Recommended films on TV


This is the story of a career in three acts. In the first, Yorgos Lanthimos made The Lobster (2015), a strange film featuring national treasure Olivia Colman, which would prove to be one of our most unpopular when we showed it in 2016/17. In the third, he made another strange film, starring the same national treasure, that nonetheless become a popular sensation: The Favourite (2018). So what happened in the second act? He gave us The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017).

No animal cruelty features in the film, although there is a lot of human cruelty: its title is a reference to a Greek myth in which Agamemnon is required to atone for killing a sacred deer by sacrificing his own daughter. In Lanthimos’s film, a surgeon befriends a boy whom he says has lost his father in a car accident. It later emerges that the death occurred on the operating table. When shocking and bizarre things happen to the family they look like the peculiar boy’s revenge. The film features the same kind of strange affectless performances and delivery as The Lobster, with an even more starry cast, including Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan and Alicia Silverstone, required to undergo similar indignities. Unlike The Lobster, which fades in the second half, The Killing of a Sacred Deer stays surprising and alarming until the very end. It’s on Film4 on Tuesday (10/11) at 23:15.

World Cinema

Climax (2018) is about a French dancing ensemble in the 1990s who discover that their refreshing sangria has been laced with LSD. The terrors that follow may be hallucinatory or they may not. Directed by Gaspar Noé. It’s on Film4 on Saturday (7/11) at 23:35.  

On Sunday (8/11) at 01:30, Film4 brings us The Neon Demon (2016), another horror/thriller, directed by the Danish troublemaker Nicolas Winding Refn but set in Los Angeles with an American cast. 

Sauvage (2018), on Channel 4 on Wednesday (11/11) at 01:10, has a title that sounds like a posh perfume, but is actually a graphic and disturbing tale about a rent-boy in contemporary France. 

On Thursday (12/11) at 00:55, Film4 has Bacurau (2019), a strange and bloody Brazilian allegory, set in the near future, in which a village has to defend itself against a mysterious foreign killing squad who seem to want to erase it (literally) from the map.

Stephen Ilott’s picks

On Saturday (7/11) on BBC2 at 01:00 and subsequently on iPlayer, Stephen has picked Stanley Kubrick’s classic Paths of Glory (1957), with Kirk Douglas as an officer charged with defending some men accused of cowardice. Winston Churchill apparently said it was the film that came closest to capturing the atmosphere of the First World War. At 14:40 on the same day and the same channel, and again on BBC4 on Thursday (12:11) at 20:00, and also on iPlayer, he has picked On the Town (1949), the Stanley Donen musical with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Sunday (8/11) will be a strange Remembrance Day this year. At 22:45, and on iPlayer, BBC2 has the extraordinary They Shall Not Grow Old (2018), Peter Jackson’s First World War documentary using restored, colourised and revoiced archive film. Not to be missed. On Friday (13/11) at 22:45, BBC1 has A Simple Favour (2018), a highly entertaining film about a stay-at-home cooking “vlogger” whose best friend, a slick city PR woman, mysteriously disappears. Stephen also has a belated recommendation for Pepe the Frog: Feels Good Man (2020), a terrifying documentary about an idealistic young cartoon artist who finds the harmless frog character he has created becoming an icon of the American far right. You will have to find it on iPlayer. It’s well worth it. 

Other modern films of interest

On Saturday (7/11) at 00:30, Channel 4 has the belated sequel T2 Trainspotting (2017), with the original miscreants 20 years on. At 22:30, Sky Arts has Show Me The Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall (2019), a documentary about the great rock photographer of the 1960s. On Monday (9/11) at 00:00, Channel 4 has Hail, Caesar! (2016), with George Clooney et al, which we showed last season. 

On Tuesday (10/11) at 23:05, ITV4 has Lone Survivor (2013), a fact-based thriller with Navy SEAL leader Mark Wahlberg setting out to capture a Taliban leader in 2005. 

On Thursday (12/11) at 01:00, Channel 4 has Morgan (2016), a sci-fi horror in which a corporate risk manager has to decide whether to eliminate a troublesome humanoid. It’s only a matter of time. 

On Friday (13/11) at 21:00, ITV4 has Casino Royale (2006), Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond. Stirred, not shaken. 


On Sunday (8/11) at 16:00, ITV4 has Lonely are the Brave, a Western starring Kirk Douglas and written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. At 21:00 and again on Friday (13/11) at 23:35, Film4 has True Lies (1994), with Arnold Schwarzenegger as a fearless secret agent who suspects his wife (naughty Jamie Lee Curtis) has been playing away while he has been battling terrorists. Implausible, misogynistic, gripping.

On Monday (9/11) at 11:00 and on Friday (13/11) at 16:05, Film4 has El Dorado (1967), a masterful Howard Hawks Western with John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. 

Local interest on Wednesday (11/11) at 03:15, when Talking Pictures screens Wild Wings (1965), an award-winning documentary about Peter Scott and Slimbridge. Two more on the same channel later. At 07:50, there is 90 Degrees South (1933), a pioneering documentary about Captain Scott’s doomed attempt to reach the South Pole and, more importantly, get back. Originally released as The Great White Silence, and assembled from real footage and staged scenes in 1923, it was dubbed with rudimentary sound to create the newer version. At 18:55, there is Hand in Hand (1961), a drama about a Catholic boy and a Jewish girl who become best friends but are beset by prejudice on all sides.

Sony Action has This Gun for Hire (1942), a proto-noir from a Graham Greene story, with a then unknown Alan Ladd, tragic Robert Preston and glamorous Veronica Lake. That’s on Thursday (12/11) at 11:30. The same day at 12:10, Talking Pictures has Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957), in which a woman falls into despair after finding her husband dallying with a younger woman. Raw, insightful kitchen-sink avant la lettre.

On Friday (13/11) at 15:25, Talking Pictures has The Boys (1962), a cardboard courtroom drama about moody young delinquents put on trial for killing a night watchmen. Finally, at 23:10, the same channel has Goodbye, Columbus (1969), a romcom/drama based on Philip Roth’s book, designed to cash in on the success of The Graduate (1967) and starring Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw. The plot revolves around McGraw’s character’s contraception options. It says here.

A lot of Talking Pictures films this week. And why not? This delightful independent repository of archive British film and TV deserves your support. You can find it on Virgin channel 445, Freesat 306, Freeview or Youview 81, or on Sky digital at channel 328. 

And that concludes your first film list for Lockdown Part Two. Just when you thought it was safe to go into Wetherspoons.

Don’t forget, our excellent CFS Online mini-season is available free to members at Non-members can watch the films, but you will have to pay for them.