Saturday, 26 December 2015

freeview film choices ; saturday 26th of December

Puss In Boots (2011 90min.) [BBC1 3.25pm]
Animated comedy spin-off from the Shrek series, featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. The dashing Puss in Boots goes on a quest for magic beans and a goose that lays golden eggs. It's an adventure that will bring him into conflict with Jack and Jill, his childhood friend Humpty Dumpty and masked feline Kitty Softpaws.

Entertaining little film in which Puss impeccably voiced by Antonio Banderas teams up with Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) for a series of swashbuckling adventures.
Plenty of laughs and some very smart computer animation.


The Croods (2013 94min.) [BBC1 4.45pm]
Freeview premiere
Animated comedy adventure with the voices of Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Nicolas Cage. A prehistoric family are made homeless by an earthquake and are forced to trek through hostile territory in search of a new cave, encountering weird and wonderful wildlife en route.

Slightly wooly and out of control but fast paced and fun. Younger viewers may have some difficulty following the plot but it's bright, sharp and colourful.

Despicable Me (2010 90min.) [ITV2 6.40pm &+1]
Animated comedy featuring the voice of Steve Carell. Behind the seemingly tranquil fa├žade of small-town America, super-criminal Gru plots his biggest heist yet: to steal the Moon. But an encounter with orphan sisters Margo, Edith and Agnes proves that even the most dastardly villain has a soft centre.


Toy Story 2 (1999 88min.) [BBC3 8.00pm]
Animated comedy adventure sequel, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. When his young owner, Andy, goes off to summer camp, Woody is stolen by a toy collector who recognises him as a valuable doll. Woody's erstwhile rival, Buzz Lightyear, leads a rescue party to save him - with chaotic results.

My personal favourite of the Toy Story films.


From Russia With Love (1963 110min.) [ITV1 11.25pm &+1]
Spy adventure starring Sean Connery. James Bond is sent to Istanbul to help a beautiful Russian diplomat defect to the West with an important cipher machine. However, he is unaware that he is being drawn into a trap laid by criminal organisation Spectre.

In most people’s top five Bond films and a special favourite of Jockblue.

Sexy Beast (2000 84min.) [Film4 11.25pm&+1]
Cat-and-mouse crime drama starring Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane. Former crook Gary Dove has put his life of crime behind him and is enjoying an idyllic retirement at his Spanish villa. But the peace is shattered when former associate Don Logan arrives from London to persuade Gary to do one last job - and he's not about to take no for an answer.

Don't be put off by the fact that it appears on the surface to be a Ritchie-style guns'n'geezers British gangster film. Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone are superb in the lead roles, quietly backed up by Ian McShane and Amanda Redman.

An exercise in sustained menace beautifully counterpointed against the backdrop of the sun drenched Spanish countryside.
Terrific.


Marnie (1964 130min.) [BBC2 1.00am sunday]
Psychological drama starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery. Marnie Edgar is beautiful, clever and an expert thief. Her crimes and her hatred of men are the result of a deep-rooted neurosis, which Mark Rutland, a wealthy publisher, is determined to unravel. Discovering her criminal activities, he forces her into a loveless marriage and sets about investigating her mysterious past.

I love Marnie and consider it to be as interesting a film as any Hitchcock ever made.

I also know that it's intentional artificiality and super drenched colour photography really annoy some people.

But I would encourage everyone to see it at least once and hope that others will enjoy it as much as I do.

Under The Skin (2013 103mn.) [Film4 1.10am sunday & +1]

A woman roams the streets of Glasgow. She seduces a number of men that she meets but slowy her detachment begins to slip and she develops empathy with the people she encounters.
Sci-fi drama based on Michel Faber's novel, starring Scarlett Johansson.

I saw this film twice at the cinema on its initial release and was impressed and startled by it on both occasions.
Then it started to turn up in the 'best of the year' lists of critics and film writers whose opinion I respected and I was pleased that I wasn't alone in thinking that it was a very impressive piece of work.

Just to make sure I watched it again on DVD the other night and was pleased that it works just as well on thesmaller screen.

The first thing to say is that it's possible that not everyone will have the same reaction.
Although it has a linear narrative (the central character starts at Point A and travels to Point E via B,C and D)there's no attempt at exposition or explanation. We see what happens but never discover why or how or what theconsequences of the on-screen action are.

If you like your films to be literal and have resolution then you may find Under The Skin not to your taste. It's like a prolonged dream sequence or trance nightmare for much of it's running time only settling down into a more conventional approach in the final third.
The long opening section and near actionless first twenty minutes could see people reaching for the off switch; this is understandable but would be, in most cases, a mistake.

The other thing to say is that it's difficult to preview or review without disclosing plot spoilers and/or letting too much daylight in upon magic.
(I've edited down the Radio Times plot synopsis above to remove two fairly hefty spoilers)

There are three stars of the film : director Jonathan Glazer uses a wide mixture of techniques to tell the story.There's long, slow tracking shots and the use of a motionless camera at times which is most effective at giving a sense of place and isolation. He uses the tiny Go-Pro camera extensively to allow us to eavesdrop on unrehearsed, spontaneous exchanges between his leading actor and (non-actor, unknowing) members of the public and he uses some startling special effects work to give physical presence to one of the storys most striking and effective sequences.

Scarlett Johansson is on screen in almost every scene and carries the film throughout : there are only four credited acting roles and one of those is a non-speaking part.
It's therefore left to the lead actor to tell the story and she does it very, very well indeed. It's a remarkably subtle and smart performance from an actor who is physically virtually unrecognisable as the Hollywood actor we think we knew and who uses an impeccable classless English accent to great effect.

The rain sodden streets of Glasgow and the beautiful natural landscape of the rural areas around the city are thethird star. Beautifully photographed in both cases - whether capturing the push and pull bustle and hustle of thecity centre or the still and/or elemental natural world that Johansson visits as she steers her white van away fromthe metropolis.

The sound design is terrific and Mica Levi's clever score is very neatly wrapped into and woven around the story.

An engaging and rather special film that has the capacity to remain in the mind for several days after viewing and certainly one that rewards a second (or even third) watch.

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