A Trifecta of Today’s Best Films on the Box
For Sunday 4 December 2016
Today could be the best day of the year for wide-ranging film choice, as the large number of “Just Nosed Out” and bolded films in the “Also Ran” reflect – and could well be the best day for Westerns – the top pick and five other titles are bolded – since BC on TV began in 1998.
Today’s number one film:
Slow West [aka Love and Death] (John Maclean/2016/ UK-New Zealand/ Western/ 84 mins/ Rated R for violence and brief language), 11.05am Fox+1. Watch this if you liked The Revenant, The Wild Bunch or There Will Be Blood. The film BC on TV rated the best Western (and seventh-best, overall) DVD release of 2015 is a slow-paced Western that creeps under your skin and explodes into your consciousness. It really needs to be seen several times for its depth to be appreciated but a lot of people won’t give it even the chance it deserves of a single watching, because it offers fewer explosions/gunfights per scene than most other modern films, including other Westerns. The violence it does include erupts without warning, is extreme, gory and distressing – and paints an accurate picture of what life is like in any frontier land at any time. One suspects a future, longer director’s version will close the one or two small gaps that stop it from being perfectly realised but, with Michael Fassbender at his gritty best and Kodi Smit-McPhee – the boy from The Road – in the lead roles, this is exactly the kind of movie that by itself justifies both independent films and film recommendation features.
All Is Bright (Phil Morrison/ 2013/ USA/ Independent-Dark Comedy-Drama/ 107 mins/ Rated R for language and brief nudity), 2.05pm Fox+1. Watch this if you liked Diner, Scrooged or Bad Santa. One of 2013’s most undeservedly overlooked dark comic dramas – and it deserves all three genre classifications, in spades – this vehicle for Paul Giametti starts with him walking along a snow-lined road after his release from a French Canadian prison, his misery juxtaposed by an uptempo, cool jazz, drum-led interpretation of the melody from, “Good King Wenceslas”. For the titles and the first scene alone, where his ex-wife writes him a note, it’s worthwhile – but it only really gets going when he meets his old friend (played immaculately by Paul Rudd) and they hatch a plan to get rich by selling Christmas trees in New York City, so that Paul Rudd can marry Paul Giamatti’s ex-wife. Very dark, very funny and oddly touching, this is a “holiday” film for people who definitely do not sing, “Happy birthday dear Jesus” at Christmas.
45 Years (/Andrew Haigh/ 2015/ UK/ Independent-Drama/ 91 mins/ Rated R for language and brief sexuality), 4.15pm Cinemax. Watch this if you liked Another Year, Night Train to Lisbon or Anomalisa. Without taking away from a strong performance from Tom Courtneay in the role of her husband, Charlotte Rampling, as beautiful as ever at age 70, is the great force behind a riveting relationship drama. The plot device of her husband having been engaged, unknown to her, before their marriage, is revealed early, leaving Rampling time enough to portray how thoroughly lives totally settled for nearly half-a-century can be upended. Nominated for both the Oscar and BAFTA Best Lead Actress, and winning several lesser awards (including at Berlin), she is simply magnificent. This is not a film for the special effects, body count crowd. For lovers of performance, though, it is a treat. By the end, Rampling and director Haigh have taken you through 45 years of a marriage. Very powerful – at least for those willing to put down their phones, stop Face-Booking and pay attention.
JUST NOSED OUT:
**No Country for Old Men BEST FILM OF THE DAY (Action-Crime-Thriller-Western), 1pm FoxAct; **Quigley Down Under (Australian Western), 11.05am FoxClas; The Theory of Everything (Bio-Drama), 4pm HBOC; Schindler’s List (Holocaust-War), 7.30am HBOC; Cinderella (Family), 7.12pm HBO2; Up (Animated-Famliy), 2.07pm Max; Back to the Future (Action-Comedy-Sci-fi), 1.05pm FoxClas; Back to the Future III (Action-Comedy-Sci-fi-Western) 1.27pm HBOF; (500) Days of Summer (Rom-Com), 11.50am FoxMov; Brokeback Mountain (Drama-Western), 8.40am HBOS; Parkland (Docudrama), 9.55am Prmt; Far from the Madding Crowd (Period drama), 7.35am F+1; Gangs of New York (Crime-Drama-Thriller), 11.50am Prmt;
Action/Adventure: **The Dark Knight (Superhero), 10.05am & 9pm HBOP; *Everest, 12.45 midday HBOP
Art House/Independent: Nobody Walks, 10.55pm FoxCin; The Double, 11am HBOS; Running with Scissors, 9.15am ISat
Biography: Invictus, 9.25am HBO2
Classic: Ghost (Romance), 9.45am FoxMov
Comedy: **Dope, 9.35pm HBOP; Burn After Reading (Coen Bros), 6.15pm HBOC; The Cable Guy, 8.05am FoxMov
Drama: Atonement, 2.10pm Max
Foreign: Marshland (Spanish crime thriller), 9.50am FoxCin
Horror: Insidious 3, 11.40pm HBOP
Sci-fi-Fantasy: Gravity, 2.40pm HBO2; Surrogates, 6.40pm MaxP; Star Trek (Eric Bana), 11.35am CnCl; Interstellar, 4.15pm HBO2
Thriller: **Matchstick Men (Crime), 2.40pm HBOP
War: Life is Beautiful (Italian Holocaust), 7.50pm Prmt
Western: *The Revenant, 10.50pm F+1; Big Jake, 9pm FoxClas
*Starred films have been chosen in the last year. ** Double-starred films have been chosen in the last two months. Particularly strong Also Ran choices are bolded.
Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.