Recommended films on TV


A model Swedish family go on a week’s skiing holiday in the Alps. One day they are sitting eating lunch on the balcony of a typical mountain restaurant when an avalanche – controlled, but perhaps not as controlled as it might be  – starts bearing down on them. Mother Ebba puts her arms round the children to protect them. Their father, Tomas, makes a very different decision, one that will potentially have disastrous effects on their marriage. That’s the simple set-up of Force Majeure (2014), directed by Ruben Östlund, but it leads to a searching and gently comical examination of the nature of courage, masculinity and relationships. The film won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes in 2014. It was also remade in the US as Downhill, starring Will Ferrell, to less than stellar reviews. Force Majeure is on Film4 on Monday (12/10) at 01:40.

World Cinema

Still in World Cinema, Film4 has Park Chan-wook’s English-language debut, Stoker (2013). A psychological thriller starring Mia Wasikowska, Dermot Mulroney and Nicole Kidman, it tells of mysterious relative who arrives in a remote house to manipulate an unstable widow and her daughter. Creepy stuff. That’s on Saturday (10/10) on Film4 at 01:20. Later the same day, at 18:05, Sony Action has The Birdcatcher (2018), a Norway/UK production about a Jewish girl hiding her identity as a boy on a Norwegian/Nazi farm during World War II while she plots an escape to Sweden.

On Sunday (11/10) at 01:20, Film4 has Thelma (2017), a fantasy-horror about a religious girl who discovers her psychokinetic powers with disastrous results. Later that day, at 22:30, and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC4 has The Guardians (2017), a rather gentle French drama about the women who stay at home looking after the farms while the men of the village are away fighting in World War I. This one narrowly missed being selected for CFS in 2018.

On Wednesday (14/10) at 01:10, Film4 has Call Girl (2012), a Swedish film inspired by a genuine scandal in which top politicians were linked with prostitutes, some of them under age. Later, at 02:10, Channel 4 has the latest in its Indian season, an interesting thriller called Raazi (2018). Based on a true story, it tells of a young Indian woman who marries into a Pakistani military family in order to spy for her own country.

CFS showed Sweet Country last year. If anyone hasn’t seen this excellent Australian outback story, they should tune in to Film4 on Thursday (15/10) at 21:00.

On Friday (16/10), Film4 is showing The Book Thief (2013) at 18:25. From the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak, this tells the story of a young girl living in Germany as the Nazi regime takes over. Narrated by Geoffrey Rush as Death.

Stephen Ilott’s picks

On Saturday (10/10), Stephen has picked Martin Scorsese’s peerless Raging Bull (1980). The greatest of all boxing movies, but much more than that. It’s on ITV at 23:00. On Sunday (11/10) on Horror Channel at 17:40, he has picked Frankenstein (1931), with Boris Karloff as the monster. Then on Monday (12/10) at 23:05, and Wednesday (14/10) at 21:00, he has picked Starship Troopers (1997) on ITV4. In a militaristic future world, young people join the army, only to find themselves battling against a race of alien superbugs. On Wednesday (14/10) at 09:10 on Sony Action, he has picked The Swimmer (1968), in which Burt Lancaster crosses his home valley from swimming pool to swimming pool, experiencing numerous interactions along the way. Finally, on Thursday (15/10) at 23:05 on Sony Action, he has chosen Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968), the Swinging Sixties comedy-drama with Barry Evans and Judy Geeson.

Modern films of note

On Saturday (10/10) at 13:15, BBC2 has Queen of Katwe (2016), Mira Nair’s feature about a young girl from the slums of Kampala who becomes a top chess player. With Madina Nalwanga and David Oyelowo. This film will not be on iPlayer. At 16:00 the same day, Sky Arts has Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019), a documentary about the novelist, who died six weeks after the film was completed. Then, at 23:20, 5 Star has Erin Brockovich (2000) as the battling environmental campaigner from the wrong side of the tracks. That is repeated on Friday at 00:30.

On Sunday (11/10) at 23:00, and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC2 has A United Kingdom (2016), about the marriage between King Seretse Khama of Botswana and a white woman, Ruth Williams. It stars David Oyelowo (again) and Rosamund Pike.

On Friday (16/10) at 22:00, Sky Arts has White Riot (2019), an acclaimed documentary about Rock Against Racism, the 1970s movement that harnessed the energy of punk rock and reggae against neo-Nazism on the streets of Britain.


On Saturday (10/10) at 16:00, Paramount has The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), directed by John Ford with starring roles for John Wayne and James Stewart. At 21:40, Dave is showing Pulp Fiction.

On Sunday (11/10) at 14:00, and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC2 has Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo (1959), with John Wayne and Dean Martin. At 19:05, Horror Channel has The Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney Jr in the title role.

On Monday (12/10) at 14:50, Film4 has Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), a noir  thriller with Burt Lancaster and Barbara Stanwyck. That’s repeated on Friday at 11:00.

On Wednesday (14/10) at 21:00 BBC4 is showing Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party (1977) with Alison Steadman as gruesome Beverly.

On Thursday (15/10) at 07:50, Talking Pictures has Tawny Pipit (1944), a gentle comedy about birdwatching, shot in Lower Slaughter and Eastleach. At 14:40, Film4 is showing Tiger Bay (1959), with John and Hayley Mills.

Finally, on Friday (16/10), Film4 has My Name is Joe (1998), a gritty Ken Loach drama set in Glasgow and starring Peter Mullan, at 01:30, followed the same day at 14:30 by Angel and the Badman (1947), a Western with wicked John Wayne pursued by a good-hearted Quaker girl. That is also on Paramount at 13:50.

Stephen Ilott and John Morrish