The best films each day on free-to-air TV as chosen by site editor and self-confessed John Hughes obsessive, James Diamond.
Sam Mendes may have hit the commercial and critical jackpot with last year’s Skyfall, but some of his finest work is in portraying the minutiae of family life, and the struggles to save a relationship rather than the world. American Beauty is a modern classic, and Away We Go is an underrated gem of a movie. That’s why I’m recommending Revolutionary Road without having seen it myself. Mendes directing Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as an American couple in the 1950s is all I need to hear.
Tuesday 23rd April – LA Confidential (ITV4, 10pm)
More fantastic period drama from an Oscar-winning writer/director, this time it’s Curtis Hanson (who won the Oscar for this co-written screenplay) and the elegantly brutal L.A Confidential. A noir thriller set in Los Angeles in the decade after the Second World War, it confirmed the status of Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey as Hollywood heavyweights, and proved Kim Bassinger also had something left to give. That’s before even mentioning brilliant performances from Guy Pierce, James Cromwell, and Danny DeVito. Film-making at its best.
Wednesday 24th April – The Naked Gun (Film4, 9pm)
From one end of the movie cop spectrum to the other. While some may argue that Airplane is one of the funniest movies ever, I have always preferred this Zucker/Abrahams franchise, with the brilliant Leslie Neilsen as Frank Drebin. Let’s just hope that recent rumours of a reboot turn out to be false.
Thursday 25th April – Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Film4, 10.45pm)
You may have noticed that if I see a John Hughes movie showing during the week, it invariably gets a spot on my list. This week is no exception, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of his best. The story of Steve Martin and John Candy as a mismatched pair of strangers struggling to get home for Thanksgiving. It doesn’t do anything clever or original with an admittedly derivative premise, but is carried to brilliance by great central performances, and a heavy dollop of John Hughes heart.
Friday 26th April – Rear Window (Film4, 4.45pm)
Despite Vertigo’s place at the top of the most recent Sight and Sound poll, Rear Window is the film I most often hear people pick when talking about their favourite Hitchcock pictures. It certainly has a less creepy performance from James Stewart, backed by a brilliantly simple plot that allows the Master of Suspense to work his magic to perfection. For those of you after a late-night choice, why not catch Withnail & I on Film4 at 12.20am. Though you’d be wise not to start the drinking game at that hour of the day.
Saturday 27th April – Notorious (BBC2, 2.05pm)
Recommending two Hitchcock films on consecutive days is possibly the height of film blogging laziness. I just can’t help it though, especially when you can spend Saturday afternoon watching the great Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in another of Hitch’s perfect films. The fact that it’s on BBC2 means you don’t even have to worry about adverts. Bliss.
Sunday 28th April – Hot Fuzz (ITV2, 9pm)
One of the reasons that we at Failed Critics are so excited about The World’s End this summer is because whenever Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost produce something, its guaranteed to be another slice of fried gold. This 2007 follow-up to Shaun of the Dead is an ambitious buddy cop action film set in Gloucestershire, with touches of Point Break and The Wicker Man thrown in for good measure. The brilliant support cast includes classic British thespians like Edward Woodward and Timothy Dalton, as well as a number of the new guard including Paddy Considine and Olivia Coleman.