Free films on TV 19/6/21 to 25/6/21

FILM OF THE WEEK

An Impossible Love (2018), directed by Catherine Corsini, is an excellent French film that you probably won’t have seen: it seems to have had a very limited release. A shy Catholic-Jewish woman in late 1950s provincial France, firmly on the shelf at 26, falls for a sexy, intellectual young man from a bonne famille. They have an idyllic affair and she gets pregnant. He runs back to Paris and will not acknowledge his daughter. So Rachel, still horribly in love, has to bring up Chantal alone.

It’s a conventional setup, beautifully done, that leads into a long and brilliantly observed saga of sexual need, injustice, class conflict, mother-love, loneliness and stoicism. In the background, we see the quiet transformation France underwent while noisier folk were banging on about Chairman Mao. 

Virginie Efira (Rachel) is exquisite, Niels Schneider (Philippe) is dangerously charming, and the four actresses who play Chantal throughout her life are all perfect. There’s a lovely Nymanesque piano/orchestra score by Grégoire Corsini, too. It’s showing tomorrow night (19/6) at 22:00 on BBC4 and, I would expect, on iPlayer. 

World Cinema

Tomorrow night (19/6) at 23:10, Horror Channel has Hostile (2017). Odd French post-apocalyptic horror, with Brittany Ashworth fending off a dangerous mutant, and flashing back to her yuppie New York days, spent with Grégory Fitoussi, best known as the only fanciable lawyer in the TV series Spiral.   

On Sunday (20/6) at 21:00, 5 Select has The Leisure Seeker (2017). Italian Paulo Virzi directed this uneasy road movie, with Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren taking one last trip in the RV before his Alzheimer’s and her cancer see them off.  

On Monday (21/6) at 00:00, BBC2 has Amundsen (2019), a Norwegian biopic of the hard Scandinavian who beat Captain Scott and Cheltonian Edward Wilson to the South Pole. At 01:10, Film4 has 120 Beats Per Minute (2017). Realistic gay history, with Act-Up activists in Paris battling Big Pharma and the Government by day and gyrating wildly by night. Interesting story, rather drearily told. 

On Tuesday (22/6) at 02:40, Channel 4 has Girl (2018). A 15-year old dancer, born male, moves from conservative Francophone Belgium to a Flemish-language ballet school, where people are more sympathetic to her ambition to have surgery and become a ballerina. A nuanced, tightrope-walking first feature from Dutchman Lukas Dhont, controversial with trans extremists because he cast a cisgender (look it up) boy as the lead. 

On Wednesday (23/6) at 02:00, Channel 4 has Cocoon (2020). Not the cuddly Ron Howard fantasy about OAPs and friendly aliens, but a realistic drama about a girl coming of age and coming out in Berlin’s multi-cultural Kreuzberg district.

Stephen’s picks

Tomorrow afternoon (19/6) at 15:35, Talking Pictures shows Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). A political hot potato in its day. Darryl Zanuck and Elia Kazan (who were gentiles) cast Gregory Peck as a journalist posing as a Jew to investigate anti-semitism in upmarket New York and New England. They managed to upset both Hollywood’s Jewish establishment and the red-baiting House Un-American Activities Committee. Peck and Kazan didn’t get on, but the film was a surprise hit (also Tuesday 11:40). 

On Sunday (20/6) at 23:15, Film4 has My Beautiful Laundrette (1985). Directed by Stephen Frears and written by Hanif Kureishi, it swirls together race hatred, gay sexuality and rampant capitalism in a high-speed cycle that startled Thatcher’s London.

On Monday (21/6) at 00:00, BBC4 has This Was My Dad: The Rise & Fall of Geoffrey Matthews (2017). Dad was the British maverick who did the external design of the wonderful Citroēn AX, BX, CX (II) and XM cars. This extraordinarily intimate Storyville film, by documentarist Morgan Matthews, charts the sad decline and fall of Geoff and his eccentric partner Anna. 

On Thursday (24/6) at 22:10, BBC4 has Blazing Saddles (1974). Classically fearless Western comedy from Mel Brooks. 

Other modern films of interest

At 01:30 tomorrow morning (19/6), Sky Arts has The Godfathers of Hardcore (2017). Roger Miret, Vinnie Stigma and their band Agnostic Front. No, me neither. 

At Monday (21/6) at 18:45, Film4 brings us Bumblebee (2018). The Autobots are on the verge of losing to the Decepticons, so Optimus Prime sends a young scout (Hailee Steinfeld) to the rescue. Heart-warming sci-fi, with The Smiths on the soundtrack. For children and inner children everywhere. 

On Tuesday (22/6) at 22:00, BBC4 has You’re the Man Now. This is episode one of an eight-part documentary series called Philly DA: Breaking the Law, about a new district attorney’s attempt to reform Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. (Also Thursday 23:40.) At 23:00, we get episode two, which is called Damaged Goods (also Friday 00:40). 

On Thursday (24/6) at 01:55, Film4 is giving us another chance to see Anomalisa (2015), the stop-motion comedy-drama-romance from Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. Absurd, disturbing and strangely affecting. Search our website (cheltenhamfilmsociety.com) to see what I said about it last time it showed. 

On Friday (25/6) at 22:30, Sky Arts has Bad Reputation (2018), a biographical documentary about Joan Jett, raucous singer-guitarist with pioneering all-girl punk ensemble The Runaways. 

Oldies

Tomorrow (19/6) at 18:40, Horror Channel has The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). The classic fantasy adventure based around the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen. Includes the famous cobra-woman, the cyclops v dragon battle and the sword-fighting skeleton. Brilliant score by Bernard Herrmann.  (Also Sunday 08:00.) At 21:15, Talking Pictures has Five Fingers (1952). James Mason plays the valet to the British ambassador in Ankara, who turns to selling secrets to the Nazis. Based on a true story. 

On Friday (25/6) at 13:10, Film4 has Waterloo Road (1945). World War II drama with John Mills playing a called-up railwayman who goes AWOL after he hears that his wife has taken up with a South London spiv (Stewart Granger). 

John Morrish and Stephen Ilott