Recommended films on TV 30/1/21 to 5/2/21


Last week, journalists were the heroes of our Film of the Week. This week, they are the villains if, that is, you consider the protagonists of Nightcrawler (2014) to be journalists at all. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a petty thief who discovers there is money to be made by monitoring police radio then taking a camera to the scenes of car crashes, fires and crimes to be sold to TV news. In this he is guided by Nina Romina (Rene Russo), news director of the local station. Then Lou films the aftermath of a triple murder, and finds himself more involved than he had bargained for. This is a stylish neo-noir thriller, set in night-time Los Angeles, a scary place at the best of times. It explores both sensational reporting in the freewheeling US news marketplace and the consumer demand that encourages it. Nightcrawler is on BBC2 on Friday (5/2) at 23:20.

World Cinema

On Saturday (30/1) at 00:45, BBC2 has I Remember You (2017), an Icelandic psychological horror about a young couple restoring a house with a grim history. At 18:00, Talking Pictures has Is Paris Burning? (1966), directed by René Clément, an epic about the 1944 liberation of Paris by the Free French army and the Resistance. With an extraordinary international cast, headed by Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon but also including Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas and Glenn Ford. 

On Sunday (31/1) at 15:05, BBC1 has The NeverEnding Story (1984), in which a bullied boy is called upon to rescue a fantasyland he enters through the pages of an old book. 

On Monday (1/2) at 01:20, Film4 has Sicilian Ghost Story (2017), which powerfully mixes a Mafia kidnapping story with supernatural elements. At 02:35, Channel 4 has Men & Chicken (2015), a weird Danish black comedy in which two adopted brothers make a journey to meet their biological father and find themselves with some disturbing new relatives. Definitely one for the adventurous. 

Stephen Ilott’s picks

Stephen has picked three films on Saturday (30/1). At 00:10, Channel 4 has Thoroughbreds (2017), a dark indie comedy in which Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy play teenage friends plotting a murder. At 16:55, 5 Star has Stand By Me (1986), the Rob Reiner classic about a group of kids who go looking for a body. At 23:55, BBC2 has Francis Ford Coppola’s excellent The Conversation (1974), which we showed in 2016 as part of our CFS Extra mini-season. A surveillance technician hears more than he should. On Sunday (31/1) at 14:45 on BBC2, Stephen has picked The Train (1964), in which the French Resistance have to stop the Germans stealing art treasures and shipping them out of the country. Starring Burt Lancaster and stylishly directed by John Frankenheimer. On Tuesday (2/2) at 23:40, ITV4 has Mad Max 2 (1981), the most highly-rated of the Mel Gibson trilogy, and then at 23:35, BBC1 has the period romcom Shakespeare in Love (1998), starring Gwyneth Paltrow before she became a lifestyle guru. With a script co-written by Tom Stoppard, the film won seven Oscars, including one for Dame Judi Dench. She secured Best Supporting Actress for her role as Good Queen Bess, even though she is only on screen for six minutes. 

Other modern films of interest

On Saturday (30/1) at 12:30, 5Select has Pride & Prejudice (2005). This version, with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, was never going to beat the BBC’s Colin Firth / Jennifer Ehle mini-series of 1995, but it is a very good film in its own right. Knightley is wonderful as Lizzie Bennett and Macfadyen is touchingly glum and shy as Darcy. Directed by Joe Wright, who would later give us Atonement, Anna Karenina and Darkest Hour. At 22:00, BBC2 brings us Beautiful Boy (2018), with Steve Carrell and Timothée Chalamet as a father and son dealing with drug addiction. 

On Sunday (31/1) at 22:45, BBC2 has the second part of Lance (2020), an all-access documentary about the cheating cyclist Lance Armstrong. We forgot to list last week’s part one, so if you want to see that you will have to find it on iPlayer. 

On Tuesday (2/2) at 21:00, Sky Arts brings us David Lynch: The Art Life (2016), a documentary about the legendary director’s early life, showing how he moved from painting into film-making. 

On Wednesday (3/2) at 21:00, BBC2 has Breathe (2017), a powerful true story, with Andrew Garfield as a man who contracts polio in 1958 and Claire Foy as his devoted wife. They devote their lives to helping other polio patients. 

On Friday (5/2) at 22:00, Sky Arts brings us Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015), about Janis Joplin’s rise to fame. With extensive use of letters from the singer to friends, family and collaborators. 


On Saturday (30/1) at 14:10, Talking Pictures has The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), a classic comedy set in 1900, about a young widow who finds her house is haunted. With Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison and George Sanders. It can also be seen on Tuesday (2/2) at 14:15. At 18:10, Sony Action has The Desert Fox (1951), a biographical feature about Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, with James Mason in the lead role. 

On Sunday (31/1) at 01:45, BBC2 has Look Back in Anger (1959), from John Osborne’s angry young play and starring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom. 

On Monday (1/2) at 21:00, ITV4 has RoboCop (1987), Paul Verhoeven’s cyborg law-enforcement satire. Violent, excessive and darkly comic. At 23:05, the same channel has Crimson Tide (1995), about a mutiny on a nuclear-armed submarine, with Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.

On Tuesday (2/1) at 15:00, Film4 has My Man Godfrey (1936), a screwball comedy about a family who hire a vagrant as their butler, only for the wife to fall in love with him. With Carole Lombard and William Powell. At 16:50, the same channel has The Far Country (1954), a Western with James Stewart. 

On Wednesday (3/2) at 16:30, Film4 has The League of Gentlemen (1960), a comedy caper in which a army veteran hires some ex-colleagues to carry out a heist. “Thrills – Adventure – Excitement – Laughter”, at least according to the original poster.

On Thursday (4/2) at 00:55, Horror Channel has The Evil Dead (1981), the Sam Raimi horror banned in the UK during the “video nasties” scare of the 1980s. Some teenagers go to a remote cabin and come to a variety of gruesome ends. More fool them. The same day at 02:10, Talking Pictures has The Most Dangerous Game (1932), in which a mad millionaire with a private island releases and hunts down shipwreck victims seeking shelter with him. At 18:35, the same channel has Terminus (1961), a John Schlesinger short about Waterloo Station, mixing a handful of actors with ordinary people going about their daily business. A valuable portrait of the times. Finally for this week, at 21:00, ITV4 has Jaws (1975), still a very frightening film, at least until the rubber shark finally lumbers into view. 

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

Stephen Ilott and John Morrish