The Omen, 8.10am, Fox Classics. Watch this if you liked The Exorcist, The Shining or Rosemary’s Baby. The less said about the plot, the more the viewer will enjoy this creepy horror using Biblical prophecies about the rise of the Anti-Christ as its base and huge atmosphere all the way to its summit. Immaculate pacing keeps the viewer on the edge throughout a series of unsettling events and memorably chilling images, with the very last frame being a contender for the best ever shot in all cinema. Horror movies rarelyRead more
*The Usual Suspects, 12.25 midday Fox Classics. Watch this if liked The Sixth Sense, Unknown or The Magician of Lupin. One of the best thrillers ever made, this extremely clever whodunit featuring a genuinely stellar cast – Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Spacey, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri (and a Baldwin) – has more twists than a family pot of spaghetti. Any thinking person lucky enough neverRead more
If it were not one of the most-often-chosen – six times in the five years since this incarnation of BC on TV began – the near-perfect Bill Murray/Harold Ramis existentialist comedy Groundhog Day (6.20pm TCM BEST FILM OF THE DAY) would certainly have been today’s top choice.
Today’s Number One Film:
*Shutter Island, 12.25 midday Fox Action. Watch this if you liked Inception, Memento or The Matrix. A contender for Best American Film of 2010, and almost certainly the Most Imaginative, this is the film Martin Scorsese should have got the Oscar for, not The Departed; you spend the first four reels thinking, “WTF?” and the last reel going, “Wow!” Almost unbelievably, in the 260-plus weeks this incarnation of BC on TV has been running, this film has been chosen only twice before, a reflection, not of its quality, but of how relatively rarely it screens on cable and DirecTV. Directed by Martin Scorsese/ 2010/ USA/ Thriller-Mystery-Fantasy/ 138 mins/ R for disturbing violent content, language and some nudity.
Unforgiven, 9.30am HBO Caribbean. 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. Directed by Clint Eastwood/ 1992/ USA/ Western/ 131 mins/ Rated R for language, violence and a scene of sexuality.
The Illusionist, 6.35pm Paramount. Watch this if you liked The Prestige, The Usual Suspects or The Magician of Lublin. Neil Burger’s stirring adaptation of the Steven Millhauser short story is a rare treat from an even rarer source: Hollywood. Based on a sharp script and solid direction of immaculate performances, The Illusionist happens also to be a thoroughly watchable mystery thriller. Some might wish for a little more grunge but that would be pedantry. An exceptional Phillip Glass soundtrack renders the whole thing all but flawless. Not a literary worth, to be sure, but, as a lovely blend of period piece and well-paced whodunit, it delivers in spades. Think of it as The Usual Suspects meets Pride & Prejudice. The thinking punter’s version of The Prestige. Directed by Neil Burger/ 2006/ Czech Republic-USA/ Thriller-Mystery-Drama/ 110 mins/ PG-13 for some sexuality & violence.
Just Nosed Out:
Doctor Strange (Superhero), 1.30-pm HBOC, 9pm HBO2; **Hell or High Water (Crime-Drama-Western), *Creed (Action-Drama-Sports), 4.45pm HBOS; 11.05am HBO; Raiders of the Lost Ark (Action-Adventure-Thriller), 1.20pm FoxClas; Braveheart (Adventure-Epic-History), 1.10pm CnCl.
Action/Adventure: Jurassic Park, 11.05am MaxP.
Animated/Family: Kubo & the Two Strings, 10.40am HBOP.
Arthouse/Independent: Croupier (Drama), 1.45pm Max; Man of the Year (Drama), 1.30pm FoxMov.
Biography/Documentary: Straight Outta Compton (Music), 7pm HBOS; Frida (Art), 12.20 midday FoxCin; MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (Sport), 10.40am Max.
Classic: Saint Elmo’s Fire (Classic-Drama-Young Adult), 2.08pm TCM.
Comedy: Forrest Gump (Drama-Fantasy), 4.10pm CnCl; Ted (Animated-Stoner), 9pm FoxCom; Not Another Teen Movie (Stoner Parody), 1.41pm Edge.
Drama: Man on Fire (Denzel Washington Action), 10pm FoxMov.
Foreign: Life of Pi (Taiwan-USA-UK-Can Adventure-Fantasy), 11am CnCl.
Horror: Jaws (Creature Horror), 9pm Stun.
Sci-fi/Fantasy: LOTR 1, 11.54AM AMC.
Thriller: The Girl on the Train, 9.18am HBO2.
War: Macarthur (Biodrama), 3.15pm FoxClas.
Western: Hondo, 7.35pm 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.
Today’s Number One Film:
The Shining, 5.59pm HBO Plus BEST FILM OF THE DAY. Watch this if you liked A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws or Don’t Look Now. Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of Stephen King’s best book about the man descending into madness at the haunted hotel is far better than the travesty King himself perpetrated 17 years later. The movie is ram-crammed with scares of all kinds – creepy-under-the-skin/ set-your-heart-racing/ jump-out-of-your-seat – and, as lanyap, Jack Nicholson’s greatest performance. This is BC on TV’s unquestionably favourite horror, with real chilling scenes that get to and stay with you instead of the modern special effects bloodbaths that are forgotten even as they’re watched. A masterpiece from one of the great American – and anywhere else – filmmakers of all time. When it’s done, console yourself with a stiff red rum! Directed by Stanley Kubrick/ 1980/ UK-USA/ Horror/ 146 mins/ Rated R.
The Exorcist, 8pm HBO Plus. Watch this if you liked The Omen, The Shining or the original Wes Craven A Nightmare on Elm Street. Though gore and special effects have been greatly improved in modern movies, The Exorcist, at 44 years old, is far, far scarier than most of today’s rubbish. Before excess replaced finesse, this movie had people running screaming out of cinemas all over the world. Watch the scene with the crucifix – far, far more upsetting than the book version – and you’ll see why. The opening music alone, the first minutes of Mike Oldfield’s 25-minute long, ‘Tubular Bells’ is by itself terrifying. This, the “version you’ve never seen”, includes three seconds of footage – the stairs descent – that adds years to the viewers’ life through sheer creepiness. A masterpiece of unease, distress and fright. Directed by William Friedkin/ 1973/ USA / Horror/ 122 mins/ R for strong language and disturbing images.
Poltergeist 4.03pm HBO Plus. Watch this if you liked A Nightmare on Elm Street, Phantasm or The Shining. The man who made one of the most imitated horror movies of all time – the early American slasher movie, 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – does for the supernatural horror what he does for the splatter one. The screenplay, by one Steven Spielberg, is wonderfully spooky, starting off in haunted house realms but wandering into dream/space territory towards the end (and even then it’s gripping). This is the template from which the makers of Paranormal Activity and all the modern, far less scary, versions are cut. Directed by Tobe Hooper/ 1982/ USA/ Horror / 114 mins/ Rated PG.
Just Nosed Out:
North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock Suspense Thriller), 11.32am TCM; *Nobody Walks (Indy Drama), 12.45 midday FoxCin; Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man (Documentary-Music), 9pm Sund; **Man on Fire (Action-Thriller), 2.55pm FoxAct; Zoolander, 2.25pm FoxCom; *The Matrix (Sci-fi-Thriller), 7.31pm TCM; Meek’s Cutoff (Indy Western), 12.25 midday Sund; *25th Hour (Spike Lee Drama), 2.06pm TCM; *Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood inner-city drama), 6.35pm MaxP;
Action/Adventure: Armageddon, 12.26 midday Max.
Animated/Family: *The Jungle Book, 8.10pm HBOF.
Arthouse/Independent: Moonrise Kingdom (Dark Comedy-Drama), 10.15pm ISat.
Biography/Documentary: Abortion: Stories Women Tell, 9.10am HBO; MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (Sports), 8.40am Max.
Comedy: *Death at a Funeral (Black version), 8.37pm Edge.
Drama: A Late Quartet (Classical Music), 10.55am FoxCin.
Foreign: *Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Chinese Kung Fu), 11.50am Max.
Horror: *Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Pt I, 11.18am HBO2.
Sci-fi/Fantasy: **Chappie, 12.25 midday MaxP.
Thriller: *Star Wars VII (Adventure-Sci-fi), 5.50pm HBOF.
War: Pearl Harbour, 8.42am Spac.
Western: Gunfight at the OK Corral, 9pm FoxClas.
*Starred films have been picked before. **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.
Planet of the Apes, 2.05pm Fox Classics. Watch this if you liked Aliens, 2001: A Space Odyssey or Aguirre: The Wrath of God BEST FILM OF THE DAY. The monkey-suit sequels and the dreadful Tim Burton/Marky Mark 2001 remake obscure one of Hollywood’s – and, indeed, the world’s – best-ever films. It offers stunning cinematography, an unassailable script, superb costuming and even a great performance from Charlton Heston as the leader of the US spaceship crew landing on a planet where the roles of apes and humans are reversed; the last frameRead more