Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Freeview film choices : wednesday 30th of December

Chicken Run (2000 80min.) [BBC1 10.30pm]
Animated comedy adventure, with the voices of Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, Miranda Richardson and Mel Gibson. A clutch of hens, led by head chick Ginger, suffers life on a grim 1950s egg farm. When the avaricious owners decide to move into the meat-pie business, the chickens fear the worst. With the help of American rooster Rocky, the birds start to plan a prisoner-of-war-style escape.

Made by Aardman Animation but lacks the warmth and grace of the Wallace & Gromit stories : still, it’s fun for a young audience although I do wonder how many of the references to POW camp films like The Great Escape and Stalag 17 will mean anything to them.

Ponyo (2008 98min.) [Film4 11.00am &+1]
Animated adventure inspired by The Little Mermaid, from director Hayao Miyazaki and featuring the voices of Liam Neeson and Cate Blanchett. When young Sosuke saves the life of a beautiful fish who washes onshore near his coastal home, he soon discovers that she is no ordinary creature.

A superbly told story with Studio Ghibli's usual high quality hand-drawn animation and a top of the range English voice cast. As with all Miyazaki's films there's messages and parables for the older viewer as well as a terrific and rewearding viewing experience for children.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 95min.) [ITV1 12.30pm &+1]
Whimsical fantasy, based on the classic children's book by Roald Dahl,starring Gene Wilder. Most children, at one hungry time or another, dream of visiting a chocolate factory. For young Charlie Bucket the fantasy comes true when he finds a golden ticket in a candy bar: an invitation to tour the giant factory of eccentric sweet tycoon Willy Wonka.

After The Producers, Gene Wilder's finest hour was playing the sinister Willy Wonka, who escorts poor but honest Charlie Bucket, Charlie's grandpa and four other not-so-honest children around his choccy factory in this trippy, nightmarish Roald Dahl fantasy festooned with even trippier and more nightmarish musical numbers ("oompah loompah doopity do!"). Ghastly fates await the kiddies - one is turned into a giant blueberry, another falls into a chocolate river and gets wedged in a pipe. Truly the stuff of nightmares, so it's hardly surprising to learn that it's Marilyn Manson's favourite movie.

Carry On Spying (1964 83min.) [Ch5 12.10pm &+1]
Spy spoof starring Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor. Chaos ensues when four incompetent British secret agents set out to recover a secret formula stolen by the subversive organisation known as STENCH.

Under appreciated entry into the classic comedy series.

White Christmas (1954 115min.) [Film4 1.10pm &+1]
Musical starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Old army buddies Phil Davis and Bob Wallace travel with the glamorous Haynes sisters to the Columbia Inn in Vermont. There, Phil and Bob are reunited with their old commanding officer, General Waverly, who is now struggling to keep the hotel going. The visitors decide there's only one answer - to put on a show.

There’s two really good things on show here : Danny Kaye’s show stealing performance and the direction by Hollywood veteran Michael Curtiz (who also directed Casablanca). Bing gets to sing That Song and Vera-Ellen’s dancing is seriously impressive.

Annie Get Your Gun (1950 103min.) [Ch 5 1.55pm &+1]
Classic musical western starring Betty Hutton and Howard Keel. When Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show rolls into town, Annie Oakley gets the opportunity to impress with her sharp-shooting skills and is pitched into a contest with the show's womanising star Frank Butler.

Freaky Friday (1976 94min.) [Ch 4 2.35pm &+1]
Body-swap comedy starring Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster. One momentous morning, 13-year-old Annabel Andrews and her mother Ellen simultaneously wish they could change places but are alarmed when it really happens. Each thought the other had an easy life. How wrong they were.

Calamity Jane (1953 96min.) [Ch5 4.05pm&+1]
Musical comedy western starring Doris Day and Howard Keel. Spirited cowgirl Calamity Jane brings a glamorous singing star to the Deadwood saloon. But her new friend turns into a love rival, and Calamity begins to wonder whether a woman's touch is more effective than a six-gun.

Some whip-cracking songs (Just Blew In From The Windy City, especially) and Day's astonishing one take only Secret Love plus some fine acting, a great story and David Butler's assured direction add up to a musical that can be watched over and over again with just as much pleasure on each viewing.

Monsters Inc (2001 88min.) {BBC1 4.20pm]
Animated comedy from the makers of Toy Story and Finding Nemo, featuring the voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal. Blue-furred giant Sulley and his one-eyed partner Mike live in Monstropolis and are expert in gathering the screams of Earth children which provide the power for their otherworldly realm. However, when one unafraid little girl accidentally follows the creatures home, their lives are changed for ever.

Alice In Wonderland (2010 104min.) [BBC2 5.50pm]
Fantasy adventure based on the books by Lewis Carroll, starring Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp. At a garden party to celebrate her engagement, the now teenage Alice spots a white rabbit from her childhood dreams and follows the creature down a hole that leads to a strangely familiar world. But the place she remembers is now inruins and Alice is soon pitched into a battle against the evil Red Queen.

Even the most ardent admirers of director Tim Burton's signature psychedelic style struggled with this.
Some scenes are allowed to drag on far past the point at which they should have ended while others that deserve more care and attention are thrown away in minutes.
The end result is an unfocussed and slightly baffling film, unless you have an intimate knowledge of the original book the viewer can spend a lot of time trying to work what exactly is going on.
The decision to add 3D effects in post-production doesn't help either, even when viewed in 2D the visuals seem oddly disjointed.
A massive disappointment.

Toy Story (1995 88min.) [BBC3 8.00pm]
Animated comedy adventure about the secret world of toys, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Woody the cowboy doll is young Andy's favourite toy. But when Andy receives Buzz Lightyear - a brash state-of-the-art space ranger - for his birthday, Woody's position is undermined and the two toys become bitter rivals.

Prince Of Persia : The Sands Of Time (2010 111min.) [BBC3 9.15pm]
Fantasy action adventure starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley and Gemma Arterton. Prince Dastan is framed for murder and is forced to go on the run in the company of a mysterious princess. The key to his salvation is a magic dagger that can shift time and give its owner supreme power, but there are others who also covet the artefact.

Commits the cardinal sin for an action movie of having dull action sequences. And the rest of it is no better.
Film adaptations of video games simply don't work, do they?

Vertigo (1958 128min.) [BBC4 10.00pm]
Classic psychological thriller starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. San Francisco detective "Scottie" Ferguson resigns from the force when his intense fear of heights leads to the death of a colleague. He's persuaded to accept a commission from an old college friend to trail his suicidal wife, only to find himself falling in love with his mysterious quarry.

A fantastic, floating, hallucinatory study of obsessive love wrapped up in a mystery thriller.

Needful Things (1993 115min.) [Ch5 10.50pm &+1]
Horror starring Max von Sydow and Ed Harris. Evil has come to the peaceful community of Castle Rock, Maine, in the shape of a devilish stranger called Leland Gaunt, whose store "Needful Things" promises to fulfil the deepest desires of the community - at a price. Soon, Gaunt's malevolent influence has the townspeople turning against each other in irrational outbursts of cruelty that begin to escalate into horrific violence.

Workmanlike but rather over long adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name.

Sleepy Hollow (1999 100min.) [Film4 11.10pm &+1]
Gothic horror fantasy starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. Unorthodox detective Ichabod Crane is sent to the village of Sleepy Hollow following a series of decapitations. However, his investigation is hampered by the locals' belief that the murders are being committed by the ghost of a headless horseman, and by his growing infatuation with the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's retelling of the classic American folk-tale has shocks, surprises and bags of tongue-in-cheek humour.

The Shipping News (2001 106min.) [BBC2 12.15am thursday]
Drama, from the director of Chocolat and The Cider House Rules, based on the bestselling novel by E Annie Proulx and starring Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore. After the sudden death of his trailer-trash wife, unassuming nobody Quoyle moves to his ancestral home in a fishing village in Newfoundland with his daughter and finds a job writing a column for the local paper. As he becomes immersed in the lives of the people there, he establishes a special connection with a local single mother and widow, Wavey Prowse.

The Fighter (2010 110min.) [Film4 1.20am thursday &+1]
Oscar-winning biographical drama starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Welterweight boxer "Irish" Mickey Ward dreams of a shot at the big time, but loyalty to his dysfunctional family - particularly Dicky, his drug-addicted half-brother and coach - threatens to block his path to greatness.

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