Saturday, 19 December 2015

Films on Freeview TV : saturday 19th of December

The Bishops Wife (1947 104min.) [BBC2 12.45pm]

Fantasy comedy starring Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young. An angel descends to Earth to help a troubled bishop, whose marriage and faith have been weakened by his efforts to raise money for a new church.

Charming, if slightly underwritten comedy, with Grant and his co-stars all in superb form.

The Muppets
(2011 98min.) [BBC1 1.15pm]

Musical comedy starring Amy Adams, Jason Segel and the creations of Jim Henson. Muppet fans Gary, Mary and Walter visit the Muppet Theater in Hollywood, but are horrified by its dilapidated condition. When it turns out a greedy oil magnate is determined to buy the building, the trio set out to find the members of the old gang and persuade them to put on a money-spinning show.

Triumphant return to the big screen for Kermit and his friends : there’s the well tested formula as before – knowingly bad gags, a race against time story, celebrity cameos and a frenetic pace. There’s also some really strong specially written songs.
Very well done and an absolute delight to watch.

A Knight's Tale (2001 126min.) [Film4 1.00pm &+1]

Romantic period adventure starring Heath Ledger. In 14th-century Europe, William, a young commoner, poses as Sir Ulric of Liechtenstein, a knight. But can he change his lowly destiny by winning jousting tournaments, or will the evil Count Adhemar discover the deception before William can win the fair Lady Jocelyn's hand?

A jolly film that at times captures the infectious silliness of The Princess Bride.
Ledger is good value in the lead role but Paul Bettany (as Chaucer) steals every scene he is in. Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy and Alan Tuyk offer excellent support.

There's a good deal of charm in the script (which is filled with knowing anachronisms) and it looks as though everyone involved was having a great deal of fun while making the film.

It is a shade too long and the jousting sequences are slightly too numerous but overall it's a funny, witty, well delivered couple of hours of undemanding entertainment.

Splash (1984 105min.) [BBC2 2.30pm]

A man is reunited with a mermaid who saves him from drowning as a boy and falls in love not knowing who/what she is.

Terrific Ron Howard film fantasy that made stars of Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Touching, warm and engaging.

Dad's Army (1971 90min.) [BBC2 5.00pm]

Comedy adapted from the popular TV sitcom, starring Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier and Clive Dunn. In 1940, with a German invasion threatened, the defence of Walmington-on-Sea is in the hands of Captain Mainwaring, the bank manager, and a motley collection of townspeople who make up the Local Defence Volunteers.

The received wisom is that feature film versions of TV sitcoms are uniformly awful. While this is often the case the Dad's Army film is something of an exception : possibly because the characters are so familiar that there's little need for introducions and we get straight on with the jokes and action.
It suffers a little from the extension of length but the warmth and wit of the TV series survives intact.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993 73min.) [ITV2 7.25pm &+1]

Animated musical drama featuring the voices of Chris Sarandon and Catherine O'Hara. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, longs to escape the routine of Halloweentown. Through a door in a tree, he stumbles upon Christmastown where he engineers the kidnapping of Santa Claus and wreaks havoc among the inhabitants.

Top quality stop-motion animation with some great songs, sets, characters and voice work. Not just for kids and goths!
Superb set of songs by Danny Elfman too.

Star Trek (2009 121min.) [Ch4 8.00pm &+1]

JJ Abrams reboots the Star Trek universe in this prequel to the sci-fi franchise. Rebellious youth James Kirk is persuaded to join the Starfleet Academy, where he befriends Dr Leonard "Bones" McCoy and clashes with officer Spock. When an evil Romulan arrives from the future, the young crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves in the thick of the action.

If you're tired/bored/never bothered with the original TV series, it's multi-headed offspring and the increasingly daft film franchise in which the original TV cast grow older, fatter and slower then you might dismiss this as another entry in a pointless franchise.

But Abrams' film cleverly turns the clock back so that we meet younger versions of the familiar crew members as they meet for the first time, undergo training and take part in their first mission on the then new Enterprise.

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto lead the cast and are both excellent - not impersonating Shatner and Nimoy but dropping in enough physical and verbal references to remind us that we are watching the characters who will become the Kirk and Spock that we know.

It's a clever, witty, smart and fast paced adventure story that requries no knowledge of the original output in order to enjoy the very well handled action sequences and entertaining story.

The only off-note is Simon Pegg's cameo as a comedy Scotty but the rest of the supporting cast are perfect in their roles (Karl Urban's McCoy especially so).

Wolfcop (2014 75min.) [Film4 11.25pm &+1]
Freeview premiere

Alcoholic police officer Lou Garou follows up on a disturbance call in a remote area, but blacks out shortly after arriving on the scene and the following night he transforms from a man into rage-fuelled werewolf. During the day, Lou struggles to remain in control while working to uncover the mystery of cursed him and why. Comedy horror, starring Leo Fafard.

It's a very long way from being brilliant and the 'story' extends very little further than the set-up ; but its short running length, some well done effects and a few moments of inventive humour mean that it's not an utter waste of time.

Thirst (2009 128min.) [Film4 1.00am sunday &+1]

Horror from the director of Oldboy. After selflessly offering himself as a guinea pig to help find a cure for a deadly virus, small-town priest Sang-hyun is transformed into a vampire.

But his attempts to balance his faith with his new carnal desires come undone when he begins a destructive affair with an oppressed married woman whose bloodlust quickly outstrips his own.

Superior Asian horror film that genre fans will love.

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