Tag Archives: True Lies

Best films on TV: 6th to 12th May

The best film on free-to-air television every day this week, as chosen by site editor and “film snob” (The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, December 2012) James Diamond

High NoonMonday 6th May – High Noon (Film4, 11am)

Not only is George Zimmerman’s western one of the finest examples of a genre with a rich and wonderful history, but Film4 are offering the opportunity to watch it in ‘real’ real-time with an eleven o’clock start that should ensure you’re treated to the fantastic showdown at a titular and quite literal ‘high noon’. Gary Cooper plays the dignified town sheriff leaving town with his new bride (Grace Kelly), until word arrives that a dangerous gang he put away are heading back to exact revenge. Screenwriter Carl Foreman was hounded out of his native United States for producing a film that many saw as an allegory of the McCarthy communist witch hunts, with John Wayne branding the film ‘unAmerican’.

More great Bank Holiday viewing available later on today with the finest Star Trek film of them all (at least until we get a good look at Star Trek Into Darkness later this month) with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on Film4 at 2.35pm.

Tuesday 7th May – Manhunter (ITV4, 10.30pm)

Tonight sees the start of Hannibal on Sky Living at 10pm (the new TV series based on the earlier life of Dr Hannibal Lecter starring my current actor-crush Mads Mikkelsen), and those of you with a *insert generic DVR brand* box can watch that while taping this Michael Mann thriller that first introduced the world to the intelligent and wonderfully charming serial killer and cannibal. Or you can watch it on ITV4+1. Your choice.

Wednesday 8th May – Old School (BBC3, 9pm)

I love everything about this film. Luke Wilson is the lovable loser who is cajoled into forming a fraternity to appeal to the outcasts of the university campus where he lives after leaving his cheating wife (played by the brilliant Juliette Lewis). Vince Vaughan is his best friend in a typical Vaughan performance, just before he started to become really annoying. And Will Ferrell has never been better than as the under-the-thumb husband who unleashes his inner beast when ‘Frank the Tank’ passes into college legend. Great fun.

For those after a little more class, then I’m sure the podcast’s own Gerry McAuley would recommend Pedro Almodovar’s Volver on Film4 at 1.40am. I imagine I’ll be taping it and then steadfastly not getting around to watching it for the next twelve months.

Thursday 9th May – True Lies (Film 4, 9pm)

Quite simply the last great film that either James Cameron or Arnold Schwarzenegger made. Arnie plays Harry Tasker, a secret agent who is so good at pretending to be a mild-mannered and boring salesman that the spark has completely disappeared from his marriage to his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis). In true action movie fashion, he ends up having to save the world and his relationship while taking down a jet fighter with his bare hands.

Friday 10th May – Primer (Film4, 10.50pm)

Even if you’ve seen Shane Caruth’s low-budget time-travel mindfuck before, you could probably do with watching it again to get close to understanding even half of what’s going on with this incredibly complex and clever film. Reportedly the only time-travel film not to contain a single paradox, it is a ballsy science fiction that doesn’t treat its audience as idiots, but possibly makes them feel that way regardless. You’ll need this directly after watching.

Saturday 11th May – The Princess Bride (5*, 3.10pm)

When you become a parent, you start planning all the films you’re going to brainwash your children with on rainy weekend afternoons, and The Princess Bride is one of those films for me. With a very knowing performance by Peter Falk as Fred Savage’s granddad reading him the story of The Princess Bride, this film is both a celebration and parody of the adventure stories of our youth. It’s incredibly funny and quotable, with brilliant themes of true love and revenge. A truly wonderful film.

Sunday 12th May – Layer Cake (Film 4, 9pm)

It’s less than 10 years since the release of a this relatively low-budget British gangster thriller, and little did we know then that its star and director would go on to become two of Britian’s biggest exports to Hollywood. Daniel Craig had already won rave reviews in Our Friends in the North, though this was the role that gave us a glimpse of the gritty action star who would become James Bond. But it’s the rise of Matthew Vaughn that is more impressive. Starting out as Guy Ritchie’s producer on Lock Stock and Snatch, he stepped out of Mr Madonna’s shadow with this movie and never looked back, going on to become on of the most successful British directors of recent times with Stardust, Kick-Ass, and X-Men: First Class.

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.

Failed Critics Podcast: COP – Arnie

Arnold Schwarzenegger CigarOn this week’s podcast we review Zero Dark Thirty, Flight, Hyde Park on Hudson, and The Possession  We also induct the second member of our Corridor of Praise. Let’s hand over to Gerry to introduce him…

Murzzuschlag, Austria. The Second World War is ending. Aurelia Jadrny, a clerk in her early twenties whose husband was killed just eight months after their wedding, is working at her desk when she spots a tall, good looking man in his late thirties walking past. He’s wearing the uniform of the gendarmerie, Austria’s rural police, and she likes a man in uniform. Over time, they talk through the window – she works out when his shift is so she’s always at her desk. His name is Gustav and when they marry late in 1945 he is thirty eight, she is twenty three. He is assigned to Thal, a tiny village, and they live in a simple stone house at the top of a hill, 100 yards from a ruined old castle, on the single unpaved road in the village. There is no plumbing, no shower, no flushing toilet, and the nearest well is a quarter of a mile away. They make do, scraping by on his meagre wage through hard work and thrift – an ethic they will instil in their children.

They quickly have a son, Meinhard, and struggle along despite the widespread famine in newly-occupied Austria. In 1947, with the famine ongoing and at its worst, they have another son. In this small, impoverished stone house in rural Austria, one of the 20th Century’s greatest stars has just been born. Gustav and Aurelia name him Arnold, and their big, broad genetics and hard working nature will combine to make Arnold Schwarzenegger one of the most influential men in modern American culture.

Both boys are encouraged by their father to frequently take part in sport, particularly football. As the children grow up, they start to do sit ups to earn their breakfast as well as doing a lot of chores. At 15, Arnold decides to take up weightlifting over football, attending a gym in nearby Graz. The dedication his harsh father has drilled into him leads him to break into the gym when it is closed on weekends. At 18, he serves in the army as part of his military service. During basic training, he goes AWOL to take part in the Junior Mr Europe bodybuilding contest – the week he spends in military prison is made worthwhile by him winning the competition. In 1966, he takes a plane for the first time to go to London for the Mr Universe competition. He comes second but a judge spots his potential and invites him to live with his family in London to train him. A year later, age 20 and with a slowly improving grasp of English, Arnold wins the Mr Universe title – the first of three. He moves to Munich and goes to business school, recognising that his Mr Universe titles are the way to achieve his long-held ambition of moving to the US.

In 1968 he moves to LA, training at Gold’s Gym and embarking on the path to being an American legend. He wins the first of seven Mr Olympia titles in 1970, but his brother Meinhard dies in a drink driving accident in 1971 followed by his father a year later. Arnold doesn’t attend his funeral, and by this stage he’s had his first film role in Hercules in New York…