Weekend Films to Stalk
Apologies for the lateness, it's been a busy weekend. Here are the films from UK Terrestial and Freeview television that caught my eye as I browsed through the TV guide, as well as the UK releases for this week in the Cinema.
This week I'm highlighting the films and TV worth watching with the Filmstalker hotdog award. Just like The Flying Scotsman and Paris, Je t'aime.
As always you don't have to have Freeview, or be going to the cinema or even be in the UK to take part in the discussion and have your say. This is really a look at some films that are interesting and enjoyable, and it's all about your opinions.
So have a read, discuss, disagree, and tell everyone what other films you'll be watching, or have already seen, this weekend.
Enjoy it...and remember, it's all about friends and family...
22:20 - 00:35
ITV2: Out of Sight
I actually liked this film, the relationship between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez is played really well, the story is good, and there's plenty of style. It's pretty enjoyable and high up on both actors film lists. The story is from an Elmore Leonard novel about a bank robber who escapes from jail and takes a gorgeous US Marshall hostage, and somewhere in there there's a pretty big attraction between the two.
23:00 - 00:00
Five: The Shield
I know it's not a film, but the series most definitely does carry the feel of a feature and deserves to be on the big screen. The characters are fantastically written, as are the real situations, steeped in greys for there are no black and whites here, and even the bad guys are sympathetic. I can't tell you how great this series is and I've been hooked since episode one. I can honestly tell you that when I saw the trailer last week for the shows return, a huge smile spread across my face and I was engrossed, my heart already thumping in anticipation.
23:10 - 01:25
Film4: The Big Lebowski
I am going to admit to something, I haven't seen this film. I know for some of you that sounds like a crime, after all this film is rated highly, but I have a surprise for you. The people you are reading and trusting about films may not have seen the films they're talking about, even when they say they have. I haven't seen Big Lebowski, despite being told and reading all about it and repeatedly being told to watch it. I will one day. The Coen brothers film is highly regarded, it's about time I did see it!
23:45 - 01:40
BBC2 Scotland: Boys Don't Cry
Although I've not seen this either I've heard enough that suggests this is Hilary Swank's best moment on screen, I personally think that the leading moment is Million Dollar Baby, but for that reason this film deserves a watch. The film one many awards and really propelled Swank to the fore. The story is based on a true one of Brandon Teena, a transgendered teenager who preferred life as a male until it was discovered he was born biologically female.
14:15 - 16:10
STV: Mission to Mars
There's a great cast to this film including Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins and Don Cheadle, the film is also directed by Brian De Palma, and yet something doesn't quite work here. There's plenty to work with though, and it really escapes me what went wrong. It's been a while since I saw it, but I did love some of the aspects of the story, and it was filmed well, but it just seemed to fall short. When the first manned mission to Mars enounters a sudden and mysterious disaster, a second mission is despatched to find any survivors.
18:10 - 20:25
STV: The Mummy
To hell with the sequel that drops the Mummy storyline to date, the leading lady Rachel Weisz, and the location of Egypt, this film is what it's all about. Brendan Fraser, John Hannah and Arnold Vosloo play superbly along with Weisz in this family action adventure that ticks all the boxes. An action orientated American accidentally brings a powerful Mummy back to life and a deadly prophecy is set in motion...although not that deadly since it's a family film too!
18:55 - 21:00
Film4: Jack & Sarah
Richard E Grant stars as a man whose wife dies during childbirth and is totally devastated. Only through his daughter can he start to find a new life, and with a new nanny played by Samantha Mathis, he begins to find something of a new life. Judi Dench and Ian McKellen also star. You know this film is sad and bittersweet, and at times it is formulaic, yet at others it's surprisingly fresh and turns towards realism. I love some of the character relationships, and Grant and McKellen are great fun to watch, as are the parents. It's a lovely story that will tug the heartstrings.
21:00 - 21:55
BBC1 Scotland: Jekyll
The third episode in the six part mini-series from Douglas Mackinnon and Matt Lipsey, Mackinnon being the Director of a film you must see this weekend, The Flying Scotsman (Filmstalker review). This show is taking the Jekyll and Hyde story and pulling it into the modern world, it's also adding some amazingly clever twists to the whole idea of two people inhabiting one body. It carries a strong style to the show and looks in the same league as a CSI or Lost, with clever turns, slow reveals and subtle changes yet carrying strong comic moments too. It's a great series and it'll be interesting to see how Lipsey carries it through the final three episodes. The show also stars Michelle Ryan, the Bionic Woman, and Denis Lawson turning in performances almost as good as the superb James Nesbitt.
21:00 - 23:25
Five US: Bram Stoker's Dracula
Will this ever become a classic of the Dracula films? Francis Ford Coppola's interpretation of the classic vampire story by Bram Stoker, where Dracula comes to the shores of England in search of the reincarnation of his long dead love. Starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins, Richard E Grant and Sadie Frost, it gives some great performances. I love uttering that line "I have travelled oceans of time to be with you". It's wonderfully filmed and well hammed up from all apart from Reeves!
22:00 - 00:00
Channel 4: A Man Apart
Vin Diesel had a great shot at being an action star and a serious actor, and yet somewhere along the way his career plans have fallen a little, however there are still some good films behind him, and from accounts A Man Apart isn't that bad. It tells the story of a DEA Agent who, after imprisoning the major drugs baron finds that the baron's replacement tries to murder his wife. So he heads out for revenge and enlists the help of the imprisoned and now usurped drugs baron. It stars Timothy Olyphant, currently the baddie in Die Hard 4.0.
22:30 - 00:50
ITV4: End of Days
I'm not embarassed to say that I'm a huge fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and to pair him up against Gabriel Byrne as the Devil himself is just perfect. The excellent and underrated Kevin Pollak, CCH Pounder, Udo Keir, there's some great names in the film, and I think it's one of Schwarzenegger's best. Great effects, huge story, and a fantastic advesary in Byrne. What's even better is that Schwarzenegger plays a hugely flawed hero, a human hero, that has to fight his disbelief to better himself, save himself, and the rest of the world from the end of days.
22:45 - 00:40
I've always been a fan of Bill Paxton, but never really seen anything he's directed, which isn't surprising as the list isn't that long. Frailty however, has been billed as a very strong horror film in which he also stars. A man tells the FBI that his brother is a hunted serial killer, driven by his father's religious visions. Through flashbacks we see the troubled childhood that led one of the brothers to love their father and the other to hate him. It also carries a great cast, Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton and Powers Boothe.
23:05 - 01:15
More4: The Devils
Ken Russell's controversial film that stars Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed headline this film based on the Aldous Huxley novel. It's an interesting film with some strong performances, and raises many questions about the time and religious justice. At the same time it is beautifully shot and contains some very strong scenes, even to this day. It's one of those films that you really should see in your cinema going life, whatever you've heard or think of Russell.
00:00 - 01:35
BBC2 Scotland: Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky makes films that are remembered that's for sure, and the one that is perhaps remembered the most is Requiem for a Dream. The film is a harrowing tale, a really dark and depressive one, but it's also a very fulfilling and telling tale of drugs and lives gone out of control. Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly star, and Connelly gives one hell of a performance.
14:15 - 16:20
Classic John Wayne action as he joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war. Who is there better than Wayne as an iconic hero in Hollywood?
19:05 - 21:00
Film4: The Return of the Musketeers
I love these Musketeer films, I grew up on their adventure and fun and everything since has been a poor copy. This is one of their many outings directed by Richard Lester and starring Michael York as D'Artagnan, Oliver Reed as Athos, Frank Finlay as Porthos and Richard Chamberlain as Aramis. There's also other names such as Kim Cattrall, Roy Kinnear - another staple of the Musketeer films - Philippe Noiret, even Christopher Lee and Billy Connolly. Forget The Mummy and such, for me this is the series that really made me love action, adventure and comedy.
20:00 - 21:55
Five: The Forgotten
Let's face it, this film is handled pretty badly, and I'm not even mentioning the stupendously idiotic way that Five have handled the trailer, giving away a huge part of the story. Julianne Moore is amazing, I think she's a wonderfully believable actress, and the film also stars Anthony Edwards, Gary Sinise and Dominic West. However some of the subtleties of the film are mishandled and when you should be confused about the woman's sanity and being drawn to her with sympathy and confusion. Yet the story puts too much into pointing you one way and not trying to pull you back. So we lose quite a bit of the effect, but there are still some very clever moments in the whole film.
21:00 - 23:15
Film4: Stealing Beauty
Another film I've never seen is Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty with Jeremy Irons, Liv Tyler, Joseph Fiennes and Sinead Cusack, which tells the story of a beautiful nineteen year old who heads to Italy after her mother commits suicide to find answers to her mother's death, to find an old love she once knew, and to have her picture painted. Often spoken about I've never really seen the film and yet it keeps getting spoken about.
22:00 - 00:15
ITV4: End of Days
00:10 - 02:20
BBC2 Scotland: Kill Bill: Vol 2
I'm confused, when was the first part on TV? If it was on this weekend or last then I must have missed it. Sometimes I wonder if Quentin Tarantino is overrated, if he's riding on the wave of doing things a little more in your face, and on the strength of a few films and key moments. However then those thoughts are thrown away when we seen films such as Kill Bill. That said I'm not so sure how well the second film holds up against the first, it's strong, but it pads out moments and I feel cheapens slightly the strength that the character Bill is built up to be. Despite that, it's still a great film with some superbly cinematic moments.
00:15 - 03:10
ITV4: The Insider
Unusually the films are heading into the early morning of Monday this weekend, first with The Insider, a film from the superb Michael Mann that has Russell Crowe doing something he doesn't actually do a lot of, acting! Christopher Plummer, Al Pacino and Philip Baker Hall also star in the film about a research chemist who reveals some inside information on the Tobacco industry, and then finds his life under personal and professional attack. Superb performances and wonderfully directed, and highly acclaimed.
01:00 - 03:45
Film4: A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick created most of the fuss about this film himself. As the first few screenings happened in the UK there were some violent scenes outside the cinema, so Kubrick withdrew the film and it remained self-banned for some time. Seeing it now I don't really understand why it could be viewed as the cause, after all this is just a mirror for society as we know it. Still, it is a strong and powerful film that can be quite upsetting. Malcolm McDowell takes the lead of a gang who commit ultra-violence, however he is caught and subjected to some new treatment that should change him for the better, but not all goes to plan. It's a stunning film and a wonderful work of cinema. It's a shame it came under so much flak. This is cinematic history.
A Hindi film from Director Mohit Suri. Unfortunately I don't know much more about it.
The Flying Scotsman (Filmstalker review)
I can't talk about this film enough. There's a Q&A coming up with the Director Douglas Mackinnon where he talks about the film, about his new series Jekyll, and about being a Director. However, The Flying Scotsman is in cinemas across Scotland this weekend and I have to say that this and Paris Je T'Aime are the films to go and see right now, forget the stretched out formula of Shrek, go and see this wonderful story of the cyclist Graeme Obree fighting against all odds to realise his dreams. It's a fantastic tale, and it's a Scottish story too. Oh, and Johnny Lee Miller, Brian Cox, Billy Boyd and the lovely Laura Fraser star. Go and see it!
The Golden Door
Also known as Nuovomondo, this is an Italian about a poor Italian farmer who emigrates to the US with his family and while they are waiting to embark they meet Lucy, a British woman who wants to come to the States. She proposes to the farmer on the boat, he accepts, and they try and get through the immigration tests at the hands of the hands of the customs officers.
Hostel: Part II
The sequel to Hostel comes to the big screen, and this time there's a bigger and better organisation behind the disppearances of backpackers in Eastern Europe. Instead of me though, the prizes are high on women this time around, and the film looks more at the people behind the rubber aprons. Harrowing and uncomfortable, I'm dying to see what this film is like, the first Hostel (Filmstalker review) had me very freaked out. You can shove your genre label, there's more to this film than you'd like there to be, and quite frankly I love being scared.
Les Petites Vacances
A grandmother takes her grandchildren on a holiday without telling their parents, and as the holiday gets longer and longer she has to begin avoiding being discovered and it begins to seem more than just a simple holiday.
Paris Je T'Aime (Filmstalker review)
This is a wonderful film that as much as The Flying Scotsman, will touch your heart and make you feel the warmth, bittersweet and sometimes sad feelings that are brought with love. The film features twenty great Directors bringing eighteen stories about love and Paris to the big screen. The segments are short, but can be incredibly powerful and touching. Not only is the film filled with great Directors, Writers and a host of actors from all over the world, and brings wonderful stories, but it also shows how inredibly effective such a short piece of cinema can be.
Shrek the Third
What is there really to say about this film, more of the same, stretching out the existing story and adding more and more characters into the film, diluting what the original was all about. Still, as I've seen said, it's still one of the better CGI films out there, but I do feel it is starting to lose the shine it once did.
Shut Up & Sing
Over here the story about The Dixie Chicks didn't really affect us as much, but when you hear what happened you do tend to realise just how far from the Constitution the United States really is. There's a part of it that says something about Freedom of Speech, and yet when one of the Dixie Chicks made an anti-George Bush comment at one of their concerts they were hounded and their careers almost ruined, just because they expressed their opinion. Freedom of speech? Watch the documentary and see.
Shutter (Filmstalker review)
I saw this at Dead by Dawn this year and thought it was a good Asian horror, not the best, but good. There are some superbly crafted and scary moments, yet there are a few moments that let the film down, however they are few and far between. The rest of the film is a pretty good horror film that will scare you. It's due for a Hollywood remake to be released in a few years so it would be worth seeing it now.
Sketches Of Frank Gehry
Sydney Pollack directs this documentary about the life and work of the architect Frank Gehry.
When A Woman Ascends The Stairs
Otherwise known as Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki, this is the story of a middle aged geisha who has to choose whether to get married or to buy a bar of her own and build a business. Her family are chasing her for money while her customers demand her attention. Throughout the film the life of a geisha is examined and their hard life brought to the fore.