Recommended films on TV



There’s no doubt about our Film of the Week. It is Pedro Almodóvar’s wonderful Julieta (2016), which CFS showed in the 2017/18 season. If you missed it then you are in for a treat; or you may just want to enjoy it a second time.

Julieta has all the Almodóvar trademarks: vibrant colours, sumptuous costumes, elaborate sets, powerful and beautiful women. But it also finds him leaving aside camp humour and rediscovering deep emotion for the first time in ten years. It is, you might say, “an Almodóvar film for those who don’t like Almodóvar”.

The story is complicated in outline, but flows with such confidence that you don’t even notice the temporal shifts. Cleverly adapted from three stories by the Canadian Nobel-laureate Alice Munro, Julieta tells of unhappy, middle-aged Julieta (Emma Suárez), who lives in Madrid and is preparing to move to Portugal with her lover. Then she bumps into a childhood friend who unwittingly tells her that Antia, Julieta’s long-lost daughter, is living in Switzerland with her children. To understand this estrangement, Julieta starts writing an account of her own early years. In one of the director’s boldest strokes, the young Julieta is played by a different actress, Adriana Ugarte, who manages to look exactly like Suárez while embodying the style of mid-Eighties Spain.

Julieta is on at midnight on Saturday night/Sunday morning on BBC2. Some have asked how, short of staying up in the middle of the night or setting your own clunky recording box, you can watch our recommendations for BBC-broadcast World Cinema films. The same with BBC films shown during the day. This week you might want to see the evergreen Billy Wilder classic Some Like it Hot, on BBC2 on Saturday (30/5) at 15.40, but who wants to watch television on a May afternoon?

Thanks to the magic of iPlayer, and the iPlayer app on your TV, box or laptop, you can watch at your own convenience. All the films shown on the BBC, at whatever time or day or night, are available for streaming. Any modern film immediately becomes available for 30 days. Scroll down to the films section or use “Search” and it will tell you how many days are left.

Where licensing allows, older films become available for “a year or more”. So if you have always wanted to see Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), which was on last Tuesday on BBC at 3.05 in the afternoon, and you missed it because you were working or having a life, don’t panic. It won’t be going away any day soon.

If you use a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile and install special software from the iPlayer site, you can even download most, but not all, of the films to watch off-line for the same periods of time, but they will disappear when the limit is up.

Naturally the BBC iPlayer only works with the BBC. On BBC2 there are three interesting films on Sunday (31/5), apart from those already mentioned: the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic Oklahoma! (1955) at 14.05; Dunkirk (1955) at 17.00; and Billy Elliot (2000) at 22.30. On Wednesday (3/6) at 14.50, BBC2 is showing Carmen Jones (1954), a brilliant reimagining of Bizet’s opera with a contemporary setting and a black cast. And on Friday (5/6) at 14.45, still on BBC2, there is a showing of the 1934 Rogers/Astaire musical, The Gay Divorcee, made when “gay” (mostly) meant something different.

You have to have a BBC account and log in the first time you use iPlayer. You do also have to have a TV licence.

This has been a public interest announcement, made partly to cover up for the paucity of unusual World Cinema items on the other channels. Film 4 has the very watchable Gemma Bovery (2014) on Wednesday (3/6) at 23.15, transposed into French from the Guardian graphic serial by Posy Simmonds. The Raid 2 (2014), a crime story set in Jakarta, was shown at Cineworld and receives a very good IMDB score. That’s on Film 4 on Saturday (30/6) at 23.15. Other World Cinema items of real merit include The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino on Monday (1/6) on Film4 at 23.25.

There are also many worthwhile English-language films on the non-iPlayer channels. We have decided to stop compiling and checking the long listings of those because, frankly, it was too much work. The Radio Times website or your on-screen programme guide will do as well.

For those who are interested in online film during the Covid crisis, We Are One: A Global Film Festival is a free 10-day online festival on YouTube. It runs from May 29 – June 7 and can be found at It has supported by most of the major film festivals in the world and is for charity. It has nothing to do with Cheltenham, however.

John Morrish and Stephen Ilott