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Early Eddie in a great role

Sunday, January 26, 2014
Eddie Murphy in his first leading role: Beverly Hills Cop.

Today’s also-ran section includes a Sam Peckinpah Western that almost made the cut (Major Dundee, 3.40 pm Enc3), last week’s second pick (Django Unchained, 5.05 pm HBO, again Tuesday 5 pm HBOC) and a strong, different Holocaust film (In Darkness, 6.35 pm Max). A stronger runner-up category in the week includes last Sunday’s top pick (*The Deer Hunter, BEST FILM OF THE WEEK 10 pm Tuesday, and again 4.45 pm Wednesday TCM), the week’s next best film (Another Year, 9 pm Friday Max), and one each of Hitchcock’s (North by Northwest, 3 pm Friday TCM), Ron Howard’s (Cocoon, 3.20 pm Thursday TCM) and Spike Lee’s (Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth, 9 pm Wednesday HBOC) best films.


Today’s best film: Beverley Hills Cop (Martin Brest/1984/Action-Comedy-Crime/USA/105 mins/R), 4.25pm Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked Trading Places, Pineapple Express or Oceans Eleven. Eddie Murphy’s first lead feature and fourth film role remains a contender for his best, with the most serious challenge coming from his first role (in 48 Hrs). It generated two sequels relying on the main reason for its success, which, certainly by III, it had lost: Murphy’s own delight in and enjoyment of his formidable talent infects everyone that watches it. Audiences cheer for him, not Alex Foley. This is Eddie Murphy Delirious, not Raw, before his strange and engaging innocence was lost, and it reminds us all why we loved him as a human being, and resent his transformation into a celebrity. The film itself is immaculately paced, packed with action and explosive with laughs. A real treat.


Today and rest of the week: The Breakfast Club (John Hughes/1985/ Comedy-Drama/USA/ 97 mins/R), 10 pm tonight and again 6.15 pm tomorrow Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Probably the late John Hughes’ best and certainly his most enduring film, even the idea for the Breakfast Club was as good as the one for the Canterbury Tales: a group of misfits at an American high school spend a Saturday together in detention and get to know one another. You could criticise it for its white America-ness—and it’s white American in spades, as it were—as many critics still do, or you could relax and enjoy one of the most solid youth films ever shot in North America. The Mean Creeks, Easy A’s and Junos of today stand firmly on its shoulders.


*Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (Alex Gibney/2012/ UK-USA/Documentary/106 mins/Not rated but deals with paedophilia) 6 pm Friday HBO. Watch this if you liked Doubt, The Stoning of Soraya M or Rabbit-Proof Fence. Not the kind of film that’s ever going to be recommended by your parish priest, Mea Maxima Culpa is an extremely well-researched documentary setting out how carefully, deliberately—and how very hard—the Catholic church worked to protect paedophile priests instead of the children they ruined; and, through some of the best journalism ever, how that protection went to the very top: the Pope himself. It makes the blood boil cold. If you watch this and remain Catholic, you care more about the politics of the afterlife than the torture of the helpless in this one.



Best of the rest: Mon: Life, Above All, 5.10 pm Max; Tues: *Anonymous, 7.40 pm Max; Wed: Think Like a Man, 10 pm HBOC; Thurs: Horrible Bosses, 9 pm HBOC; Fri: The Last Station, 9 pm HBOC; Sat: Field of Dreams, 6 am TCM.


*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months. Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.


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