Recommended films on TV, 23/1/21 to 29/1/21


In Gone Girl (2014), an unhappy husband comes into his house to find a glass coffee table smashed and his wife missing. In the days that follow, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) becomes the principal suspect in the disappearance and the centre of a media frenzy. It’s a common start for a film, but director David Fincher gives the formula a shake at the half-way mark as we discover where Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone and how she came to be there. The result is a stylish, fast-moving thriller that also asks searching questions about truth and lies. Adapted by Gillian Flynn from her own best-selling novel, it features a never-better performance by Pike as the beautiful, ice-cool Amy. Gone Girl is on Thursday (28/1) at 23:05 on Film4. 

 World Cinema

Lots of World Cinema this week. On Saturday (23/1) at 01:50, BBC2 has Timbuktu (2014), the exceptional drama about Jihadists descending on Malian farming folk that we showed in 2016/17. The same day, at 21:30, BBC2 has The White Crow (2018), about Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West. 

On Sunday (24/1) at 00:20, Channel 4 has Buried (2010), a claustrophobic thriller about an American truck-driver buried in a wooden coffin in Iraq. Starring Ryan Reynolds. At 02:15 the same day, BBC2 has  The Spy Gone North (2018), the story of a South Korean agent sent to uncover the enemy’s nuclear plans. Loosely based on fact.

On Monday (25/1) at 01:10, Film4 has A Taxi Driver (2017), about a Seoul taxi driver hired by a German reporter to ferry him to cover the doomed Gwangju uprising of 1980.

On Tuesday (26/1) at 02:45, Channel 4 has Fill the Void (2012), the sensitive, moving Israeli drama about a young girl pressured to marry the husband of her dead sister.  We showed it in 2014/15.

On Wednesday (27/1) at 21:00, Film4 has The Guilty (2018), which we showed last November. A police officer in a call centre tries to deal with a crime unfolding on the other end of the phone. 

On Thursday (28/1) at 02:10, Film4 has Skin Trade (2014), about a New York detective going to Thailand to battle human traffickers. 

On Friday (29/1) at 02:00, Film4 is showing The Woman in the Fifth (2011), about a college lecturer who travels to Paris and meets a widow who may be very dangerous indeed. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, later to bring us Ida and Cold War. 

Stephen Ilott’s picks

On Monday (25/1) at 00:00 on BBC2, Stephen has chosen Election (1999), an early Alexander Payne film about high-school hustings. Said to be Barack Obama’s favourite political movie. On Tuesday (26/1) at 21:00, Film4 has the entertaining American Animals (2018), a true-life heist movie about four young men who attempt to steal a priceless illustrated book from a university library. Finally, on Thursday (28/1) at 21:00 on Film4, Stephen has selected Searching (2018), about a man who seeks out his missing 16-year-old daughter using clues he finds on her laptop. 

Other modern films of interest

Those who enjoyed Netflix’s excellent The Queen’s Gambit won’t want to miss Pawn Sacrifice (2014) on Saturday (23/1) at 23:30 on BBC2. It stars Tobey Maguire as the real-life chess prodigy Bobby Fischer, battling the Soviet Boris Spassky in one of the most famous matches of all time. 

On Sunday (24/1) at 12:00, 5 Select has Miss Potter (2006), a biopic of the children’s author Beatrix, with Renée Zellwegger in the title role. At 22.00, BBC4 has My Mother’s Lost Children (2017), a documentary about a mother whose two children were snatched by her ex-husband, only to reappear 40 years later. In the Storyville strand.

On Monday (25/1) at 18:25, Film4 has Stardust (2007), a family fantasy about a young man who promises to retrieve a fallen star.  

On Thursday (28/1) at 21:30, BBC4 has The Eichmann Show (2015), the true-life story of a pair of American documentary makers and their struggle to televise the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Much more involving than that summary makes it sound.  


On Saturday (23/1) at 18:35, 5 Star has Steel Magnolias (1989), with a stellar female cast in a heartwarming comedy set around a beauty parlour. Not one for Charles Bronson fans. 

 On Sunday (24/1) at 15:45 and also on Friday (29/1) at 15:15, Talking Pictures has Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), a comedy about the eccentric real-life Gilbreth family. Almost nothing to do with the 2003 Steve Martin film of the same name. At 18:15 on Sunday, Paramount has Silverado (1985), a Western with Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner and a surprising John Cleese as a sheriff. At 21:00, ITV4 has National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), in which Chevy Chase takes his family on a comedy road-trip from Chicago to California. 

On Monday (25/1) at 11:00, Film4 has The Furies (1950), a Western with Barbara Stanwyck and Wendell Corey, and then at 15:30 the same channel has Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), the story of tragic Anne Boleyn, with Richard Burton as Henry VIII. It can also be seen on on Friday (29/1) at 11:00.

On Tuesday (26/1) at 02:00, Film4 has the delightful playground comedy P’tang, Yang, Kipperbang (1982), written by Jack Rosenthal. First shown on the second night of Channel 4. At 20:35, Talking Pictures has State Secret (1950), with Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Glynis Johns. In a totalitarian state, a surgeon performs an operation that goes wrong and is held by the authorities. At 21:00, ITV4 has The Blues Brothers (1980). It can also be seen on Thursday (28/1) at 23:20. Finally for Tuesday, at 22:40 Talking Pictures has I Walk Alone (1947), with Burt Lancaster and Lisabeth Scott in a noir thriller about an ex-con who comes out of prison hoping to collect on a debt. 

On Thursday (28/1) at 00:35, Horror Channel has The Dead Zone (1983), a David Cronenberg horror-thriller from a Stephen King book. Starring Christopher Walken as a man who emerges from a coma to find he has psychic powers. At 10:30, Talking Pictures has The Way Ahead (1944), a Carol Reed wartime drama that follows a group of conscripts from basic training through to action in North Africa. 

All of the BBC’s films will be available on iPlayer.

Stephen Ilott and John Morrish