Thursday 18 December 2014

What to watch: Our pick of TV and film this week

Barclay's Premier League Br/> Saturday from 4.45pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

Published 15/08/2014 | 02:30

Programme Name: Match of the Day - TX: 16/08/2014 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Montage image to celebrate 50 years of Match of the Day
Digital retouching by Matthew Burlem  - (C) BBC - Photographer: Andrew Hayes-Watkins and various
Match of the Day at 50

For fair-weather football fans, the 2013/2014 Premier League season was one of the most exciting and compelling tournaments in living memory. There were thrills and spills, shock results, a new team at the top each week and a distinct feeling that the Premier League was something everyone could enjoy, not just die-hard supporters.

So then, here we go again. The 2014/2015 season kicks off on Sky Sports this week and for once the aforementioned fair-weather fans can join the conversation right from the beginning. Manchester United's disastrous season last year that saw them experience terrifying lows - the likes of which their fans hadn't experienced in decades - is firmly behind them. David Moyes got his marching orders and Louis Van Gaal, he of the impressive Dutch flat-top, has given the fans a reason to feel hopeful about the future. But will they ever have the fearsome reputation they had under Ferguson? Will they have to scrap their way back into the top four, just like everyone else? The world owes them nothing.

Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, gave supporters the dizzying highs they had long dreamed of. Their season was the stuff dreams were made of, except for a last-minute defeat that saw Manchester City snatch the title. It's fair to say Liverpool bottled it, but there's always this season. Were Rodgers' managerial heroics a one off? Did he merely make good use of the power vacuum at the top, and can he repeat that success again this year and - whisper it - actually win the title for Liverpool? Morale will be high but the departure of goal-machine Luis Suarez might leave them lacking something.

And then there's good old Arsenal. Arsene Wenger might be the longest-serving manager in the Premier League but without any trophies to speak of in 10 years, he must have been counting his lucky stars to have scooped the FA Cup last season. If not, he might have gotten his P45 too. But this year, with a squad of fresh faces and deeper pockets than the side has had in some time, the Arsenal faithful believe the club is entering a new era and this could be their time to return to the top.

In short, the greatest league in the world is back this Saturday and to mark the occasion, Sky are lifting the curtain and making all of their sports channels free to air for the day. The league kicks off with Arsenal v Crystal Palace on Sky Sports 1.

Stream it: Mission Blue

Available from August 15 on Netflix

The various streaming services are a great way to catch up on old dramas you missed first-time around, but Netflix has an enormous amount of original and older documentaries, including this week's choice, a brand new oceanographic adventure that serves as a call to arms and a love letter to the deep blue sea.

Mission Blue follows legendary oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle as she travels around the world on a quest to protect the ocean from its most deadly threat: us. Pollution and overfishing - not to mention climate change - are powerful forces that are destroying the oceans' ecosystems and if we're not careful, we'll be next. Featuring breathtaking undersea footage and daring accounts of Earle's undersea adventures, the film is also her personal story, offering insight on the sacrifices and choices her love for the deep has forced her to make over the decades.

Record it: Match of the Day at 50

Friday, 10.35pm, BBC One

As well as the beginning of the new Premier League season, this special documentary also marks another occasion - 50 years of the BBC's iconic Match of the Day. It's a television institution that has long had a special place at the heart of Saturday night TV; the go-to place for all the goals and gossip of the day.

This celebration takes viewers all the way back to the golden era of the game with the likes of George Best, Brian Clough and Bobby Robson and brings it right up to the modern era with contributions from Jose Mourinho, Sergio Aguero, Giggs, Henry, Lineker and many more. Sometimes the show has been caught up in controversy, such as the fateful events of Hillsborough, plus of course there's the unmistakeable theme song, one of the most recognised on TV. Here's to another 50 years of Match of the Day.

Watch it: The Rose of Tralee

Monday + Tuesday, 8pm, RTE One

You know you want to. The Rose of Tralee is one of the most criticised, mocked and disparaged events in the Irish calendar, yet it's also one of the highest-rated TV events of the year too. That's why it keeps coming back, haters, cos you keep watching it. But no matter, the Rose is essential viewing. It's the lovely girls competition, where cailins fly from all over the world to a tiny village to be lovely.

The slagging is rarely in their direction, more the blustering host (Daithi O Se again; bring back Gay we say). It's worth pointing out since the advent of Twitter that The Rose of Tralee has become doubly unmissable.

Movies

The Rover (16)

Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson

Rating: 4/5

Since finally finding himself free of the Twilight saga, Robert Pattinson has been working strenuously to prove that he is in fact a Serious Actor, and not the doe-eyed-but-not-much-else it has been all too easy to dismiss him as following that train wreck of a quintology. And a serious actor he is, as proved by his nuanced performance in this Australian dystopian drama. Essentially a two-hander between Pattinson and Guy Pearce in the lead, The Rover is a tense and violent road movie that evokes No Country for Old Men by way of Mad Max.

In the near future, following a global economic collapse, the Australian outback is a lawless wasteland where life is cheap, but little else is. Loner Eric (Pearce) has one prized possession: his car. When small time criminals make off with it following a botched robbery, Eric thinks nothing of setting off after them to take back what's his by any means necessary. With him is halfwit Rey (Pattinson), brother of one of the criminals. He maintains he knows where the gang can be found, but as their journey goes on, Eric begins to question Rey's motives and exactly where they might be headed.

Eric and Rey's journey across the outback becomes an Odyssey. Each character they meet, be it a gun-running dwarf, a kindly nurse or an officious and profiteering police force offers a further understanding of the dark new world they live in; Mad Max is an easy comparison given the setting and theme, but the future of The Rover is far more terrifying because of just how plausible it is. As well as the minimalist approach (little explanation of 'the collapse' is offered), the attention to detail from director David Michôd gives the world a rusty, dusty realism.

Meanwhile, Eric is a dangerous, fearless individual but it's not a life of adventure he leads. When we first meet him, the only emotion we feel is despair, and one gets the sense that Rey coming into his life and his car being stolen may actually have saved his life, not ruined it. In an intense performance of few words, former soap star Guy Pearse once again proves himself to be one of the most talented actors of his generation and one whose best work is still ahead of him.

Someone else whose best work is certainly also ahead of him is Robert Pattinson, who turns in a startling and brave performance as mumbling man-child Rey. A bundle of nervous ticks and boasting an impressive southern US accent, Rey is as indecipherable as he is pitiful. Choosing intense roles like this to shake off his pin-up past might have been a risky move but he is more than up to the challenge.

The Rover is an impressively staged and remarkably acted drama; while it might not hit the same heights as Michôd's debut Animal Kingdom, it's another fine film out of Australia and one all involved can be proud of.

New releases

Hector and the Search for Happiness (15A)

Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgard

Simon Pegg's film career has two distinct sides: his work with Edgar Wright in the hits Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End, and everything else. With that in mind it's safe to say Hector and the Search for Happiness is the finest non-Wright outing he has been in.

Pegg plays Hector, a successful psychiatrist who has a crisis when he gets a sudden feeling that his life is going nowhere. Contentment is one thing, but a sudden feeling that he might not be happy leads Hector to undertake a journey around the world on which he samples different ways of life, meets old and new friends and tries to figure out what, if anything, is missing from his life.

Pegg's easy charm and likeability is put to good use, as are the supporting cast. But the film's episodic nature is a little laborious, especially during an implausible middle section in which Hector finds himself at the mercy of a drug-smuggling gang. That ill-advised chapter aside, this is a charming comedy drama with plenty to say for itself and one that just might leave you considering dropping everything and hitting the road.

Four of the best

The Congress (15A)

Robin Wright, Harvey Kietel

Robin Wright plays herself in this part-live action, part-animated sci-fi drama in which the veteran actress agrees to sell her digital likeness to a movie studio and never act again.

The Expendables 3 (12A)

Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford

Stallone's franchise finds its third wind as he's joined by an ever-growing gallery of action icons for another dumb-but-fun action spectacular.

The Inbetweeners 2 (16)

Simon Bird, James Buckley

The boys are back on the road again in this crude sequel that sees them set out for Australia on the hunt for sun, sea and sex - not in that order.

The Unbeatables (G)

Rupert Grint, Peter Serafinowicz (voices)

Table football comes to life in this lively and imaginative family animation with plenty to like for children and adults alike.

Irish Independent

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