a classic to settle down and rediscover, and this weekend is no exception. Possibly the finest (and certainly the most famous) Ealing comedy, the Ladykillers stars Alec Guinness as the leader of a gang hiding out from the law, but constantly thwarted in their attempts by a seemingly benign and doddery old lady. The evening also gives us an opportunity to revisit Nic Roeg’s at times bonkers, and at other times brilliant and incisive, sci-fi classic The Man Who Fell To Earth (BBC2, 10.50pm)

Sunday 26th May – Festen (Film4, 11.20pm)

While you are unlikely to see as messy and amateur-looking a film all week, the first ever Dogme 95 film is an utterly captivating story of a family reunion, and the revelation of a dark secret that threatens to destroy lives. Directed by Thomas Vinterburg (who directed last year’s The Hunt), this is a triumph of substance over style. Brilliant performances and the lo-fi filming style pull in the viewer far more than any 3D ever could.

Best films on TV – week commencing 25th March 2013

Here is my selection of the best films showing on UK free-to-air television this week. Yes, these are the ‘best’ ones in my opinion, not some kind of universal truth. Tweet me about how wrong I am if you like but I’m hardly going to change my mind!

The Battle Royale of 'Battle Royales'Monday 25th March – The Godfather: Part II  (Film4, 9pm)

You watched The Godfather on Sunday at 9 right? We did tell you in last week’s article before you start claiming ignorance. Just like 24 hours earlier, it’s an unusual day when this film isn’t the best film on TV. Pacino is outstanding, the story is phenomenal, it’s a classic of cinema. I don’t really need to say anything else. You will be up to nigh on 1am though, which isn’t great if like me you are boring and like to get 8 hours a night, every night.

Tuesday 26th March – Spirited Away (Film4, 6.30pm)

Today marks the start of Film4’s Studio Ghibli season, which everyone should be taking advantage of. Like a Japanese Pixar/Disney, Studio Ghibli is a byword for top-notch animation. Spirited Away found fame in the West by winning the Best Animated Film Oscar in 2003 and, slightly more prestigiously, being recognised as one of the year’s best films by yours truly on a site not a million miles from here. The film tells the story of a young girl who, on the way to moving to a new house, finds herself in a magical spirit world trying to save her parents who have been turned into pigs (happens to me all the time). It encapsulates childhood, fantasy and the sense of magical wonder we all unfortunately seem to lose when we hit puberty; frankly, if you don’t like this film you and I are probably not going to get on. A masterpiece.

Wednesday 27th March – Copycat (More4, 10pm)

On a truly magnificent day for films, I’m avoiding the two obvious choices quite simply because otherwise this will look like a Film4-sponsored piece). Nonetheless, an evening of Princess Mononoke (6.05pm) followed by The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (9pm) might be bum-numbing but it sounds bloody fantastic to me. Assuming people have lives, though, set those to record and watch Copycat, the 1995 tale of Sigourney Weaver’s agorophobic criminal psychologist trying to catch a serial killer who seems to be a fan of a whole bunch of other serial killers. It’s not as good as The Silence of the Lambs or Se7en, films it clearly draws heavily upon, but if you like either of those you will find a lot to enjoy here. Sigourney reckons this is the performance she’s most proud of, which should be enough to sell it to you, and it’s a shame this got lost amongst a deluge of serial killer thrillers in this period.

Thursday 28th March – Doubt (BBC4, 10pm)

Yes, the 2nd LOTR film is on tonight. Watch that if you haven’t seen it already. I think pretty much everyone who wants to has, though, which makes Doubt today’s best film. Quite simply, if you like good acting, you will like this film. Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman do battle in mesmerising fashion, supported by an astonishing Amy Adams (who showed the world she should be taken seriously with this performance) and future Oscar nominee Viola Davis. In fact, all four got Oscar nods – PSH for best supporting actor, Streep for best leading actress and Adams and Davis competing for the supporting actress gong – along with writer/director John Patrick Shanley for best adapted screenplay. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be – a combination of Heath Ledger, Slumdog Millionaire, Kate Winslet and, most bizarrely, Penelope Cruz (in forgettable Woody Allen Spaniard vehicle Vicky Cristina Barcelona) denying this excellent film success.

Friday 29th March – Battle Royale (Film4, 12:55am)

I don’t care what anyone says, The Hunger Games is a poor man’s Battle Royale. And I liked The Hunger Games quite a lot. Which means, beloved reader, Battle Royale is bloody outstanding. It’s as shocking today as it was on release (which I’ve written about previously) yet despite the copious amounts of gore, communicates a deeper message. Like the best of all art, it tells us something about society as well as entertaining. ‘Like Tarantino, but they’re Japanese’ as a mate once said.

Saturday 30th March – My Neighbour Totoro (Film4, 4:55pm)

Possibly the animated film that has filled me with joy more than any other (and I really do like animated films), My Neighbour Totoro is Studio Ghibli at its finest. Of course, you’ll have already watched Spirited Away on Tuesday so by now you will have an idea of the sheer magic that is a Hayao Miyazaki film. This 1988 masterpiece tells the story of two young girls who discover that the woods around their new home are inhabited by magical creatures. All I can say is that on its initial release in Japan this was only available as a double-bill with Grave of the Fireflies, which sounds like the most perfect combination imaginable if one wanted to represent all the aspects of childhood on screen. Watch it. Love it. Worship it. Rave about it to all your friends and family. Wish you had a real Totoro as a constant companion. Remember how bloody amazing being a kid was. Yes, it really is that good.

Honourable mention today for The Secret in their Eyes (BBC4, 9.50pm), the quite brilliant Argentinian film that took home Best Foreign Language Oscar 2010 and currently sits ahead of Rocky, The Exorcist and others at #155 on the IMDB 250 [in fact, it’s rated 8.1 – the same as Mary and Max which we discussed on a recent podcast]. Totoro followed by this would make an excellent evening’s viewing, most certainly.

Sunday 31st March – The Girl Who Played With Fire (Film4, 11pm)

On an Easter Sunday packed with cinematic choice, this was a hard one. There’s such a feast of films, you could go for a theme. Family films or Westerns for instance. The Goonies or True Grit (the original) might occupy your afternoon from 1.30 and 1:45pm respectively. Then you could move on to Arrietty (5.15pm) or the best Western ever Wild Wild West (5.55pm). That last one was a joke before you start tweeting me.

This Scandinavian powerhouse of a film is rather good though. There may or may not be an American remake but proper cinema fans will want to see the (superior) Swedish trilogy, with the excellent Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth. Violent, thrilling and with a powerful storyline – what’s not to like? 

Best films on TV – week commencing 18th March 2013

Here is my selection of the best films showing on UK free-to-air television this week. I say ‘best’, but these things are very subjective. Basically, stop telling me on Twitter that I chose rubbish films.

Feeling, so good today!
Feeling, so good today!

Monday 18th March – Gremlins (ITV2 at 11pm)

If the nostalgia trip of the weekend’s film choices hasn’t satisfied you, then why not live out your childhood a little longer with an unseasonal showing of one of the darker Christmas films of recent times. Joe Dante’s Gremlins is a brilliant b-movie homage, with its only let-down being a flaw in its internal logic. If you can’t feed a gremlin after midnight, when can you give them breakfast?

Tuesday 19th March – Outbreak (Sky One at 10pm)

I bloody love a good disaster movie, and this is a bloody good disaster movie. Helmed by Das Boot director Wolfgang Petersen, the film charts the spread of a deadly airborne disease that threatens to wipe out half of mankind if it isn’t contained. Like the great disaster films of the sixties and seventies, this features an impressive ensemble cast that includes Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Donald Sutherland. And possibly Marcel the monkey from Friends.

Wednesday 20th March – Serpico (Film 4 at 9pm)

There was a time when Al Pacino was the finest actor on the planet. Some of his work in the seventies is quite simply breathtaking. Here is another example of a master of his craft, being directed by another in Sidney Lumet. Frank Serpico is one of the few honest cops in his New York precinct, but his principles turn his colleagues against him, and put his life in danger when he decides to whistle-blow.

Thursday 21st March – Kickboxer (5USA at 10pm)

I know that Owen Hughes of this parish disagrees with me, and he may well be better qualified than almost anyone when it comes to the work of Jean-Claude Van Damme, but this is categorically and without doubt the finest film in the Muscles from Brussels’ career. JCVD plays Kurt Sloane, the suspiciously European-sounding brother of all-American hero Eric Sloane, who nearly dies when facing the villainous Tong-Po in a kickboxing match in Thailand. Kurt then goes off to train in the forest under the supervision of a wise old fella who gets him to work out while doing odd jobs, and encourages the practice of kicking trees until you break your leg.

It’s basically Karate Kid for grown-ups, and features the single best dance moves committed to film.

Friday 22nd March – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Film 4 at 11am)

I recently wrote about this film for my 1961 Decade in Film piece so, at the risk at repeating myself, this is Audrey Hepburn at her most incredible. There’s a reason the images of her have become a cliché in recent years, so watch this and see what all the fuss was about.

Saturday 23rd March – Project Nim (BBC2 at 9.30pm)

In an ideal world where Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy received the big screen adaptation it deserved (rather than the okay-ish effort it actually got), it would have been my choice for today (BBC2 at 5pm). There’s also a Danny Boyle night on Film 4 with the brilliant Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later showing from 9pm. However  I’m pretty sure most people have already seen those. S0 I’m going to play my weekly ‘I’ve not seen it but it looks good’ card on the network première of a documentary about a Chimpanzee raised as a child by a New York family in the 1970s, in an attempt to discover if the chimp could learn to understand human communication. I’ll probably watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes directly afterwards.

Sunday 24th March – The Godfather (Film 4 at 9pm)

There’s a nostalgic battle royale as Back to the Future and The Goonies are shown at the same time today (#TeamMarty), but on pretty much any day The Godfather is shown, it is sure to be the best film on TV. Owen recently wrote about it for our Decade in Film series, and it features another incredible performance from Al Pacino. The scene in the diner before his first murder is a master class in film acting, with his ability to tell a character’s story through the eyes simply a joy to watch.

Best Films on TV – week commencing 11th March 2013

Every week we bring you the best of the films on UK free-to-air television. Well, we say the best…

This week’s selections are brought to you by site editor James Diamond, just so you know where to send the abuse.

short circuit ally sheedyMonday 11th MarchMary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Sony Movies at 10.50pm)

Kenneth Branagh’s unfairly maligned retelling of the classic monster tale (although Branagh banned all mentions of the ‘m’ word on set, and insisted that Robert De Niro’s character be referred to as ‘The Sharp-Featured Man’). Frankensein is a wonderfully atmospheric film, and in my opinion has dated far better than Francis Ford Coppola’s companion piece Bram Stoker’s Dracula (which Coppola was originally scheduled to direct).

Tuesday 12th MarchMicmacs (Film 4 at 9pm)

Another of my blind recommendations, and another film that I shamefully own and haven’t actually gotten around to watching. In this case my ignorance is as confusing as it is unforgivable, as director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of my favourite directors. The synopsis suggests some kind of live-action Wallace and Gromit meets the A-Team, as a group of social misfits conspire to bring down an arms manufacturer. Expect the kind of visual flair and optimistic heart that made everyone fall in love with Amelie and Delicatessen.

Wednesday 13th MarchSuperbad (5* at 9pm)

While we have seen a number of cheap, unfunny, and often bizarrely unlikeable teen comedies in the last few years, I honestly think Superbad is up there with the best of this particular genre. It’s not particularly clever, or ground-breaking, but this story of teen outcasts and their desperate mission to belong shares it’s lineage with the great films of John Hughes, and is the equal of the original American Pie. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill provide the heart of the film, but it’s Christopher Mitz-Plasse, Seth Rogen, and Bill Hader’s adventures that provide the film’s high points.

Thursday 14th MarchThere Will Be Blood (BBC2 at 11.20pm)

I’m going to be honest – I don’t really get all the fuss about Paul Thomas Anderson. He’s obviously a talented director, who gets brilliant performances from his actors (Daniel Day Lewis won one of his record-breaking three Best Actor Oscars in his performance here as Daniel Plainview), but often for me the whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. I’m yet to love a PTA film. That said, There Will Be Blood is as close as I have gotten to loving one of his films.

Friday 15th MarchThree Kings (ITV2 at 11.45pm)

Wow, this was tough choosing, and there’s certainly plenty of choice on television tonight if my of the day doesn’t take your fancy (Rocky 3, Fight Club, Love Actually, and The Baader Meinhof Complex for starters). I’m going for Three Kings, the story of US soldiers during the first Gulf War who discover a trove of Kuwaiti gold stolen by Saddam, and plot to sneak it out of Iraq. Director David O. Russell showed with Silver Linings Playbook that he is very adept at mixing great comedy with crushing drama, as well as getting great performances out of his actors. George Clooney is, well, George Clooney, but the most surprisinglt great performances come from Mark Whalberg and Spike Jonze. Yep, this Spike Jonze.

Saturday 16th MarchShort Circuit (SyFy at 7pm)

For me the weekend is all about lounging around with your family and friends, watching the same films that thrilled you as a kid. Sometimes you’re left with the taste of unreliable nostalgia crapping in your mouth as you realise that the film that you loved as a kid is actually pretty substandard. You try and make light of the situation as your partner gives you a look that says “seriously, I wasted my afternoon of this?” You’re left trying to make light of it, or pretend you only ever really liked it in an ironic way, but the damage is done. Your wife will never respect you again, and your children are just hoping to God you never meet their friends.

I promise you, this DEFINITELY WON’T happen with Short Circuit. It’s near perfect.

Sunday 17th MarchTremors (ITV4 at 9pm)

Another of my favourite films growing up, and another film that definitely stands the test of time (helped in no small measure by the fact that it’s practically impossible for cheaply made b-movies to age). Kevin Bacon stars as one of a small number of townsfolk cut off from the outside world by an unseen creature picking off the inhabitants one-by-one. Genuinely bonkers, and utterly lovable 50s horror homage.

Best Films on TV. Week commencing 4th March 2013

We’re trying to add a little order and class to the proceedings, so from this week we’ll be publishing our popular (but erratic) #bestfilmonTV recommendations from Twitter in advance. This weeks films have been chosen by podcast contributor and prolific film consumer, Owen Hughes.

fightscenes-rocky-590x350Monday 4th March – Rocky, Channel 5 at 23.00

One man against the odds, down and out on his luck, the girl, the drunk friend, the montage, the music; sure Rocky is about as cheesy and American as feel good movies can be, but this Oscar winning film has heart and gets better every time I see it. Which happens to be about 2 and half times since June last year as it’s on TV all the time. If you miss it on Monday, it will no doubt be on again a week later. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be the best film on TV that day!

Tuesday 5th March – Enter The Dragon, ITV4 at 22.00

I love Jean-Claude Van Damme. I love the fighting tournament films he’s made. But seriously, they would not be in existence if not for this undeniable classic Kung-Fu film starring Bruce Lee at the absolute pinnacle of his career. From the title, to the fight sequences, all the way through to the funky soundtrack, Enter The Dragon is about as cool as movies can get.

Wednesday 6th March – Romulus and the Sabines, Movies4men at 17.20

It’s not often we recommend a movie from the freeview channel Movies4men, and whilst probably not technically the best film on TV (The Truman Show and City of the Living Dead are also on TV on Wednesday) there is something quite charming about it. It’s an Italian film starring Roger Moore that I wouldn’t have seen if not for our Bond special podcast. If you have even just a passing interest in sword and sandal films, give it a try. I won’t promise that you won’t be disappointed, but it’s something a bit different, isn’t it!

Thursday 7th March – In Bruges, Channel 4 at 23.25

(Review courtesy of Gerry McAuley) – In Bruges sticks in the memory for being such a surprise. Let’s be honest, you don’t expect films with everyone’s favourite sex addict Colin Farrell as a main star to be very good. In actuality he is brilliant in this, bringing his character to life quite wonderfully. Add in the excellence of Gleeson and Fiennes and you have a genuinely hilarious film, with some brilliant dialogue, a decent story and that intangible quality always strived for but all-too-rarely achieved – that these people are a bit like me and therefore this is far more interesting than it otherwise might’ve been. I’m also willing to bet that if you’ve seen this before, the wry grin on your face at the memory of it is likely to make you realise that In Bruges merits a re-watch or three.

Friday 8th March – Kull the Conqueror, ITV4 at 23.35

Kevin Sorbo as a barbarian warrior king. Is that not just exactly the kind of film you expect to be on ITV4 at half past 11 on a Friday evening or what? I can’t really proclaim it as the best film on TV as I’ve never had the pleasure of watching it. What you can do is watch this safe in the knowledge that Steve (our illustrious podcast host) will also have to watch this eventually as he embarks on his challenge to plough through the films on Wikipedia’s list of box office bombs. Good luck with that, Steve.

Saturday 9th March – Ginger Snaps, Horror Channel at 00.40

My initial plan here was to pick the more broadly appealing Tarantino film Kill Bill Volume 1 as the best film on TV on Saturday. That’s now whatyou want though, is it? You can watch Kill Bill any other day of the week as it’s on practically all the time. What you need is to stay up really late and watch this very turn-of-the-century, end-of-the-90s, low-budget, teen-horror, coming-of-age, b-movie werewolf film.

Sunday 10th March – The Wizard of Oz, Film4 at 17.00

There are a shed load of good films on TV on Sunday, but with Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great & The Powerful coming out this Friday, maybe it’s time to revisit the original and surprisingly dark classic. The 1939 musical adventure film is also on the IMDb top 250 chart so if there’s no other reason to watch it, then treat it as a box ticking exercise. Cross that one off the list and set yourself up for the first big post-Oscars blockbuster all in one go.

For helpful reminders of when each film is on during the week, follow our Twitter account @FailedCritics

Best Films on TV. Week commencing 11th February 2013.

Our #bestfilmsontv list for this week is chosen by our esteemed leader James Diamond. Again. He’s a bit of a control freak. Follow @failedcritics for daily reminders. 

300 This is SpartaMonday 10th February – Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Film 4 at 11.10pm)

I know it’s a little risky (slash unprofessional) picking a film that I haven’t seen, but this methodical Turkish crime thriller comes very highly recommended, and was included in the Sight & Sound Top Ten of 2012. So it must be pretty decent.

Tuesday 11th February – Die Hard (Film 4 at 9pm)

Luckily I’ve no such problems of reaching around in the dark for today’s choice. I’m currently writing this blog while stewing over the news that Die Hard 5 (can we all stop with the ridiculous A Good Day to Die Hard nonsense please?) has been cut by the studio to get a 12a certificate in the UK; despite the fact that our American cousins get the full R-rated shebang. They also get Obama as their president, and breakfast buffet bars in strip-clubs. It’s so unfair! Anyway, watch this and remember when people used to make adult films and didn’t try to market them to 12-year-olds

Wednesday 13th February – The Book of Eli (5* at 9pm)

I have trawled every free-to-air channel for a film to recommend on Wednesday, and for the second time this week I’ve had to resort to a film I’ve still not seen (it’s in a pile of blu-rays I heartlessly snatched for a pittance in a closing down Blockbusters). In a post-apocalyptic future, Denzel Washington travels across a scorched earth protecting a book from falling into the hands of a psychotic Gary Oldman (presumably in Leon-esque overdrive).

Thursday 14th February – Brief Encounter (Film 4 at 3.25pm)

There’s no other choice for Valentine’s Day than David Lean’s wonderful film (from a Noel Coward screenplay) about love, duty, and old-fashioned values. In the same way that It’s a Wonderful Life is the definitive Christmas film despite it’s very dark moments; Brief Encounter is a classic romantic story, without much in the way of sex, kissing, or even holding hands. It’s the story of a doomed and rather mundane not-quite-affair, and it’s really rather heart-breaking.

Friday 15th February – The Last Boy Scout (ITV1 at 10.35pm)

Speaking of It’s a Wonderful Life, you can catch it today at 2.50pm on Film 4 if you’re the type of weirdo who watches Christmas films in February. Otherwise, why not save your pocket money this week and forego the latest sham of a Die Hard film, and watch Bruce Willis as God truly intended. The Last Boy Scout is Tony Scott at his best, and features possibly the only Willis movie cop better than John McClane. Add a script penned by Shane Black and you have genuine (say it like an American, GEN-YOU-WINE) popcorn-eating, eyes-glued-to-the-screen classic.

Saturday 16th February – 300 (TCM at 9pm)

As long as Zak Snyder lives, he will never make a film as unashamedly spectacular, homoerotic, and brilliant as 300. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel about the Spartans’ heroic stand against Xerxes fortress, it is the film that launched countless memes and resulted in me shouting “Tonight we dine in hell!” at my daughter on more than one occasion. Gerard Butler should just play King Leonidis in every paint-by-numbers rom-com he does in future.

Sunday 17th February – True Lies (Channel 4 at 10.55pm)

The last decent film that James Cameron made was nearly 20 years ago, but what a film. Arnie plays the mild-mannered computer salesman (in as close a performance as Arnold gets to acting), who has to juggle tracking down terrorists who’ve stolen nuclear weapons, while trying to frighten his wife into not having an affair. Explosions and hilarity ensue. True Lies is, and I say this without a hint of sarcasm, as close as James Cameron gets to Alfred Hitchcock.

Best Films on TV. Week commencing 4th February 2013.

We’re trying to add a little order and class to the proceedings, so from this week we’ll be publishing our popular (but erratic) #bestfilmonTV recommendations from Twitter in advance. This week’s choices are from our esteemed leader,  James Diamond.

kiss kiss bang bangMonday 4th February – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, ITV2 at 23.00

Shane Black doesn’t write boring films. Sod it, he doesn’t even write bad films. The man who wrote Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout, and The Last Action Hero finally stepped behind the lens to direct this 2005 LA noir-thriller starring Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer (in a role that I chose as one of my Top 3 Val Kilmer performances in this podcast). It’s very funny and self-referential, but unlike recent attempts at this kind of film *cough* Seven Psychopaths *cough*, it has a gripping and clever plot with some great action set-pieces.

Tuesday 5th February – The Silence of the Lambs, ITV4 at 22.00

The pendulum seems to have swung back against this film, and it’s gone from being a celebrated thriller that won the ‘Big Five’ at the Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay) to being seen by many of my contemporaries as slightly dated and paint-by-numbers. I still disagree, and it’s my favourite from an over-saturated genre of procedural films involving the police hunting serial killers. Anthony Hopkins walks a fine line between the sinister and the theatrical, while Jodie Foster has never been better.

Wednesday 6th February – Tyrannosaur, Film 4 at 22.50

Simply put, one of the finest films (British or otherwise) of the last ten years. Paddy Considine’s directorial debut stars the wonderful Olivia Coleman as the charity shop worker who offers redemption to Peter Mullan’s self-destructive Joseph. Uncomfortable and essential viewing.

Thursday 7th February – Dreams of a Life, Channel 4 at 22.00

The winner of our coveted ‘Best Documentary of 2012’ Failed Critics Award, Carol Morely’s documentary about Joyce Vincent (who died alone in her flat and lay undiscovered for three years) is as much an exploration of the break-up of society as it is an investigation of the facts, in this compelling and disturbing case.

Friday 8th February – The Birds, ITV1 at 22.35

Today sees the release of Hitchcock (review to follow later this week), so what better time to watch the Master of Suspense at the peak of his powers? Tippi Hedren stars as the out-of-towner trapped in a seaside town, terrorised by psychotic feathery beasts.

Saturday 9th February – The Fly, Film 4 at 00.40

Whatever happened to Jeff Goldblum? That may be a spoiler for my choices in this week’s podcast (Top 3 Film Comebacks We Want to See), but if you watch David Cronenberg’s sci-fi classic you’ll be reminded of how great a screen presence Goldblum is. I just hope he’s signing up for Jurassic Park 4…

Sunday 10th February – The BAFTAs, BBC1 at 21.00

I know it’s not technically a film, but there will be plenty of great film clips on offer during the programme. Stephen Fry will do his impression of a classier Jonathan Ross, and the great of good of the film world on both sides of the Atlantic will join together to mutually back-slap each other and pretend this means something even close to the Oscars.

For helpful reminders of when each film is on during the week, follow our Twitter account @FailedCritics