I don’t (necessarily) intend this to be a regular feature but I see that this is a particularly good week for movies on the box so here are my recommendations:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Saturday, BBC2, 5.20pm
This is the 2005 version and Douglas Adams purists may object to the film’s glossiness but enough of the writers spirit survives to make it a gloriously quirky and very British hour and fifty minutes. The casting is very good; Martin Freeman is a perfect choice for Arthur Dent although they have inevitably made him less cantankerous and more likeable than the character ought to be. American rapper Mos Def is a surprisingly good Ford Prefect, Zooey Deschanel is adorable as Trillian, Sam Rockwell is brilliant as Zaphod and Bill Nighy is a perfect Slartibartfast. Also, the voice of the book is Stephen Fry, of course it is.
The film is a 12 but personally I’d recommend for anyone 10 or above.
Saturday, BBC2, 11.05pm
This film cemented my adoration of director David Fincher, even more so than Se7en. It is the story of the real life hunt for The Zodiac Killer who was the basis for the film Dirty Harry (something that is very nicely handled here). The movie is right up there with investigation films like All The President’s Men and The French Connection and is a must watch for fans of films, crime thrillers and Robert Downey Jnr.
Tuesday, Film4, 6.30pm
A beautiful surreal animated film from deservedly celebrated Japanese company Studio Ghibli. By my mind this comes third behind their later films Howl’s Moving Castle and Arrietty but it is nonetheless simply breathtaking in it’s artistry and storytelling.
Parts of it could be a little disturbing for under 8s so make a decision based on the sensitivity of your offspring. I can’t really give you a comparison because believe me, there is nothing really you can compare it to.
Bringing Up Baby
Wednesday, BBC2, Midday
This is Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn at their most Cary Granty and Katherine Hepburny so really I shouldn’t have to say any more than that. It is a delicious screwball comedy the likes of which they simply don’t seem to be able to make anymore as recent films such as St. Trinians and Gambit demonstrate.
Thursday, Film4, 12.30am
I was a big fan of the original comic book so was very excited about this when it was released in the cinema four years ago. Zack Snyder last directed the film Sucker Punch which had some great fantasy action sequences but did insist on dressing its kick ass heroines in skimpy outfits. It was like having an uncle that did great magic tricks but who’s lecherous sexism was always a problem you couldn’t get past. Fortunately Watchmen is an interesting and subversive superhero film that does fill me with hope for Snyder’s upcoming Superman flick.
Be warned that Watchmen is not one for the Spider-Man lunchbox parade. It is violent and gritty but is driven by story rather than effects sequences.
Friday, BBC1, 4.55pm
This is one of Pixar’s best and that is certainly high praise. If you are a parent and you have somehow missed this film then you must catch it. Along with the state of the art computer animation there is some nice old fashioned story telling and this film is appealing to viewers of any age.
Friday, BBC2, 10.45pm
This just pips Zodiac to the position of Film of the Week. If you have seen Jennifer Lawrence in films like The Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class and were then surprised to see her win the Oscar this year then look no further for an explanation. Winter’s Bone is a beautifully shot film with a highly engaging mystery story and great performances, the best of which is from Lawrence. Sometimes it is nice to see a film with little foreknowledge or expectation so I will say nothing more than ‘just watch it’.
Son of Rambow
Friday, BBC1, 11.50pm
We started off with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and this film is by the same director, Garth Jennings. It is a smaller and cheaper affair and is more charming for it. Don’t be put off by the title, it isn’t a schlocky Rambo sequel but is actually a film about two school kids making a schlocky Rambo sequel. It is set in the 1980s so if you were a school kid yourself in the 1980s there are some great nostalgic touches but this film will be a rewarding experience for everyone.
It is a 12 and like Hitchhikers, I think it would be a good film for parents and over 10s to share.
This is a good week for films on BBC so look out for them on iplayer.
Also for adults (strictly not children) look out for Kill List and Adventureland on Sunday.