Wednesday 20 November 2019

TV films of the week


BBC2, 1.30pm

Alfred Hitchcock's second Hollywood film, after Rebecca, this atmospheric piece stars Joel McCrea as an American reporter trying to expose enemy spies in wartime Britain. Described by Joseph Goebbels as "A masterpiece of propaganda," the film was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1941, but lost out to Rebecca.

Channel4, 5.30pm

For nearly 20 years, this was the highest-grossing comedy film of all time, and still stands up very well to repeat viewings. Macaulay Culkin is Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy left behind when his family fly to Paris for Christmas, to his intial delight. Also stars Joe Pesci and Catherine O'Hara.

Channel4, 9pm

A post-Potter Daniel Radcliffe stars as a lawyer sent to a country village to arrange the sale of a house haunted by a mysterious woman garbed in black, whose arrival predicts the death of a child. Based on the novel by Susan Hill, co-starring Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer.


TG4, 9.30pm

Comedy drama about a guy and girl – Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl – who are set up on a disastrous blind date by their married best friends, after which they hate each other. Fast-forward some years, and they become joint guardians to a one-year-old girl when their friends die in a car crash. Light, undemanding stuff.

Channel4, 12.15am

Intense drama starring Kate Winslet as an unfulfilled stay-at-home mother who starts a relationship with a handsome father (Patrick Wilson) she meets in the local playground. Together they must confront their unpromising marriages and the consequences of their affair. Directed by Todd Field.

Film4, 2.10am

Stunning black and white animation based on the excellent graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, about a young girl growing up against the backdrop of the Iranian revolution. A smart, moving blend of the personal and political. Co-winner of the 2007 Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, shamefully lost out on the Oscar for Best Animated Feature to Ratatouille.


Film4, 9pm

Dense, complex but rewarding French cops-and-robbers film, starring Daniel Auteuil and Mathieu Kassovitz. Endless plot twists take the film through the Parisian underworld, and close attention is required. An excellent script is backed up by very fine acting.

BBC1, 12.35am

Sophie Okonedo stars as a young girl born to white parents in South Africa, who appears mixed-race, and is formally classified as 'coloured' by the apartheid regime, despite the legal challenge of her father, played by Sam Neill. Based on a true story.


RTE1, 9.35pm

Sci-fi action film set in a future where ageing is halted at 25, although death occurs instantly once the genetically engineered inbuilt digital clock each person is born with runs out. However, time can be transferred or 'bought' and is, therefore, the universal currency. Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy and Amanda Seyfried star.

UTV, 11.05pm

Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet are two single women dissatisfied with their lives, who swap houses across the Atlantic, and discover the love that eluded them in their own homes. Also starring Jude Law and Jack Black.

Channel 4, 2.20am

Entertaining classic about a Depression-era con man (Ryan O'Neal) who finds himself landed with an orphaned girl (Tatum O'Neal), who may or may not be his daughter. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, 10-year-old Tatum won a Best Supporting Actress award for her role.


Film4, 10.45pm

Crime thriller directed by David Cronenberg, about the owner of a small-town diner (Viggo Mortensen), who becomes an unlikely hero when he kills two robbers in self-defence. However, the publicity flushes out his dubious past, which causes problems within his family. Also stars Ed Harris and William Hurt.

RTE1, 12.55am

Based on a true story, Julia Ormond is a single mother working as a paralegal who becomes convinced of the innocence of a man convicted of raping a local teenage girl and spends 22 years fighting his case.


TG4, 9.35pm

Loosely-based on General J.O Shelby's escape to Mexico after the Civil War, this stars John Wayne and Rock Hudson as colonels from opposing sides, who find common ground despite their political differences.

BBC2, 11.05pm

Beautifully-shot, gripping thriller harking back to the classic days of the genre, the 1970s. George Clooney is a legal fixer, called in to unravel the mess left behind when a top attorney has a breakdown in the middle of a lawsuit. Corruption, intrigue and double-crosses abound. Tilda Swinton got an Oscar for her portrayal of a slick legal operator.

TV3, 11.05pm

Genial re-telling of the Billy the Kid story, with a cast of original Brat Packers, including Kiefer Sutherland, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. Plenty of derring-do, narrow escapes and male bonding.


RTE1, 2.15pm

Excellent fantasy adventure co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, starring John Neville, Eric Idle, Oliver Reed and a very young Uma Thurman as Venus. Before its release, the film was badly trashed by rumours of financial and on-set mayhem, initially adversely affecting its reception. However, the clear quality on screen has long laid any gripes to rest.

RTE2, 5pm

Decent swashbuckler based on the classic Alexander Dumas novel, this was dubbed 'Young Swords' by one critic, because it reunited Sutherland and Sheen after Young Guns. Chris O'Donnell is D'Artagnan; Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt and Charlie Sheen are Athos, Porthos and Aramis, and Rebecca De Mornay is Milady. Displays a highly cavalier attitude to French history.

RTE1, 1.40am

The violence is still pretty shocking, even in more lax times, but there is no denying the quality of this Sam Peckinpah Western, in which William Holden stars as an ageing outlaw ready for retirement, who wants to settle one final score. Selected by the US National Film Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress.

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