Tag Archives: The Outlaw Josey Wales

Best Films on TV: 24 – 30 June 2013

Site editor James Diamond presents his picks for the best films on terrestrial television this week in increasingly inaccurately titled blog.

300 This is SpartaMonday 24th June – 300 (ITV2, 9pm)

If, like me, you were disappointed by Man of Steel and Zack Snyder’s by-numbers impressions of Christopher Nolan and Terence Malick, then sit back and watch the film that really announced him as an exciting director to watch. Viscerally violent and almost comically homoerotic in equal measure, it’s also fun to spot the now-very-recognisable actors on display here including a young Magneto, a brunette Cersei Lannister, and a particularly shifty McNulty.

Tuesday 25th June – The Outlaw Josey Wales (5USA, 11pm)

Clint Eastwood’s second Western as a director (after 1973’s High Plains Drifter) and although he was clearly still learning the craft at the time, this film owes more than a passing resemblance to Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name trilogy. Set before and during the American Civil War, Eastwood also stars as the farmer who joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and pledges to take revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his family.

Wednesday 26th June – The Rock (BBC3, 10pm)

BBC3 continue their screenings of one of the most impressive purple patches in cinematic history, known by historians as the ‘Cage Action Era’. This week it’s The Rock, starring everyone’s favourite bonkers anti-hero, alongside a suitably grumpy and charismatic Sean Connery. For tenuous and barely explained reasons, Ed Harris is the army general who has gone rogue and is holed up in Alcatraz threatening to release chemical weapons across the western seaboard. A stark reminder that Michael Bay used to make quite fun films.

Thursday 27th June – The Blair Witch Project (Horror Channel, 9pm)

For all my usual aversion to the found footage genre, I actually really enjoyed this film on release, and it’s staggering to think of the hype surrounding a film made for less than $10k back at the end of the nineties. Obviously the success of the film lead to over a decade of mostly poor and badly made imitators, but for a few brief moments a horror film shocked the mainstream cinema-going public and moved the goalposts in favour of young film-makers with tiny budgets.

Friday 28th June – The Talented Mr Ripley (More4, 9pm)

I’m sure everyone will have already seen The Running Man (Film4, 11.20pm) and Starship Troopers (BBC1, 11.25pm) more times that I’ve said I don’t get ‘found footage’ films on the Failed Critics podcast. So I am going to recommend this thriller from the late Anthony Minghella, starring Jude Law and Matt Damon. Damon plays the titular Mr Ripley, an underachiever who blags a job to retrieve a millionaire’s son (Law) from his Italian sojourn in the 1950s. The fantastic central performances are matched only by the beauty of the Italian locations, and Minghella’s change in tone midway through the film just about holds together. An art-house ‘guilty pleasure’ in many respects.

Saturday 29th June – Stardust (Film4, 1pm)

This Matthew Vaughn adaptation of a Neil Gaiman book is about as close as this generation has got to its version The Princess Bride. A classic tale of a simple young man drawn into a fantasy world in the 1800s when he retrieves a fallen star, only to discover the star is a young woman (Claire Danes) being pursued by three witches (led by Michelle Pfieffer). Rober DeNiro steals the show as a crossing-dressing pirate, while even Ricky Gervais manages not to grate too much during his cameo.

Sunday 30th June – Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Film4, 11am)

I recently lauded this as my one of my two favourite Stanley Kubrick films on Failed Critics Podcast (along with A Clockwork Orange) and every viewing always seems to make me love it more. Despite Kubrick’s reputation for cold and harsh direction of his actors, he famously said that directing Peter Sellers in this was easy, as all he had to was make sure he always had at least three cameras pointed at him. A fine example of how satire and comedy can sometimes be the most frightening way to confront our worst fears.

Also on television on a brilliant day for film is Groundhog Day (5*, 2.15pm), Fantastic Mr Fox (Channel 4, 4.55pm), and Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (Sky One, 8pm).

Best films on TV: 13 – 19 May

sunshineThe best film on free-to-air television every day this week, as chosen by genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, podcaster (only one of those is true) Owen Hughes
Monday 13th May – The Outlaw Josey Wales (Channel 5, 11pm)
Not at all like the spaghetti westerns that made Clint so famous, The Outlaw Josey Wales is more of a subtle study of one man as he goes through the grieving process. But don’t worry! There’s still guns, cowboys, Indians and wise-cracks. Eastwood is as cool as ever, if playing a deeper, more human/less cartoonish character than The Man With No Name.
Tuesday 14th May – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Film4, 6.40pm)
Without doubt, the weirdest Star Trek film I’ve seen to date. Directed by Leonard Nimoy (Spok) in true hippy fashion, the crew of the USS Enterprise have to travel back in time to 1980’s Earth to find some humpback whales. A species which have been hunted to extinction in the future. They need the whales to talk to a giant inanimate carbon rod flying through space that is trying to communicate with them, but in doing so is inadvertently destroying planet Earth. Yep. That is the plot. It’s weird, all right. I’m basically only recommending it because of how weird it is. And it’s very weird. Weird.
Wednesday 15th May – Face/Off (BBC3, 10pm)
Often described as John Woo’s last great film, starring Nic Cage as a criminal and John Travolta as a cop until they switch faces, it’s probably not my personal favourite Woo film (Hard Target or Hard Boiled? Not sure which) but is still better than pretty much ever other film on TV on Wednesday. Full of Woo’s ridiculous over-the-top trademarks, complete with doves, slow-mo action scenes and firing two pistols at the same time, it’s a truly great action movie.
Thursday 16th May – The Fighter (Film4, 9pm)
Not one I’ve had the pleasure of watching myself just yet, but I know it’s a podcast favourite so would be hounded out of the team if I didn’t mention it. The Fighter, featuring Oscar winning performances from Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, as well as what I’m led to believe is one of Mark Wahlberg’s finest performances to date, tells the true story of struggling boxer Micky Ward. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.
Friday 17th May – Beyond Re-Animator (horror channel, 9pm)
Ah, as if I could go a whole week without recommending a horror film. What better than this classic cult b-movie horror? Jeffrey Combs is once again tampering with sciences he shouldn’t in this 3rd installment of the Re-Animator franchise. This time he’s behind bars, and injecting his bright green serum into the cold corpses of inmates using his dubious science. It may not be as good as the original Re-Animator film, but the sheer over-the-top special effects and plot make it worth a watch.
Saturday 18th May – Sunshine (More4, 9pm)
Uh oh, it’s that time of year again. The Eurovision Song Contest. It’s on all night on BBC1. Unfortunately, this means there’ll be nothing good on any other channel as nobody tries to compete for ratings. Fortunately, they decide to show Van Damme films under the illusion they won’t win ratings (Cyborg, Sky1; Derailed, SyFy etc) the fools! However, it also means other films get some air time elsewhere and with plenty to choose from on Saturday, my pick is Danny Boyle’s science fiction belter that is Sunshine, featuring James’ good mate, his old buddy old pal, Benedict Wong.
Sunday 19th May – Shinjuku Incident (Film4, 10.55pm)
Bountiful choice again for what films to watch on Sunday, but my pick is Jackie Chan’s first attempt at playing a more serious and dramatic character back in 2009, after he’d decided he wanted to be an acTOR rather than the comedic kung-fu star he was known as. As an illegal Chinese immigrant in Japan looking for his lost girlfriend, he ends up getting more and more involved in underworld crime. It’s debatable whether you think he manages to pull off this transition from goof-to-great, but at the heart of the film is still an interesting story held together with a well written and developed central character.