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A Trifecta of What’s Best on the Box for 5 November 2017

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.

Also watch:

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.

Also Ran:

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.

A Trifecta of Today’s Best Films on the Box

Had it not been picked recently, **Fargo BEST FILM OF THE DAY 7.15pm FoxClas, would have topped today’s list.

Today’s number one film:

The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum/ 2014/ UK-USA/ Biography-Drama-Thriller-War/ 114 mins/ PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking) 1.10pm HBO & 2.15pm HBO Caribbean.

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