Recommended films on TV


It’s a thin week for films, with the BBC devoting much of its time to reruns of old Wimbledon matches and Glastonbury concerts. From what is available, we would choose Big Eyes (2014) as our film of the week. This is a strange Tim Burton biopic of the artist Margaret Keane, famous for producing those popular pictures of people, and especially children, with exaggeratedly large eyes. Keane (Amy Adams) is a divorcee when she marries Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who soon starts taking credit for her work. For a while she goes along with this deception, which makes the pair wealthy, but soon Margaret grows weary of it and wants credit. The result is a a painful court action. Amy Adams received a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and was nominated for a Bafta. The film is on Film4 on Sunday (28/6) at 17:05.

In the World Cinema category, there is Scribe (2017), a Belgian/French thriller about a man employed to transcribe intercepted calls. It’s an exciting conspiracy film but somewhat derivative of The Conversation, which we showed in 2015/16. Scribe is on Film4 on Monday (29/6) at 01:25. If you are in the mood for a very dark Danish comedy, you might like Men & Chicken (2015), which has its fans. Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen and starring Mads Mikkelsen, it tells the story of two brothers who go back to the remote island where they were brought up to retrieve their father’s body. There they meet three more brothers they never knew, each with some degree of impairment. It is on Film4 on Tuesday (30/6) at 01:45. Some people on IMDb think it’s a masterpiece. Hmm.

Black Mother is a documentary about Jamaica, made by New York photographer Khalik Allah in a vivid, pictorial and somewhat experimental style, concentrating on the hard lives of the island’s women. The film is on Thursday (2/7) at 01:30 on Film4. Borg vs McEnroe (2017) is a dramatisation of the rivalry between the two tennis greats of the 1970s, culminating in the 1980 Wimbledon championship. Made by a Swedish director and screenwriter, the film stars Svener Gudnason as Borg and Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe. It is showing on Friday (3/7) on BBC2 at 23:20 and subsequently on iPlayer.

In the English language, we have three notable films on Talking Pictures. Age of Consent (1968) at 01:45 on Saturday (27/6) is an Australian picture, the final feature directed by Michael Powell, about a grizzled painter (James Mason) who goes off to a remote island to kick-start his failing creativity. There he meets a beautiful young girl, played by Helen Mirren in her first major film role. Later the same day, there is Jigsaw (1961) a murder mystery set in Brighton and directed by the British journeyman Val Guest. An account of painstaking police procedures, it is notable for the appearance of Jack Warner, better known as Dixon of Dock Green. That’s on at 19:00. The third Talking Pictures film of interest is Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). An adaptation by Robert Altman of a notable Broadway play, it stars Sandy Dennis, Karen Black, Kathy Bates and Cher in her first film role. In a small-town Woolworth’s, six fans of the actor reunite after 20 years and share reminiscences and secrets going back 20 years. Altman had previously directed the stage play and insisted on using the same cast. That appears on Saturday (28/6) at 21:05. Then on Wednesday (1/7) at 21:00, BBC2 is showing Marvellous, in which Toby Jones plays a man with learning difficulties who goes on to distinguish himself as a university greeter for new students, a kit man and mascot for Stoke City, a lay preacher and a friend of Prince Andrew. A very touching story originally made for television. Subsequently on iPlayer.

Altogether tougher viewing is God’s Own Country (2017), one of several rural miseralism movies that were produced at around that time. A young farmer is struggling with with his work after his father has a stroke. He hires a Romanian helper and, after initial hostility, a relationship grows between them. That’s showing on Channel Four on Sunday (28/6) at 23:10. On Monday (29/6), Film4 is showing Steve McQueen’s searing drama 12 Years a Slave (2013), with Chiwetel Ejiofor. That’s at 21:00. On Thursday (2/7) at 22:00, Channel 4 is showing the breathtaking drama-documentary Touching the Void (2003), about the climbers Simon Yates and Joe Simpson running into trouble in the Peruvian Andes. BBC1 is showing 3.10 to Yuma (2007) on Friday (3/7) at 22:45 and subsequently on iPlayer. This is the Russell Crowe and Christian Bale version of the Western. The same film is also on on Sony Movies on Sunday (28/6) at 23:50. On Friday at 23:45, 5Star has an interesting science fiction film, Limitless (2011), starring Bradley Cooper and Anna Friel. A struggling writer takes a pill that enables him to become a financial genius by mobilising 100 per cent of his mental powers.

As far as the Oldies go, we have The Sting (1975), on ITV4 on Saturday (27/6) at 13:55 and also Sunday (28/6) at 11:25. Then there’s True Romance (1993), a Tony Scott crime drama from a script by Quentin Tarantino, on Sony Movies on Saturday (27/6) at 23:25; the 1948 Oliver Twist with Robert Newton and Alec Guinness on Talking Pictures on Sunday (28/6) at 18:10; The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) on Film4 on Tuesday (30/6) at 12:50; and the 1950 James Stewart Western Winchester ’73 (1950) on Film4 on Thursday (2/7) at 17:05.

One curiosity this week is 80,000 Suspects. On Talking Pictures on Sunday (28/6) at 01:10, and shot in Bath, it could hardly be more topical. A doctor with marital problems battles a smallpox epidemic.

John Morrish and Stephen Ilott