FILM OF THE WEEK
Apostasy (2017) is a modest British film that takes us inside the closed world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, not in a gawping, sensationalist way but with sympathy and understanding. A debut by writer/director Daniel Kokotailo, based on his own history as a member of the faith, it features the struggles of three women locked together as they attempt to navigate the demands of their beliefs in the contemporary world. Daughter Alex (Molly Wright), who suffers from anaemia, has had a life-saving blood transfusion as a child but refuses further treatments an adult. With her elder sister Luisa (Sacha Parkinson), Alex attends a college in Oldham to learn Urdu so she can preach to the local community. But then Luisa begins a relationship with a Muslim boy that causes her to be shunned within the church. When tragedy strikes Alex, the girls’ mother, Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran), encourages Luisa to reach an accommodation with the elders.
The film benefits from three exceptional performances and a tightly controlled palette of muted colours, in keeping with the austerity of the faith, bereft as it seems to be of innocent joy. Apostasy is on BBC2 on Saturday (24/10) at 22:00 and subsequently on iPlayer.
On Sunday (25/10) at 01:20, Channel 4 has A Fantastic Woman (2017), an excellent film by Sebastián Lelio, which we showed in 2018/19. A transsexual nightclub singer in Santiago, Chile, struggles with the death of her partner.
Videoman (2018) is something of an unknown quantity. A Swedish comedy-horror, it tells the story of two alcoholics obsessed with the 1980s who go in search of a valuable VHS tape. That’s on Film4 on Wednesday (30/10) at 01:40. Later the same night, at 02:05, Channel 4 is showing another in its Indian series. Hamid (2018) tells of a seven-year-old boy in Kashmir who, in search of his missing father, dials 786, which he is told is God’s number. Instead of Allah, he gets an officer in the Indian paramilitary police, and they strike up a friendship.
On Friday (30/10) at 02:50, Channel 4 has Rafiki (2018), a thoughtful Kenyan film about a romance between two young girls. Gay sex is punishable by 14 years in jail in Kenya. At 23:20 the same day, Film4 has Train to Busan (2016), a Korean action horror about a train battling through a zombie apocalypse. Excellent stuff if you like that sort of thing.
Stephen Ilott’s picks
On Sunday (25/10), Stephen has picked What We Do in the Shadows (2014), a very funny mockumentary written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. It tells the story of a group of vampires who live together in a flat in a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand. That’s at 00:30 on BBC2 and subsequently on iPlayer. On Tuesday (27/10), he has chosen The Lady From Shanghai (1948), an odd noir thriller directed by and starring Orson Welles, with Rita Hayworth as the femme fatale. That’s on Sony Action at 09:30. On Wednesday (28/10) at 16:30 on Film4, he has chosen The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), directed by Hitchcock and starring James Stewart and Doris Day, who sings ‘Que Sera, Sera’. On Friday (30/10), he has chosen Hell Drivers (1957), on Talking Pictures at 17:50. A British noir thriller about lorry drivers, believe it or not, starring Stanley Baker, Herbert Nom, Peggy Cummins and Patrick McGoohan.
Other modern films of interest
Two notable music films on Sky Arts on Saturday (24/10). At 02:00, there is The Apollo (2019), a documentary about the venue in Harlem, famous for jazz and soul. At 20:00 there is Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records (2018), a portrait of the label which pioneered ska and reggae in the UK. At 21:00, 5 Star has Cape Fear (1991), Martin Scorsese’s stalker thriller with Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange. At 23:20, Channel 4 has the excellent Moonlight (2016), about a young black man growing up surrounded by violence and struggling to reconcile it with his sexuality.
On Sunday (25/10) at 13:20, ITV2 has Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), his ingenious animated fantasy about a young bridegroom-to-be pursued by another young woman from beyond the grave. At 22:00 the same day and subsequently on iPlayer, BBC2 has Loving (2016), the story of a young couple in 1960s Virginia who are arrested for their interracial marriage and begin a legal battle that takes them to the Supreme Court.
Red Dragon (2002), starring Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, is a prequel to the better-known The Silence of the Lambs. Red Dragon is on 5 Star on Wednesday (28/10) at 23:00. Not as good as the Brian Cox version, Manhunter (1986).
On Thursday (29/10) at 01:15, Film 4 has Mother! (2017), in which a young couple in a remote house are menaced by the arrival of mysterious strangers. Apparently written by director/writer Darren Aronofsky in five days.
On Friday (30/10) at 21:00, Sony Movies has Green Zone (2010), with Matt Damon as a a US army officer hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Directed by the sometime documentary maker Paul Greengrass.
A Star is Born has been made four times. On Saturday (24/10) at 13:10, BBC2 has the 1954 version with Judy Garland and James Mason. It is also showing on BBC4 on Thursday (29/10) at 20:00, and will be available on iPlayer.
On Sunday (25/10) at 23:40, and again on Monday (26/10) at 21:00, ITV4 has Get Carter (1971), directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine as a gangster who returns to his native Newcastle and gets involved in all sorts of violent mayhem.
The Prisoner (1955) has nothing to do with Patrick McGoohan and a killer balloon. It’s a drama starring Alec Guinness as a Cardinal being interrogated for treason against the communist rulers of an Eastern European state. That’s on Sony Action on Tuesday (27/10) at 14:55.
On Wednesday (28/10) at 00:50, Talking Pictures has Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), a supposed comedy-drama about a failed artist succumbing to mental illness.
On Thursday (29/10) at 08:15, Talking Pictures has Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), based on the legend, with Ava Gardner and James Mason in the lead roles. At 14:55 the same day, Film4 has Pursued (1947), a kind of Western noir starring Robert Mitchum and Teresa Wright.
On Friday (30/10) at 07:35, Sony Action has The Reckless Moment (1949), a suspenseful melodrama, directed by Max Ophüls and starring James Mason and Joan Bennett. At 11:40 the same day, Taking Pictures has Penny Serenade (1941), a somewhat sentimental romance about a couple (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) remembering happier times. At 13:00, Film4 is showing Millions Like Us (1943), a wartime British drama about a young woman called up for factory work. Finally, at 17:00, Sony Action has The Sand Pebbles (1966), with Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough on a mission to rescue missionaries caught in the 1920s Chinese revolution. And that’s all for another week.