Recommended films on TV


In the winter of 2013-14, devastating floods hit the Somerset Levels, with some 17,000 acres of farmland suddenly under water. The Levelling (2016) is an intense family drama set in the aftermath of that event.

Clover (Ellie Kendrick) is a young veterinary student, called home to the family farm when her younger brother Harry (Joe Blakemore) dies suddenly, apparently by suicide. This forces her to confront her father Aubrey (David Troughton), a man to whom she hasn’t spoken in years, about the future of the farm, its livestock, and the truth about her brother’s death.

Hope Dickson Leach’s debut film, marinated in the grey palette of floodwater and lowering clouds, is the very opposite of a feelgood movie, but it wins out by its honesty, insight and an unflinching rejection of sentimentality. That’s on BBC2 on Saturday at 00:20 and subsequently on iPlayer.

Our World Cinema choices this week include a couple of repeats, both of which we have recommended in recent weeks: the Swedish modern art satire The Square (2017), on Channel 4 on Monday (24/8) at 00:30; and the family anime Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017) on Film4 on Wednesday (26/8) at 12:45. Other than that, you may be interested in Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate (1999), a supernatural thriller set in the world of books. Johnny Depp plays Dean Corso, a dealer asked by a collector to find a rare text about the Devil, thought to be capable of conjuring him up. Co-starring Frank Langella as the collector. That’s on the Horror Channel on Tuesday (25/8) at 21:00. Finally, on Film4 on Friday (28/8) at 01:10, there is Racer and the Jailbird (2017), a kind of gangster Romeo-and-Juliet story set against the backdrop of motor sport. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Gigi, a career criminal, who meets Bibi (Adèle Exarchopolous), an aristocrat and racing driver. It is love at first sight. What could possibly go wrong?

Apart from The Levelling, Stephen Ilott has three picks this week. The melancholy comedy The Punch and Judy Man (1962) is on Talking Pictures on Saturday (22/8) at 13:50. The production was fraught. Not least, it is said that the unhappy star Tony Hancock was terrified of the Punch puppet, and who can blame him? The same day there is Gravity (2013), on BBC1 at 20:35 and subsequently on iPlayer. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are marooned in space. This film was a sensation when it was released in IMAX 3D. It is anyone’s guess how it will fare on TV. Altogether more earthbound is The Witches of Eastwick (1987) with a starry cast of Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon. That’s on Friday (28/8) on BBC1 at 22:50 and subsequently on iPlayer.

Other notable films include A Single Man (2009), the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford. Colin Firth is a gay professor in California, experiencing turmoil in the wake of his partner’s death. That’s on Sony Movies on Saturday (22/8) at 00:20.

On Sunday we have Paddington (2014) on Film4 at 17:15. No dancing Hugh Grant in this one, more’s the pity. On the same day and the same channel we have Legend (2015), not the fantasy film but a biopic of the gruesome Kray Brothers. That’s at 21:00. To conclude Sunday, Channel 4 has The Book Thief (2013), a WWII drama based on the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak. That’s at 22:00.

On Tuesday (25/8) at 00:20, Film4 has Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), a comedy-drama written and directed by, and starring, the multi-talented Miranda July. Later that day, the same channel has The Boxtrolls (2014), an American animated comedy with the voice-over talents of a raft of British actors. That’s at 11:00.

On Wednesday (26/8) at 21:00, More 4 is showing Eye in the Sky, the drone warfare thriller with Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman.

The ingenious horror Get Out (2017), which marked the directorial debut of Jordan Peele and provided a starring role for Britain’s Daniel Kaluuya, is on Film4 on Thursday (27/8) at 21:00.

Turning to the Oldies, Talking Pictures has two notable films on Saturday (22/8). At 00:00 there is Expresso Bongo (1959), the music business satire with Cliff Richard and Laurence Harvey. And then at 15:50 it has Hue and Cry (1946), generally considered the first Ealing Comedy. At 16:10 the same day, ITV4 has The Far Country (1955), a James Stewart western. At 19:50, Talking Pictures shows The Angry Silence (1960), the workplace drama starring Richard Attenborough that was shown on 5 Select last month. Finally, Film4 has Midnight Run (1988) at 23:15, a police buddy movie starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin.

On Sunday (23/8) at 11:50, 5 Select is showing the reliable weepie Kramer vs Kramer (1979), with Hoffman and Streep, while at 15:15 BBC2 has Le Mans (1971), starring Steve McQueen. Subsequently on iPlayer. At 15:20, Talking Pictures is showing Hobson’s Choice (1954) with Charles Laughton, John Mills and a very young Prunella Scales. Finally, at 21:00, 5 Select has Terms of Endearment, the mother-daughter comedy-drama with Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger.

On Monday (24/8) at 21:00, ITV4 has Manhunter (1986), the first Hannibal Lecktor film, with Brian Cox in the lead. Many prefer him to the Anthony Hopkins version.

On Tuesday (25/8), Talking Pictures has The Man Between (1953), a Cold War drama set between the end of the War and the building of the Berlin Wall. That’s at 09:30.

On Wednesday (26/8) at 21:00, Sony Movies has Boyz N the Hood (1991), a coming of age drama set among the gangs of South Central LA.

Girl, Interrupted (1999), with Winona Ryder trapped in a psychiatric hospital, is on Wednesday (26/8) on Sony Movies at 23:10.

Finally for this week, Talking Pictures has I See A Dark Stranger (1946), on Friday (28/8) at 14:30, a thriller with Deborah Kerr, Trevor Howard and Raymond Huntley.

John Morrish and Stephen Ilott