Sunday 17 December 2017

TV film highlights of the week


Catch Me If You Can (2002)

BBC2, 5.45pm

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a conman based on the life of Frank Abagnale who, before his 19th birthday, conned his way to millions of dollars posing as pilots, doctors and lawyers. Stylish, witty film, directed by Stephen Spielberg at his least sentimental with Tom Hanks as the dogged FBI agent chasing DiCaprio.

Bad Teacher (2011)

Channel 4, 9.00pm

Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake star in this light comedy about a terrible teacher who dreams of getting married to her rich fiance and giving up the classroom. Instead she gets dumped and has to come up with another plan -- targeting the wealthy substitute teacher.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

RTE1, 1.55am

Al Pacino and John Cazale star as two hold-up men trying to get money to fund Pacino's boyfriend's sex change. Writer Frank Pierson got a deserved Oscar for his screenplay. The title refers to the sultry dog days of summer; a phrase popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans.


The Ipcress File (1965)

BBC4, 9.00pm

Stylish British spy film with Michael Caine, this was intended as a downbeat, more realistic contrast to the OTT style of the Bond franchise. While Bond was pure public school, Caine's character is a cockney. Great theme by John Barry.

Sightseers (2012)

Film4, 10.55pm

Black comedy about a couple of caravan folk who go on a murder spree at campsites around Britain. Directed by Ben Wheatley and written by Amy Jump. The editor of British Caravan magazine thought it accurately captured some details of such holidays.

The Godfather Part III (1990)

Film4, 12.40am

The final part of the much-loved Mafia trilogy finds ruthless mob boss Michael Corleone has turned into a lovable old grandfather. This weaves in the death of Pope John Paul 1 and the papal banking scandal, along with plenty of over-long opera scenes. Sofia Coppola plays Pacino's god-daughter.


GoldenEye (1995)

ITV2, 9.00pm

Pierce Brosnan's initial outing as Bond was the first of the series not based on Ian Fleming's works. This came six years after Timothy Dalton resigned because of endless delays, and features Judy Dench as M. Goldeneye was the name of Fleming's estate in Jamaica.

Fantastic Four -- Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

Film4, 9.00

Entertaining superhero sequel based on the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comic. This introduces the most hippyish of heroes -- The Silver Surfer -- and refreshingly avoids pretentious explorations of psychological darkness, so highly suitable for kids. Stars Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd.

Insomnia (2002)

BBC1, 11.15pm

A trio of Oscar-winners -- Al Pacino, Hilary Swank and Robin Williams -- star in this drama about a pair of LA detectives investigating a murder in Alaska. Directed by Christopher Nolan, it's based on a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name.


Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)

BBC3, 9.00pm

As the New Age preacher in the Simpsons says when recommending his flock go home and watch a Die Hard movie -- "they're always on and they're always good". This is the third in the series and has some great stunt sequences.

It's Complicated (2009)

RTE1, 9.35pm

Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin star in this comedy about a divorced couple with new partners who start to rekindle their romance. Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, this is well-scripted and very watchable.

Black Pond (2011)

Film4, 11.05pm

Another film in Film4's series of British black comedies. This is about a family who are accused of murder when a stranger comes to dinner. Apparently made for £25,000, it features Chris Langham from The Thick of It and comedian Simon Amstell.


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

More4, 11.00am

John Wayne and James Stewart star in this John Ford Western about a senator looking back on the incident that made his reputation. It also features Lee Marvin and Lee Van Cleef. Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote a song with the same title but it didn't feature in the film and instead became a hit for Gene Pitney.

The Thin Red Line (1998)

TCM, 11.00pm

Philosophical Second World War drama by auteur Terence Malick. Beautifully shot, with Sean Penn, Adrian Brody, Nick Nolte and Jim Caviezel, this is a sombre, stunning reflection.


Saw (2004)

Channel 4, 11.25pm

First in the Saw franchise of incredibly successful and gory horror films. This cost $1m and took in $100m, just the kind of return Hollywood likes, so a sequel was immediately approved. The villain is a playful psychopath called Jigsaw who becomes yet more comical in the sequels.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

TG4, 9.05pm

The original Swedish version of the American remake. Based on Swedish writer Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel, first in the trilogy. Plenty of psycho-sexual violence, but a tightly woven plot keeps viewers gripped. Watch out for the scene in which a character is given a Bushmills 21-year-old single malt.

Double Jeopardy (1999)

RTE1, 12.00 midnight

Thriller about the legal concept of double jeopardy, where a defendant can not be tried for the same offence twice. Smart move, except that the film was criticised by legendary Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz for getting the legal concept wrong. Stars Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd.


Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009)

RTE2, 4.05pm

Based on the popular Darren Shan novels, this begins the story, with Darren going to a travelling freak show and getting mixed up with the bizarre performers, including vampire Larten Crepsley, who has his own peculiar code of ethics. Directed by Paul Weitz, starring Salma Hayek and Willem Dafoe.

Born On The Fourth of July (1989)

RTE1 00.15am

Moving war-themed drama, and one of Tom Cruise's best roles. Signing up as an idealistic young soldier, Cruise goes to fight for his country in Vietnam, but is paralysed and comes back to become an anti-war protestor, finding that the fight begins at home. Directed by Oliver Stone before he became impossibly pompous.

Irish Independent

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