Recommended films on TV 6/2/21 to 12/2/21

FILM OF THE WEEK

Despite its title, Lady Macbeth (2016) is only remotely connected to the the Scottish play. It’s based on Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, a sensational 1865 novella by Nikolai Leskov, about a female murderer in provincial Russia who somewhat resembles Shakespeare’s character. Music lovers will know it as the source material for the Shostakovich opera that earned him the dangerous enmity of Josef Stalin.

As for the film, director William Oldroyd and writer Alice Birch stay true to Leskov’s period and most of his plot, but move the action to wild Northumberland. Young wife Katherine lives in an unhappy household with her older husband and his even older father. Then she meets a rough-hewn estate worker, sparks fly, and she takes her fate in her own hands. Florence Pugh is impressively flinty as the central character. It’s on BBC2 on Friday (12/2) at 23:20. 

World Cinema

Five notable World Cinema films this week. On Sunday (7/2) at 01:40, Film4 has Videoman (2018), a curious Swedish comedy-drama about a VHS collector who is on the track of a rare tape. He meets a woman obsessed with the 1980s and they form a relationship. Both are alcoholics. I’m not selling it to you, am I?

On Monday (8/2) at 00:00, BBC2 has The Odyssey (2016), a French biopic about Jacques Cousteau, the pioneering aquanaut and conservationist whom many of us will remember as a TV fixture in our childhoods. With Lambert Wilson, Pierre Niney and Audrey Tautou of Amélie fame.

On Tuesday (9/2) at 01:25, Film4 has White God (2015), a startling and brilliantly directed Hungarian allegory about dogs rebelling and overrunning a city. We came close to showing this in 2016 but some members of the viewing panel were disturbed by its (simulated) scenes of animal cruelty. Be warned. 

On Wednesday (10/2) at 01:55, Film4 has Black Mother (2018), an ambitious and sprawling documentary about Jamaica.

On Thursday (11/2) at 23:20, Film4 has the Finnish black comedy Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (2019), about a relationship between a man interested in auto-asphyxiation and a leather-clad dominatrix. Not a Disney production, despite its title. 

Stephen Ilott’s picks

On Monday (8/2) at 23:00 on BBC4, there is another showing of Hollywood’s Brightest Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017), a fascinating documentary about the starlet’s unsung skills as an inventor. At 20:00 the same night, Talking Pictures has The Deadly Affair (1967), a Sidney Lumet espionage drama staring James Mason, Maximilian Schell and Simone Signoret. A British agent tries to discover the truth behind the suicide of an official accused of being a Communist at Oxford.

Other modern films of interest

On Saturday (6/2) at 20:00, ITV2 has Skyfall (2012), with Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes and, particularly, Dame Judi Dench as M, whose relationship with Bond is central to the plot. At 23:20, BBC2 has In Fabric (2018), a bonkers Peter Strickland film about a department store and a red frock with murder in mind. It would be a considerable understatement to say views differed when we considered this for CFS. 

On Sunday (7/2) at 00:10, BBC1 has The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), starring Ryan Gosling as a motorcycle stunt rider who uses his skills to rob banks. A rookie cop, played by Bradley Cooper, tries to stop him. At 23:15,  Film4 has The Gift (2015), produced, written, starring and directed by Joel Edgerton. A young couple are menaced by an old High School acquaintance of the husband’s. 

 On Tuesday (9/2), two notable documentaries from Sky Arts. At 07:00, there is Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles (2019), telling the story of the creation of the Broadway classic Fiddler on the Roof. Then at 21:00 there is Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly (2019), about a huge work of art about prisoners of conscience, created remotely while he was under house arrest in China (also showing on Thursday at 01:00). At 23:15, Film4 has Snowden (2016), Oliver Stone’s biopic of the man who leaked the NSA’s secrets and is now a guest of Mr Putin. 

 On Friday (12/2) at 21:00, Sony Movies has Closer (2004), a story of two intertwangled couples, with a stellar cast of Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen. At 23:35, BBC1 has The Notebook (2004), a superior weepie starring Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. 

Oldies

On Saturday (6/2) at 16:35, and again on Friday (12/2) at 16:15, Film4 is showing The Pink Panther (1963). At 21:00, Talking Pictures has Black Sunday (1977), a John Frankenheimer drama about some terrorists trying to blow up a Goodyear blimp over a stadium packed with American Football fans. It can also be seen on Tuesday (9/2) at 21:00.

On Sunday (7/2) at 14:45, Sony Movies has Field of Dreams (1989). Kevin Costner builds a baseball field, again.

On Monday (8/2) at 13:15, Sony Action has The Tall T (1957), a Western starring Randolph Scott. It can also be seen on Friday (12/2) at 11:20. At 14:15, Talking Pictures has The Foreman Went to France (1942), an odd Ealing drama starring Tommy Trinder as an engineer who has to snatch some machinery from the invading Germans. According to the original poster, “The strangest love story of the war – and by far the most exciting”. 

On Tuesday (9/2) at 13:40, Talking Pictures has the delightful Hepburn/Astaire musical Funny Face (1957). We showed it in 2014/15 as part of The Paris Collection, our inaugural CFS Extra mini-season. 

On Thursday (11/2) at 15:00, Sony Action has Sahara (1943), a wartime movie with Humphrey Bogart leading some allied soldiers as they retreat across the Libyan desert following the defeat at Tobruk. 

All the BBC’s films are once more available on iPlayer.

Saturday Morning Pictures

The enterprising Talking Pictures is reviving the tradition of the children’s cinema clubs some of us attended in days of yore. To kick it off this Saturday (6/2), it has a packed programme, with something for children and adults of all ages: 

09:00 Popeye the Sailor: Ancient Fistory (1953)

09.10  Zorro’s Black Whip: Episode 1 (1944)

09.40  Cup Fever (1965)

10.55  The Lone Ranger: Enter the Lone Ranger (1949)

11.25  Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe: Episode 1 (1940)

11.50  Superman: The Mad Scientist (1941)

12.00  All Living Things (1955)

For those who are using CFS Online, there is still a chance to see the explosive Supernova, the run of which has been extended until 14 February. More details from yourscreen.net. 

John Morrish and Stephen Ilott