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A Trifecta of What's Best on the Box for Sunday 21 October 2018

If it were showing on a “real” movie channel, BC on TV’s second-favourite horror (The Exorcist, 1,34pm AMC) would certainly have made the cut.

Today’s Number One Film:

*Arrival, 2.40pm HBO Plus BEST FILM OF THE DAY. Watch this if you liked Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Ex Machina or Inception. The French Canadian director who made us all sit up and take notice in 2010 with his first feature film, Incendies, and then rocked us back in our chairs in 2013 with Prisoners, and then bowled us right firetrucking over in 2015 with Sicario returned in 2016 to make us do all three in the same film – just much more slowly. It is perhaps not a film for everyone – and people who require an explosion, a car crash or a murder every ten minutes to keep their attention hooked shouldn’t even bother. For the patitent lover of deeply immersive cinema, however, few films offer this kind of reward. This is a film that has to be watched painstakingly closely to be understood; and then rewatched several times, for its depth and mastery to be appreciated. Exceptional. Recommended like the best Test match you’ve ever watched. Directed by Denis Villeneuve/ 2016/ USA/ Drama-Mystery-Sci-fi-Thriller/ 116 mins/ Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Also watch:

*The Ox-Bow Incident, 9pm Fox Classics. Watch this if you liked High Noon, Bad Day at Black Rock or Hombre. Though it suffers from real limitations modern audiences spoilt by computer-generated special effects might find difficult to overlook, such as the most important scene – the lynching – obviously having been shot in a studio, this is one of the great American Westerns. Its many strengths include a great script (based on a true story), superb direction and a magnificent performance from Henry Fonda (and an almost-as-good supporting cast featuring Anthony Quinn). Not so much for the crowd that requires their Westerns to be riddled with bullets as for those who like to leave a film riddled with doubt. An exceptional film with huge rewards for anyone who can sit still for 75 minutes, and one that rarely screens at a reasonable time on cable/DIRECTV. Directed by William A Wellman/ 1943/ USA/ Western-Crime-Drama/ 75 mins/ Unrated but unsuitable for younger children.

*Big (Penny Marshall/ 1998/ USA/ Comedy-Drama-Fantasy-Romance/ 104 mins/PG) 1.42pm Fox Classics. Watch this if you liked Groundhog Day, Field of Dreams or Freaky Friday. Probably the most undeservedly overlooked film of one of America’s most puzzlingly under-appreciated directors, this is a young adult film that addresses, in a hugely entertaining fashion, far more important existential questions than most adult independent films will dare to tackle. The first film to give Tom Hanks a chance to show off his quite stunning physical acting – it predates Turner & Hooch - is also an early illustration of his dramatic range; there are moments when he IS a 12-year-old boy. Apart from a few cuss words, their own limitations or their parents’ prejudices, there is nothing to prevent children aged nine up from enjoying a great movie.

Just Nosed Out:

*The King’s Speech (drama), 10.20am HBOS; Rise of the Planet of the Apes (horror-sci-fi-thriller), 6.27pm CnCl; The Hateful Eight (QT action-Western), 9pm Max; The Illusionist (thriller-mystery-drama), 2.50pm Prmt.

Also Ran:

Action/Adventure: *Creed: The Legacy of Rocky, 2.20pm MaxP.

Animated/Family: Home Alone, 5.52pm FxMv.

Arthouse/Independent/Cult: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (Johnny Depp), 10.45am Sund.

Classic: Breakfast at Tiffanys (rom-com-drama), 11.46am FoxClas.

Comedy: *There’s Something About Mary (Farrelly Bros borderline outrageous comedy), 7.02pm FoxCom.

Documentary/Biography: Sully (action-biodrama), 7.55am MaxP.

Drama: The Descendants, 10.14am FoxMov.

Foreign: **Lion (Indian-Aussie-Hindi/Bengali/English biodrama), 3.55pm HBO.

Horror: 30 Days of Night (vampire), 7.06pm HBOP.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: Blade Runner 2049, 7.50am HBOP; Lucy, 7.20pm Stun.

Thriller: *Chappie (crime-sci-fi), 1.50pm Spac.

Western: The Quick & the Dead (dark comedy), 6.01pm TCM; The Tin Star (Henry Fonda), 7.26pm 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 fortnight.

Particularly strong Also Ran films are bolded.

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