Recommended films on TV


Many of you will have seen Sidse Babett Knudsen as the Danish Prime Minister in Borgen, but you won’t have seen her as she appears in The Duke of Burgundy (2014), a UK-Hungary production directed by Peter Strickland. Babett Knudsen plays Evelyn, a lepidopterist studying under an older woman called Cynthia (Chiarra d’Anna), and the two are embroiled in a sado-masochistic relationship. As time goes on, Evelyn makes more and more sexual demands on Cynthia.

Strickland is a unique British filmmaker, who brought us Berberian Sound Studio in 2012 and, more recently, In Fabric, the story of a haunted red dress. His films have received massive critical acclaim while occasionally baffling and infuriating the public. Watch this stylish and erotic film and see what you think. It’s on Film4 on Sunday (30/8) at 01:05.

Otherwise in World Cinema there is Border (2018), the intriguing modern fairy tale that we showed in February. That’s on Channel Four on Monday (31/8) at 00:55. On Friday (4/9) at 00:35, Film4 is showing Pili (2018), a UK-Tanzania co-production in Swahili. Pili works the fields, bringing up her two children and desperate to hide her HIV-positive status secret. Then a market stall becomes available and she struggles to get the deposit together, with troubling consequences. Finally, Film4 offers another chance to watch the Australian epic Gallipoli (1981). That is shown on Friday (4/9) at 16:40.

Stephen Ilott’s picks this week begin with the unworldly David Bowie as an alien in Nic Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). That’s on Talking Pictures on Saturday (29/8) at 00:00. On the same channel on the same day, at 15:15, he chooses King Creole (1958), a well-liked Elvis movie directed by Michael “Casablanca” Curtiz. On Monday (31/8) at 18:25 on BBC1 he chooses Paddington 2 (2017), one of those sequels that is much better than the original. It features Hugh Grant as an egotistical former actor, an inspired bit of casting. Subsequently on iPlayer. Finally, on Tuesday (1/9) at 11:40, he chooses The Stranger (1946) on Talking Pictures. Directed by, and co-starring, Orson Welles, this is the story of an investigator from the War Crimes Commission on the trail of a Nazi gone to ground in the US. Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young play the other lead roles.

Other notable English-language films this week include Inception (2010) on ITV2 on Saturday (29/8) at 20:00. Presumably this has been scheduled to tie in with the release of its director Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which promises to be even more baffling. The same night, at 20:30, and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC1 is showing Sully (2016), the story of the pilot (played by Tom Hanks) who landed his airliner on the Hudson River. Directed by Clint Eastwood.

On Monday (31/8) at 14:15, and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC2 has It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), a legendary chase caper directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle and Ethel Merman, among many others. At 21:00 the same day, Film4 has Ridley Scott’s The Martian (2015), with Matt Damon stranded on Mars and struggling to survive. Also on Monday, on BBC2 at 22:00 and subsequently on iPlayer, we have Molly’s Game (2017), Aaron Sorkin’s biopic of Molly Bloom (not that one), an Olympic-class skier who became a high-stakes poker player who was investigated by the FBI. A premiere for the BBC.

On Tuesday (1/9) at 01:00, Channel 4 is showing Steven Spielberg’s rousing Lincoln (2012), with Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, and very good too. Then at 21:00, Film4 is showing American Made (2017), with Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, the American pilot who was exposed as a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s, eventually working for Pablo Escobar. An extraordinary true story.

On Friday (4/9) at 00:30 and 02:10, Talking Pictures has two documentaries, What is Cinema? (2013), with a host of notable directors trying to answer the question, and Remembering Sam Kydd, who made 240 films, more than any other British actor.

Turning to the Oldies, Sony Movies has The Natural (1984) at 03:10 on Saturday (1984), with Robert Redford as a magical baseball player. The same day, at 21:00, Paramount is showing The Last of the Mohicans (1992), a second outing for Daniel Day-Lewis this week. Also at 21:00, 5 Star has Cruise, Nicholson and Demi Moore in the courtroom drama A Few Good Men (1992). That’s repeated on Friday (4/9) at 21:00. Finally, at 21:05, ITV1 has GoldenEye (1995), a Pierce Brosnan Bond.

On Monday (31/8) Talking Pictures has the evergreen Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico (1949) at 14:30. Then at 18:35, Sony Movies has Lasse Hallström’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, with Johnny Depp as a young man in a dead-end town struggling to look after his mentally disabled younger brother, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), Powell and Pressburger’s romantic drama starring Roger Livesey and Wendy Hiller, is on Talking Pictures on Tuesday (1/9) at 14:30. At 16:50 the same day, Sony Action has From Here to Eternity (1953) and finally ITV4 has Platoon (1986), Oliver Stone’s Vietnam movie, starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe, at 23:15.

On Wednesday (2/9) at 22:05, Talking Pictures has The Comedy Man (1964), a drama about a down-at-heel actor (Kenneth More) making one last stab at West End success.

On Thursday (3/9) at 01:20, Film4 has Peter Greenaway’s stylish but opaque Drowning By Numbers (1988), with Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson and Joely Richardson as three generations of women with the same name who all want to kill their husbands. Altogether more straightforward fare at 21:00, when ITV4 has Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Finally, on Friday (4/9) at 11:00, Film4 is showing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), with Jane Russell and, of course, Marilyn Monroe.

Enjoy your week’s viewing.

Stephen Ilott and John Morrish