Great Films on TV from Sat 23rd March 2013

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.

Spirited Away

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.

Winter’s Bone

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.


9 thoughts on “Great Films on TV from Sat 23rd March 2013

  1. Thanks Mark, I have a couple of these already waiting for me on the PVR where I’ve taped them before but not got to watch them yet. Especially like the look of Winters Bone, haven’t heard of it before…

    1. Winter’s Bone came out a couple of years ago to very little fanfare but it came on to my radar because a lot of the critics loved it. Jennifer Lawrence was actually nominated for an Oscar which raised it’s profile a little. I really hope you like it.

      1. Finally watched it last night and it was worth keeping. Not quite the American dream we see more readily portrayed, but so good I was telling someone else about the story this morning. Thanks for the recommendation, would have missed it otherwise 🙂

  2. I very much like the concept of this post as cinema visits have been few and far between for some time.
    Have set 3 or 4 to record – all of them new to me – except for Ratatouille (which I think Harriet is likely to enjoy).
    I did happen to spot that Unbreakable was on (at a similar time to Winter’s Bone). I’ve just seen it the once, in a kind of ‘I’ll watch this while I get things done’ kind of way, but I remember thinking it was a really nice, understated film – especially considering it has Mr Wilis and Mr Jackson in it.
    Not one of your recommendations, but then you definitely have a knowledge of film who’s breadth and depth puts mine to shame.
    I also see Godfather part 3 wasn’t one of your recommendations. That however is entirely understandable.

    1. Thank you again for your support of my little on line venture. I think I will do a TV post again as this one has proved really popular.

      Unbreakable is a great film, I’d missed that one.

  3. Can I just say, great shout on Zodiac. Much enjoyed this. And yes, it was very Se7en meets All the President’s Men (two very good films rolled into one). Started watching it last night. Put Toby down to after his late feed part way through and really wanted to keep watching (and did for a good while) – an impressive feat for any film to achieve with the father of a 5 week old. In the end, my brain put it’s foot down and I saved the final half hour until today.

  4. Have finally watched Winters Bone. There was a while where Natalie was going to watch it with me but we never really got going. Liked it a lot. Jennifer Lawrence was very impressive. Thanks for the recommendation.

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