Recommended films on TV


When Bait (2019) was released, it was an immediate sensation. Not so much for its story, which is a conventional account of friction between the inhabitants of a Cornish fishing village and wealthy weekenders, as for its technical innovations. Director Mark Jenkin shot the film on a clockwork camera using short lengths of monochrome film, which he then hand-processed in his own studio. Dialogue and sound effects were all post-dubbed, which provides another level of disorientation. The result is something that appears both avant-garde and strangely antique, bridging the gap between today’s art cinema and the earliest experiments with the moving picture.

Bait is shown on Thursday (17/9) on Film4 at 23:20 and it seems likely to be streamed on All4. Or, if you are a member, you may wish to wait a few days and see it on the big screen with no adverts. We have chosen it as the opening film in our new season, which we are temporarily holding at the Cheltenham Playhouse. That’s on September 22 at 17:30 and 20:15. There will be no additional charge for the film because we are using it to test our new social-distancing procedures.

Turning to World Cinema, BBC2 has Hirokazu Kore-eda’s excellent After the Storm (2016). A private detective with a gambling problem is estranged from his ex-wife and his family, especially the young son whose child support he cannot pay. Then extreme weather throws everyone together. This is the only recent Kore-eda films CFS has not shown, but brilliant nonetheless. That’s on Sunday (13/9) at 00:35 and then on iPlayer. Then at 09:45 on Sunday (13/9), Sony Action has Bandidos (1967), a little-known spaghetti Western with a revenge plot and a high level of gore. Finally for that day, at 23:55 Channel 4 has Gully Boy (2019), the second in its nine-film Indian season. A poet emerges from the slums and inadvertently enters Mumbai’s underground hip-hop scene.

On Monday (14/9) at 06:00, Sony Action returns to the spaghetti Western with Santana Kills Them All (1970), a kind of buddy-movie about a pair of desperadoes roaming the West looking for loot and killing and wise-cracking along the way. One for fans of the genre.

On Tuesday (15/9) at 01:25, Channel 4 has Kuttumaram (2018), “a tender film emerging from India’s queer cinema”, about a young woman who survives the Tsunami and then forms a relationship with a photographer who comes to teach at her local school.

On Thursday (17/9), Film4 has Fill the Void (2013), which CFS showed in 2014/15. In Israel’s ultra-orthodox Hasidic community, an 18-year-old girl is pressured to marry the widower of her elder sister, who has died in childhood. An insightful and compassionate film. That’s at 01:35. The same night, at 01:50, Channel 4 has Adore (2013), directed by Anne Fontaine, who brought us The Innocents, which we showed in 2017/18. From a Doris Lessing novel, it tells the story of two women (played by Naomi Watts and Robin Wright) who fall for each other’s sons.

Apart from Bait, Stephen Ilott has selected four films this week. On BBC2 on Saturday (12/9) at 11:00 and then on iPlayer, there is Powell & Pressburger’s The Red Shoes, with Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook and Marius Goring in a timeless tale of a young dancer’s pursuit of her dream. On 5 Select on Sunday (13/9) at 23:05 there is the chilling 10 Rillington Place, with great performances from Richard Attenborough as the colourless serial killer John Christie and John Hurt as his patsy Timothy Evans. On Tuesday (15/9), Stephen picks Maiden (2018), a documentary account of Tracy Edwards, who skippered the first all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World yacht race. That is part of the Storyville strand on BBC4 at 01:00 and subsequently on iPlayer.

Other notable films this week include Christopher Nolan’s tricksy Memento (2000), on BBC2 on Saturday (12/9) at 21:45 and subsequently on iPlayer; another showing for Clint’s Hacksaw Ridge (2016), this time on ITV the same night at 22:45; and then on Sunday, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2013), starring Scarlett Johansson as a beautiful alien who picks up men and eats them. That’s on Film4 at 00:55.

And now the Oldies. On Sunday (13/9) at 13:40, Talking Pictures has Men in War (1957), Anthony Mann’s dark Korean War drama. At 14:30, Film4 has the first Back to the Future (1985). At 16:20 and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC2 has Casablanca (1942), while at 17:55 E4 has Home Alone (1990). To round off Sunday, at 22:55 Film4 has the scabrous Trainspotting (1996), directed by Danny Boyle from the Irvine Welsh novel.

The same year brought us Brassed Off, which couldn’t be more different. A cheerful musical rom-com, set against the backdrop of pit closures, it is on Film4 on Monday (14/9) at 23:30.

On Tuesday (15/9), The Enemy Below (1957) surfaces. A WWII submarine v destroyer drama, it is on Film4 at 16:35. At 18:50 the same day, Talking Pictures has Sudden Fear (1952), a Joan Crawford noir thriller with Jack Pallance as the villain.

On Wednesday (16/9), Talking Pictures is showing Tender Mercies (1983), a country-music drama directed by the Australian Bruce Beresford. That’s at 22:00. At exactly the same time, BBC4 is showing The Evacuees (1974) as a tribute to Alan Parker, whose first feature it was. That will not be available on iPlayer.

John Ford’s coal-mining classic How Green Was My Valley (1941) is on Film4 on Thursday (17/9) at 13:40. Later the same day, at 23:40, ITV4 has Scarface (1983), starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer and directed by Brian De Palma from an Oliver Stone script.

On Friday (18/9) at 01:05, Film4 has The Garden (1990), one of Derek Jarman’s near-wordless exercises, with Tilda Swinton. And at 13:05 the same day, Film4 has The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), a Preston Sturges rom-com set in WWII. Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) wakes up after a wild farewell party with some soldiers to find she has married someone she can’t remember – and is pregnant. These things happen, and even happened in 1944.

Stephen Ilott and John Morrish