Friday, 1 January 2016

Freeview film choices : friday 1st of January

Monsters vs Aliens (2009 90min.) [BBC1 10.25am]
Animated sci-fi comedy featuring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen and Hugh Laurie. Susan Murphy is in love and about to marry her weatherman fiancé Derek when she is struck by a meteorite that endows her with extraordinary powers. Codenamed Ginormica, she is enlisted by the military to join other "monsters" in defending the Earth from alien invasion.

We're living in a Golden Age of Animation, but aside from an occasional Disney princess, animated female protagonists are rare in American films, which makes this Dreamworks production all the more welcome.
Fans of 1950s sci-fi will have a field day spotting homages to films like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and The Blob, but even non-fans should enjoy the colourful action, lovely characters and some delightfully subversive little genre tweaks.

Carry On Cabby (1963 88min.) [Ch5 10.50am &+1]
Comedy starring Sidney James and Hattie Jacques. The proprietor of Speedee Taxis gets some unexpected competition when his neglected wife starts up her own firm - the all-female Glamcabs.

The Sound Of Music (1965 167min.) [BBC1 1.15pm]
Classic family musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. When trainee nun Maria begins to have doubts about her vocation, she leaves her convent in Salzburg to become governess to the seven children of Captain Von Trapp, a widower and retired naval officer. The spirited Maria instils a loveof music in the children, but the family's happiness is threatened by the Nazi occupation of Austria.

Being shown in a digitally restored print.
Robert Wise's direction, Julie Andrews and the Rodgers and Hammerstein score are all perfect. One of the great musicals of the sixties.

Dr No (1962 105min.) [ITV1 1.25pm]
Spy adventure, the first in the series of films based on Ian Fleming's famous fictional secret agent, starring Sean Connery and Ursula Andress. James Bond is sent to Jamaica to find out more about the mysterious killing of a fellow agent. With the help of CIA man Felix Leiter, Bond discovers the evil Dr No's plan to hold the United States to ransom by threatening its space programme.

Wreck It Ralph (2012 97min.) [BBC1 4.30pm]
Freeview premiere
Animated adventure featuring the voice of John C Reilly. The villain of a 1980s arcade game sets off on a quest through other state-of-the-art games to prove there's more to him than just being a bad guy.
Great fun for the first two thirds of its running time but the pace seems to flag as it run out of ideas in the final stretch.
I really enjoyed the voice work of John C Reilly as the titular animated character but felt that they could have done just a little bit more with the story. Still, it’s an entertaining enough hour and a half and very well animated.

The Terminal (2004 123min.) [BBC2 5.55pm]
Comedy drama directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. On a visit to the United States from the eastern European state of Krakozhia, Viktor Navorski suddenly finds himself with no legal status after his country falls to a military coup. Without a valid visa or diplomatic status, the hapless Navorski is therefore confined to JFK airport, much to the irritation of US customs official Frank Dixon who is determined to be rid of the unwanted visitor.

A far better film than it's popular reputation would lead you to believe.

Tangled (2010 96min.) [Ch4 6.00pm &+1]
Freeview premiere
Animated fairy-tale adventure featuring the voices Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. The long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life incarcerated in a tower so when she falls in love with a bandit, she must venture into the outside world for the first time.
From the team that brought you the superior canine animated adventure Bolt (2008) ; this fairy tale animation has several moments of real beauty as the characters are swept along on a series of adventures.
It’s fun to watch, has an uplifting story and several genuine laugh out loud moments.

Independence Day (1996 138min.) [Film4 6.15pm &+1]
A fleet of vast flying saucers launches a devastating and unprovoked attack on Earth. As survivors try to flee the seemingly unstoppable alien invaders, the courageous US president, an ace pilot and a computer genius come up with a plan to take the fight to the enemy and save the human race. Roland Emmerich's sci-fi adventure, starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia and Harry Connick Jr.

Sometimes what you want from a film is to be able to park your brain in neutral and be entertained by an adventure story with lots of explosions and some cool special effects. (What sniffy film theorists call "an empty experience").

If tonight is such a night then you're in luck.
"Independence Day" has a story of sorts but it's mainly an excuse for some "oooooh!" moments as well known global landmarks (mainly in the US!) are blown to bits by pesky aliens.

There's some bits and bobs of acting in there : the always reliable Bill Pullman as the gung-ho action hero POTUS, Jeff Goldblum doing his nutty professor turn, Will Smith as the wise cracking pilot and Vivica A Fox as the token kick-ass female.
Director Roland Emmerich handles the CGI elements well and obviously enjoyed the experience as he reprised the trick with varying degrees of success in "Godzilla" (1997) "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004) "10,000 BC (2008) and the godawful "2012".

Despicable Me (2010 90min.) [ITV2 6.50pm &+1]
Animated comedy featuring the voice of Steve Carell. Behind the seemingly tranquil façade 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.

Skyfall (2012 137min.) [ITV2 8.00pm &+1]
Spy adventure starring Daniel Craig as agent James Bond. When an operation to retrieve a computer hard drive containing the names of agents goes wrong, the authority of MI6 boss M comes under scrutiny. Her only ally seems to be Bond, who is assigned to track down the mastermind behind the theft. It's a mission that will reveal long-hidden secrets from M's and Bond's past.

Shrek 2 (2004 88min.) [BBC3 8.30pm]
Sequel to the hit animated fantasy comedy, featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. On arriving back from their honeymoon, Shrek and princess Fiona are invited to stay with her parents in the kingdom of Far Far Away. But King Harold is less than enchanted by his new son-in-law, and the Fairy Godmother has good reason to want the ogre out of Fiona's life. Cue assassin-for hire Puss-in-Boots...

Rather disappointing sequel to the rip-roaring original. Some very good sight gags and brilliant animation but the story and some of the voice work let too much daylight in on the magic.

A Good Day To Die Hard (2013 93min.) [Ch4 9.00pm &+1]
Freeview premiere
Action thriller starring Bruce Willis. Tough cop John McClane travels to Moscow to help his estranged son, who has somehow become embroiled in an assassination plot. But when McClane senior arrives he discovers that junior is in much deeper than he imagined.

Awful, terrible, desperate : over done and under scripted. A massive waste of everyone’s time.

Les Miserables (2012 151min.) [Film4 9.00pm &+1]
Period musical based on the internationally successful stage show and the novel by Victor Hugo, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. In post-revolutionary France a criminal tries to make amends for his past by raising a young girl as his own. But the policeman who first put him away is unconvinced by the transformation and is determined to expose him.

Catch Me If You Can (2012 134min.) [BBC2 10.20pm]
Comedy drama, based on the true story of conman Frank William Abagnale Jr, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Shattered by the news that his parents are divorcing, 16-year-old Frank runs away to New York. For six years he lives a life of fraud, cashing over $2 million in bad cheques while impersonating an airline pilot, paediatrician and lawyer, and always staying one step ahead of tenacious FBI agent Carl Hanratty.

An essentially lightweight confection that works because Steven Spielberg knows exactly how to make films like this and because of Leonardo DiCaprio's charisma and charm in the lead role.
Great work in the supporting cast from Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen. Enjoyable nonsense.

Shadow Of A Doubt (1942 103min.) [BBC2 12.30am Saturday]
Classic Hitchcock thriller starring Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright. When Uncle Charlie arrives in the small Californian town of Santa Rosa, he is welcomed with open arms by his family. However, his admiring niece soon begins to harbour doubts about her favourite uncle.

Brilliantly played by the two leads and perfectly directed by Hitchcock (it was his own favourite of his work) it’s a tense thriller which builds to a very satisfying final act.

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