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Although online programming schedules were, at deadline last week, restricted to today, the film choice still remains as wide as it is good. The Also Rans include the BEST FILM OF THE WEEK (The Ship of Theseus, 7.30 am MaxW, not chosen because the subtitles for the Urdu may be in Spanish), and two other films that might have taken that title, a Best Foreign Film Oscar-winner (*The Artist, 6.45 pm FxCin) and arguably David Mamet’s best screenplay (Glengarry Glen Ross, 10.30 pm DTV). Apart from the top pick today also features two other hugely watchable and critically sound family films, a Jerry Seinfeld animated vehicle (Bee Movie, 2.20 pm FxFam) and what might be the most underrated family film of all time (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, 5.30 pm TCM), as well as the first Chris Nolan/Bale Dark Knight flick (Batman Begins, 1.05 pm HBOP), a decent Josh Brolin crime thriller (Labour Day, 10.30 am Fx1E) a decent Colin Firth drama (Railway Man, 12.10 noon and 3.10 pm Fx1E&W) and a modern young adult version of The Prestige or The Illusionist meets Inception (Now You See Me, 5.10 pm FxMvs).
Today’s best film:
Paddington (Paul King/2014/ UK-France/ Family-Comedy-Adventure-Animated/ 95 mins/ PG for mild action and rude humour), various times, MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, Chaguanas, Tobago. Watch this if you liked Babe, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, or The Adventures of Milo and Otis. There are kiddie movies—such as Finding Nemo, Up and The Incredibles—that are so good, grown-ups might like them; and there are other “kiddie” films that are really grown-up films kids can also enjoy, like the Shrek and Toy Story films. Paddington may be the best of the latter lot so far made, at least for West Indians who have left home: with frequent soundtrack appearances by a live calypso band (featuring lead vocals by Tobago Crusoe) singing kaisos by Lord Kitchener—London is the Place for Me, most aptly—Paddington is a comedy about a stuffed toy bear that is also a director-acknowledged allegorical indictment of English post-colonial immigration practice. It is also a first-rate action film in the vein of Indiana Jones and, often, a top-notch tip of the hat to Charlie Chaplin’s slapstick. This is a film that does what cinema ought to: transport the viewer to a flawless, credible and enthralling other world from which he or she emerges with great reluctance but even more greatly lifted spirits. Borrow a child to take to the cinema, if you have to, to make sure you see it on the big screen.
Juno (Jason Reitman/2008/USA/Teen-Romantic Comedy/ 96 mins/ PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content and language), 9.35 am Fox Comedy. Watch this if you liked Knocked Up, Sideways or Millions. Far, far better than any film condemned to classification under “Teen” and “Rom-Com” should be. A sparkling script and a simmering performance from Ellen “Hard Candy” Page—easily the best actress of her generation—make the perennially difficult topic of teenage pregnancy as enjoyable as it is touching. Not for children at all but very rewarding for open-minded grownups.
The Road (John Hillcoat/ 2009/ USA/ Drama-Sci-fi/111 mins/ R for some violence, disturbing images and language), 3.45 pm MaxPrime. Watch this if you liked Children of Men, Into the Wild or No Country for Old Men. The heartbreaking, hugely bleak, massively depressing but still, ultimately, optimistic Cormac McCarthy novel brought to life in all its post-Apocalyptic dreariness; like the book, the real success of the film is the love between father and son, though, thankfully, the movie is not nearly as devastating as the book. American critics, in their idiocy, compared this great film to the dreadful Book of Eli. It is far, far better, although the director softened the most awful part of the book, as anyone who’s both read it and seen it will attest.
*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months.
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