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A Trifecta of What’s Best on the Box for Sunday 14 January 2018

Today’s Number One Film:

Unforgiven, 8.55am Cinemax. Watch this if you liked 3.10 to Yuma, The Wild Bunch or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. As lead star and director of this hard but deeply satisfying and unequivocally excellent film, Clint paid back for Heartbreak Ridge, The Bridges of Madison County and all the other excesses he foisted upon us. This, unquestionably his magnum opus (no matter how fond you are of quoting dialogue from Dirty Harry) is a brooding examination of the cost of violence and the failure of society to help those who need it most.As bleak as it is, it celebrates our small attempts to defeat all that is base in ourselves even as we sink. The story of a flawed man trying to make good in difficult times remains as valid today as it did at the time of Jesse James or Jesus Christ. People don’t die spectacularly when shot in this film: they scream for hours before going silent, as the thoughtful viewer will.It screens undeservedly rarely on cable and any chance to see it should be grabbed, even early morning ones; it’s bound to be better than church, in any case. Directed by Clint Eastwood/ 1992/ USA/ Western/ 131 mins/ Rated R for language, violence and a scene of sexuality.

Also watch:

Babe aka Babe: The Gallant Pig, 3.03pm Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked The Adventures of Milo & Otis, Homeward Bound or the sequel Babe: Pig in the City. One of those rare family-oriented films that reaches the level of ‘splendid’, this film is intelligent, provocative, touching and entertaining – and teaches children (and maybe even adults) that they can become anything they want to be. Both timeless and timely – it is a powerful call for tolerance of difference and the recognition of the individual hidden by the stereotype – Babe is both a real treat and a real reward. Directed by Chris Noonan/ 1995/ Australia-USA/ Family-Fantasy/ 99 mins/ Rated G.

Pleasantville, 1.25pm HBO Signature. Watch this if you liked The Truman Show, Groundhog Day or Stranger Than Fiction. An excellent film on all levels, starting with an outstanding script and backed by flawless direction and magnificent performances. Technically it is not only sound but ground-breaking, with the medium of cinema itself being used to make the film’s points, via colour taking over the black & white screen as the spirit of rebellion and free thinking spreads. Thoroughly wathcable and immensely rewarding. Inspired, quite close to genius filmmaking, actually, and all the more admirable because it is unapologetically, thoroughly All-American. Recommended like a chocolate shake before the prom and heavy petting after. Directed by Gary Ross/ 1998/ USA/ Fantasy-Drama/ 124 mins/ B&W and colour/ PG-13 for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language.

Just Nosed Out:

** Inception (Action-Sci-fi-Thriller) BEST FILM OF THE DAY, 1pm HBO; Poltergeist (Supernatural Horror), 8.45am MaxP; Dead Calm, 9.30pm DTV; The Hangover (Stoner Comedy), 9pm Max; Frida (Docudrama), 11.05am FoxCin; Mad Max: Fury Road (Action-Sci-fi-Thriller), 5.15pm MaxP.

Also Ran:

Action/Adventure: Batman: The Dark Knight (Superhero), 2.35pm Spac.

Animated/Family: The Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio), 10pm TCM.

Arthouse/Independent/Cult: **The Truman Show (Drama), 3.20pm CnCl.

Biography/Documentary: Charlie Wilson’s War (Docudrama), 9.35am HBOS.

Classic: **The French Connection (Crime-Drama), 1.40pm FoxClas.

Comedy: Sex & the City (Chick Flick), 9pm HBOS; Hail, Caesar! (Coen Bros), 9.50pm Max.

Drama: Love in the Time of Cholera, 9pm FoxCin.

Horror: Zombieland (Comedy), 10pm FxMv.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: King Kong, 9.50am HBO.

Thriller: A Perfect Murder, 6.35pm MaxP.

War: Sands of Iwo Jima (Classic John Wayne travesty), 7.55am FoxClas.

Western: Silverado, 7.52am Spac.

*Starred films have been picked in the last year.**Double-starred films have been picked in the last two months.***Triple-starred films were picked last week.

Particularly strong Also Ran films are bolded.

Please verify times.Advance Internet scheduled times can be wrong, especially at month-end.