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Top films to watch on TV this week

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Brendan Gleeson and Mel Gibson in Braveheart (Thursday, GREAT! movies, 9p.m.)

Brendan Gleeson and Mel Gibson in Braveheart (Thursday, GREAT! movies, 9p.m.)

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) ITV, 2.10p.m.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) ITV, 2.10p.m.

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Brendan Gleeson and Mel Gibson in Braveheart (Thursday, GREAT! movies, 9p.m.)

WEDNESDAY

Whiplash (2014) BBC2, 11.15p.m.

Nineteen-year-old drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is determined to excel at his Manhattan music conservatory, so he practises night and day and catches the eye of the school’s most revered teacher, Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons). The hard work pays off and Andrew transfers to Fletcher’s class, but the game of one-upmanship between teacher and pupil spirals out of control as Andrew sweats blood and tears to meet the lofty expectations of his maniacal mentor. Inspired by writer-director Damien Chazelle’s experiences in a fiercely competitive high-school jazz band, Whiplash is an electrifying thriller that delivers one emotional wallop after another. Teller delivers a bravura performance complemented by Simmons’ jaw-dropping, Oscar-winning portrayal of the foul-mouthed, bullying conductor.

THURSDAY

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Braveheart (1995) GREAT! movies, 9p.m.

“Of course, as a director, what I really want to do is act,” wise-cracked Mel Gibson at the 1996 Academy Awards, as he clutched his statuette for Best Director. This historical epic charting the life of legendary Scottish hero William Wallace and his efforts to defeat the tyrannical King of England, Edward I, won five Oscars in all.

For Gibson, it was a triumph. His first behind-the-camera effort, The Man without a Face, had been well-received but was never Oscar material. This tartan tale, however, was a dead-cert from the word go. The epic was filmed in many Irish locations, most notably the pivotal battle scene, shot at The Curragh.

It’s eye-wateringly violent, bloody and raw, although Mel’s Scottish accent leaves a lot to be desired. Brendan Gleeson, Patrick McGoohan, James Cosmo and Catherine McCormack also appear.

FRIDAY

Mid90s (2018) Film4, 10.50p.m.

Thirteen-year-old weakling Stevie (Sunny Suljic) is bullied mercilessly at home by his older and bigger brother, Ian (Lucas Hedges), whose violent outbursts cannot be controlled by their single mother, Dabney (Katherine Waterston). Consequently, Stevie keeps to himself and silently yearns to be part of a gang.

He gets his wish when he walks into a skateboard shop on Motor Avenue and is taken under the wing of Ray (Na-kel Smith) and his freewheeling posse. As the youngest member of the group, Stevie gets a whistle-stop education in disruption, drug experimentation and under-age sex. This downward spiral leads Stevie on to a potentially tragic path.

Mid90s is a tenderly observed coming-of-age story set in Los Angeles during a sun-baked summer, which marks an impressive and assured directorial debut for two-time Oscar-nominated actor Jonah Hill.

SATURDAY

All the Money in the World (2017) Channel 4, 11.40p.m.

Christopher Plummer delivers one of the finest performances from the latter part of his career in director Ridley Scott’s take on an infamous real-life event. But it might have been so different – Kevin Spacey originally took the role of miserly billionaire Jean Paul Getty, but following the actor’s fall from grace, Plummer reshot his scenes with Plummer.

The result is a fine insight into what happened in 1973, when Getty’s teenage grandson was kidnapped and held for ransom. Michelle Williams is also impressive as the boy’s mother, who begs her former father-in-law to pay off the criminals before they kill her son.

Mark Wahlberg, Timothy Hutton and Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher) also appear.

SUNDAY

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) ITV, 2.10p.m.

After George Lazenby’s earnest but ill-fated attempt to fill James Bond’s shoes, Sean Connery struck a lucrative deal with producers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Salesman to return to the role that made his name.

The resulting film is a glittering adventure that was to be Connery’s last 007 outing until Never Say Never Again, an unofficial entry in the series, 12 years later. Diamonds is an outlandish and overblown affair, with everyone’s favourite spy travelling to Amsterdam and Las Vegas in an attempt to foil SPECTRE’s latest plans for world domination.

Jill St John makes a feisty heroine, Charles Gray a suave super-villain and Shirley Bassey sings John Barry and Don Black’s seductive theme tune.

MONDAY

12 Angry Men (1957) Film4, 2.50p.m.

Henry Fonda heads the cast as Juror Number Eight, who faces the seemingly impossible task of changing the minds of the 11 other men on a hung jury. They’re convinced a teenage boy is guilty of murdering an elderly neighbour, but Fonda claims there isn’t enough evidence to convict.

It might not sound much, but this is a masterpiece of movie-making with excellent performances from the actors involved. It doesn’t even matter that as soon as you realise it’s Fonda arguing the case for the accused, you can already guess what’s going to happen; sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Lee J Cobb, Martin Balsam, Jack Krugman and Ed Begley are among those playing the other jurors; the film was director Sidney Lumet’s big screen debut, for which he deservedly received an Oscar nomination.

TUESDAY

Scarface (1983) ITV4, 11.15p.m.

In 1932, Paul Muni starred in influential gangster movie Scarface, which left its mark on many great film-makers, including director Brian De Palma, who took charge of this remake – he was so impressed by Oliver Stone’s script he backed out of a prior agreement to helm Flashdance to make it.

Displaying levels of violence that left some queasy, it was one of the most controversial movies of 1983. However, it also features one of Al Pacino’s finest and most iconic performances. He plays Tony Montana, the Cuban villain who becomes a lieutenant for a South Florida drug lord, before aiming for the top – and the only place to go from there is down…

Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia and Steven Bauer are among the supporting cast.


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