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A Trifecta of What’s Best on the Box for Sunday 22 April 2018

On what might be the best Sunday for wide-ranging excellent film choice this year (as reflected in the number of choices bolded in the Also Ran section), all three of today’s picks and a couple of other films could just as deservedly have taken the BEST FILM OF THE DAY if one wasn’t chosen too recently (***Arrival, 7pm HBOP) or the other didn’t screen a titch too early (Se7en, 8.10am Max).

Today’s Number One Film:

Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut (aka The Final Cut), 9pm HBO Plus BEST FILM OF THE DAY. Watch this if you liked Arrival, Children of Men or 2001: A Space Odyssey. Director’s cuts are usually longer, adding in bits the auteur was forced to remove by studio executives worried about long runtimes. This cut was a literal one and improved the original theatrical release greatly by surgically slicing out its most cancerous five minutes – the contrived happy ending inane American focus groups and studio bosses wanted. Perhaps even more important, it removed entirely the Harrison Ford film noir gumshoe detective voice-over narration, transforming this version into an altogether fine, all but flawless, film. The peripheral or incidental vision of the future, as in Children of Men, is almost better that the film itself in previewing a world we will soon be living in that we’d probably rather not. Its sci-fi roots remain unbroken but the human drama above the surface is what really flowers. Is Harrison Ford a replicant? Are you? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (The title of Dick’s book.) Recommended like tears in rain.Directed by Ridley Scott/ 1982-97/ USA/ Sci-fi-Drama-Thriller/ 112 mins/ Rated R for violence and brief nudity.

Also watch:

This Is 40, 9pm HBO Plus. Watch this if you liked There’s Something about Mary, Hall Pass or We’re the Millers. In its 2013 year-end roundup, BC on TV rated This Is 40 the best comedy DVD release of 2013. Five years later, This Is 40 probably just retains the title ahead of We’re the Millers, because of its sharp script, superb performances – even the kids are perfect – and the magnificent comic timing of director Judd Apatow. Although it is a kind of spin-off sequel to Knocked Up, This Is 40 escapes the very short restraints of stoner comedy to mine a far deeper seam of humour; and even manages to gain in sophistication even as it descends into an adult version of nyah-nyah-boo-boo, as it does in the scene where the male and female leads are called in to their children’s principal’s office. Keep watching to the very end of the credits for the extended version of what might be the funniest scene ever shot in one take. Directed by Judd Apatow/ 2012/ USA/ Comedy-Romance/ 134 mins/ R for sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material.

The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, (aka Le scaphandre et le papillon), 11.20am Cinemax. Watch this if you liked The Sea Inside, Goodbye Solo or The Wrestler. A film that is usually for French speakers or Spanish sub-title readers only – with neither group laughing much – this film has recently screened with English subtitles as well, giving English-speaking viewers a rare chance to see an exceptional, if also exceptionally harrowing and heartbreaking, film. It gives the true account, astonishingly beautifully filmed, of the almost complete paralysis of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby and his amazing life thereafter. It is beautiful and deeply touching and, one supposes, ultimately life-affirming, but if you had 1,000 words to describe it, “escapist” would not make the list. Directed by Julian Schnabel/ 2007/ France-USA/ Biography-Drama/ 112 mins/ Rated PG-13 for nudity, sexual content and some language.

Just Nosed Out:

***Arrival (drama-sci-fi), 7pm HBOP; ***Se7en (crime-drama-mystery-thriller), 8.10am MaxP; Babel (adventure-drama-thriller), 4.15pm Prmt; Shame (Steve McQueen Michael Fassbender drama), 9.15pm MaxP; Before Midnight (indy romance drama), 2.50pm Max; The End of the Tour (biodrama), 4.40pm Max; Forrest Gump (comedy-drama) 7.30pm FoxMov; Fair Game (action-biodrama), 2.15pm Prmt.

Also Ran:

Action/Adventure: Doctor Strange (superhero), 11.35am & 5.45pm MaxP.

Animated/Family: Finding Dory, 9am MaxU.

Arthouse/Independent/Cult: 2 Days in New York (drama), 4.05pm ISat.

Classic: V for Vendetta (sci-fi), 11.30am HBO.

Comedy: Tower Heist (Ben Stiller action-comedy), 5.23pm FoxCom.

Documentary/Biography: The Soloist (biodrama), 1.55pm ISat; Public Enemies (Johnny Depp action-crime), 3.20pm MaxP.

Drama: Bend It Like Beckham (comedy-sports), 2.48pm FoxFam.

Foreign: Chocolat (French rom-com), 10.12am FoxCin.

Horror: The Shallows (action-adventure-creature horror), 5.29pm HBOS.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: Mad Max: Fury Road (action-sci-fi-thriller), 4.55pm HBOP Close Encounters of the Third Kind Dir Cut, 11.16am Max.

Thriller: ***Snatch (action-crime), 1.35pm MaxP.

War: Hope & Glory (WWII coming-of-age drama), 9.38am FoxClas.

Western: Shane, 10.37pm FoxClas.

*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.