By Ross Miller
Not quite sure what to go to see at the cinema? Nothing really on that you fancy seeing? No need to worry as there’s plenty of good films on TV to stay in for. Here’s our guide to some of the best films on telly over the next week.
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
This gleefully over-the-top horror comedy comes from Sam Raimi, director of the legendary Evil Dead trilogy. It follows a young bank loan officer (Alison Lohman) who finds herself under a supernatural curse after she turns down a seemingly innocent old woman for a loan. It walks the line between horror and comedy with expert precision and is demented fun from start to finish.
When and what channel is it on? Monday March 31st, 9pm, 5star
Little Children (2006)
An adaptation of the equally brilliant book by Tom Perrotta, this beguiling and deeply compelling drama stars Kate Winslet as a bored housewife who starts an affair with a neighbour, played by the ever-reliable Patrick Wilson, while the community deals with the arrival of a registered sex offender (played by Jackie Earle Haley). It’s an unsettling but fascinating look at what bubbles away under a seemingly perfect suburban life and it was nominated for 3 Oscars including Best Actress for Winslet and supporting actor for Haley.
When and what channel is it on? Tuesday April 1st, 12:15am, Channel 4
Battle Royale (2000)
You’ve probably heard the comparisons between the hugely successful Hunger Games franchise and this, a blisteringly violent Japanese social satire about a group of school children who are forced to fight to the death against the clock on a remote island, with explosive collars around their neck to keep them in check. It caused a lot of controversy when it came out and it’s not hard to see why; its shock value is only matched by its enjoyability.
When and what channel is it on? Tuesday April 1st, 1:20am, Film 4
Fast Five (2011)
It’s not very often that the 5th film in an action franchise, especially one such as this which is about muscled men driving fast cars, to be the best one but that’s exactly the case with Fast Five. It has its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek throughout and its blend of the franchise’s usual high-octane driving with an Ocean’s Eleven-esque caper mixes things up for the better. The franchise is still going with a 7th film on the way, despite the recent tragic death of star Paul Walker, but this remains its high point thus far.
When and what channel is it on? Wednesday April 2nd, 9pm, Film 4
A History of Violence (2005)
Canadian director David Cronenberg used to be the master of body horror with the likes of The Fly, Videodrome and Scanners but in recent years he’s turned his hand to a different sort of filmmaking. A History of Violence started off his new phase with a menacing bang. Featuring shocking moments of extreme violence that’s bound to make even the most hardened of moviegoers wince, it’s not always an easy watch but features a palpable sense of atmosphere and great performances from Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris and William Hurt.
When and what channel is it on? Thursday April 3rd, 10:45pm, Film 4
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
The most recent instalment in the Jack Ryan franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, was released in cinemas at the start of this year but it was not able to match this 1990 classic starring Alec Baldwin as the analyst-turned-hero and Sean Connery as the Russian submarine captain who may or may not be an enemy of the USA. Taking place mostly in the confines of the titular submarine, it’s a tense action-thriller that keeps you guessing.
When and what channel is it on? Friday April 4th, 10:10am, More 4
Michael Clayton (2007)
Winning Tilda Swinton her first Oscar, this is a deliberately paced mystery thriller that also stars George Clooney as a “fixer” for a large company who is brought in to remedy a very tricky business situation involving an old friend. It’s an expertly judged film that slowly draws you in with its atmosphere as it looks at corruption and power at the highest levels.
When and what channel is it on? Friday April 4th, 11:05pm, BBC 2
Rat Race (2001)
Essentially a remake of the 1963 film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, this anarchic comedy about a group of people racing each other to a location in order to win a $2 million cash prize features a massive cast of famous faces including John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Cuba Gooding Jr. and many more. It’s very silly stuff but enjoyable if you just go along with it. Fans of zany comedy should definitely check this one out.
When and what channel is it on? Saturday April 5th, 1:25pm, More 4
There’s Something About Mary (1998)
The Farrelly Brothers have been releasing some not very good films as of late (to put it mildly) but back in the late ‘90s they made a cultural splash with this seminal comedy about a man who gets a chance to date his high school beauty despite other men vying for her affections. It contains some of the funniest and most iconic comedy scenes of the ‘90s, including a trouser zipper accident that will make particularly the men out there wince just as hard as they’re laughing.
When and what channel is it on? Saturday April 5th, 9:00pm, E4
The Guard (2011)
In 2008 Michael McDonagh wrote and directed the hilariously dark crime comedy In Bruges and evidently that comedic darkness runs in the family as his brother John made this, an equally dark film about an unorthodox, foul-mouthed Irish policeman. Featuring a hilarious central performance from Brendan Gleeson offset against Don Cheadle as a visiting and far more straight-laced FBI agent, it’s not for the easily offended but it’s a must watch for those who like their humour of the jet black variety.
When and what channel is it on? Saturday April 5th, 11:10pm, Channel 4
The Faculty (1998)
Alternatively, if you’re after something more horror inflected on Saturday night then there’s Robert Rodriguez’s high school-set sci-fi flick, which centres on a group of students who start to notice that something is suddenly very wrong with the eponymous school faculty. Some of its special effects don’t hold up 15+ years on but it remains a whole load of fun, as much for the guessing game surrounding who may not be who they say they are as for the over-the-top sci-fi elements.
When and what channel is it on? Saturday April 5th, 11:20pm, ITV 2
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock remade his own 1934 film in superior fashion, this time starring James Stewart as the head of a family vacationing in Morocco who stumbles upon an assassination plot. In true Hitchcock fashion it’s full of twist, turns and iconic scenes, not least of which is a moment towards the end of the film featuring an orchestra conducted on-screen by the Master of Suspense’s regular musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann.
When and what channel is it on? Sunday April 6th, 7pm, BBC 4
The Grey (2011)
This action thriller focuses on a plane crash in the middle of the harsh Alaskan wilderness. Led by a skilled huntsman (Liam Neeson), the surviving group of men try to survival the elements while being hunted by a vicious group of wolves. This is an intensely thrilling journey but one that’s surprisingly deep and moving along with it. Come for the “Liam Neeson wolf-punching,” stay for the existential look at human survival.
When and what channel is it on? Sunday April 6th, 9:00pm, Channel 4
April sees the release of Richard Ayoade’s 2nd feature film The Double but he made his debut a few years ago with this quirky and utterly charming tale of young love. Ayoade was clearly influenced by the likes of Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach here but he manages to create his very own brand of the idiosyncratic. Aside from the witty script and appealing performances, it features an absolutely wonderful soundtrack by Arctic Monkeys front-man Alex Turner that will stay with you longer after you’ve seen the film.
When and what channel is it on? Sunday April 6th, 11:20pm, Film 4