Recommended Freeview films, 27/2/21 to 5/3/21


Secrets & Lies (1996) brought Mike Leigh unprecedented critical acclaim and commercial success, but its qualities transcend either of those passing sensations. Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is a successful black professional with an emotional hole in her life. She needs to find her biological mother, who turns out to be Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn), a working-class white woman who had a youthful relationship with a black man and gave Hortense away at birth. On that foundation, Leigh builds a structure of complexity and nuance, exploring the incendiary but redemptive power of truth. Two stunning central performances help make this a film of great intensity and stature. It can be seen on Monday (1/3) at 00:55 on Film4. 

World Cinema

On Saturday (27/2) at 21:00, Paramount has The Fifth Element (1997), Luc Besson’s madly inventive sci-fi. Featuring a distressingly youthful Bruce Willis and reed-thin Milla Jovovitch as a perfect being, arriving from space to save the world. 

On Sunday (28/2) at 19:05, Sony Action has The Birdcatcher (2019). In WWII Norway, a Jewish girl with Hollywood dreams is forced to live as a boy on a Nazi-occupied farm while she plots to escape to neutral Sweden. At 22:00, BBC4 has Sorry Angel (2018). A cross-generational relationship drama set against the backdrop of the AIDS pandemic of the early 1990s. 

On Tuesday (2/3) at 01:20, Film4 has Nico, 1988 (2017), a biopic of the uncompromising German singer known for her idiosyncratic delivery, her harmonium, and her rackety New York life. Brilliantly embodied by Trine Dyrholm. 

Stephen’s Picks

On Saturday (27/2) at 16:45, Stephen has chosen Fort Apache (1948) on Sony Action. John Ford directs John Wayne and Henry Fonda, as two US cavalrymen with contrasting attitudes to the tribe whose land they have occupied. With Shirley Temple as Fonda’s daughter, Philadelphia Thursday. 

On Sunday (28/2) at 14:35, BBC2 has This Beautiful Fantastic (2016), a British comedy-romance about a children’s author who forms an unlikely friendship with a curmudgeonly neighbour. Starring Jessica Brown Findlay, who was very different in Harlots. 

On Monday (1/3) at 00:15, Channel 4 has The Way, Way Back (2013), a sparky comedy about teenage Duncan (Liam James) and the troublesome adults in his life. With Steve Carrell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney. At 14:50, Film4 has 12 Angry Men (1957), Sidney Lumet’s imperishable classic, with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb. 

Other modern films of interest

On Monday (1/3) at 22:00, BBC4 has The Hunt for Gaddafi’s Billions (2021), a Storyville documentary about two journalists on the trail of a pile of cash smuggled out of Libya after the Colonel’s death (also on Thursday at 00:30).

On Tuesday (2/3) at 21:00, BBC4 has Hattie (2011), a drama about the complex domestic lives of husband-and-wife team Hattie Jacques and John LeMesurier (also on Friday at 01:45). At 21:00, Sky Arts has Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art (2020), setting the West Country provocateur in context.

On Wednesday (3/3) at 00:45, Film4 has American Honey (2016), the brilliant Andrea Arnold’s US debut, following a group of raucous young magazine sellers across the Midwest.

On Thursday (4/3) at 00:50, Film4 has Wuthering Heights (2011), by Arnold out of Brontë, with a black Heathcliff. 

On Friday (5/3) at 23:20, Film4 has You Were Never Really Here (2017), from Lynne Ramsay, another British female auteur. A paranoid crime thriller with Joaquin Phoenix. At 23:55, BBC1 has Source Code (2011), a twisty body-swap sci-fi thriller with Jake Gyllenhaal. Directed by the underrated Duncan Jones.


On Saturday (27/2) at 11:30, BBC2 has Pride and Prejudice (1940), with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Screenplay, astonishingly enough, by Aldous Huxley. At 18:50, Paramount has Guns at Batasi (1964), an unusual feature about British military involvement in an unnamed post-colonial African country. With Richard Attenborough. 

On Sunday (28/2) at 22:05, Talking Pictures has Farewell, My Lovely (1975), a Raymond Chandler adaptation with Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe and Charlotte Rampling as Velma, the femme fatale. 

On Monday (1/3) at 14:05, Paramount has Vera Cruz (1954), a Western set during the Mexican Rebellion of 1866, with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster. At 21:00, ITV4 has The Matrix (1999), the first in the Keanu Reeves franchise. It can also be seen on Wednesday at 22:00.

On Wednesday (3/3) at 11:00, Film4 has Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), a Randolph Scott Western, and then at 12:40 the same channel has Anastasia (1956), with Ingrid Bergman as an unstable girl groomed by unscrupulous Yul Brynner to pose as the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, often rumoured to have escaped the 1918 murder of the Russian royal family. 

On Friday (5/3) at 17:00, Film4 has Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a WWII submarine drama with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster and Jack Warden. 

John Morrish and Stephen Ilott, with much-appreciated help from Finn Candy-Waters.