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Today: blood, sweat and tears of laughter

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Properly into Lent and the New Year’s resolution of cable and DirecTV to show great films remains, well, resolute. Today’s Also Rans include a dark thriller that proves Ryan Goodlooking can act (The Place Beyond the Pines, 1.40 pm MaxP), an HIV-bio proving Matthew McChest & Shoulders can do the same thing (Dallas Buyers Club, 6.45 am Fx1), a lovely little Ken Loach film based on premium scotch (The Angel’s Share, 5.30 pm MaxW), the best thriller BC on TV has seen since The Silence of the Lambs (*Prisoners, 9 pm FxAct), a chance to see the first of the best comic book film trilogy ever made (Batman Begins, 7.45 pm MaxP), one of the great guitar players of our age discussing his art (Jeff Beck Talks Music, 9 pm DTV) and Hollywood celebrity show-off that is almost as hilarious as it is self-indulgent (This is the End, 9 pm MaxP). 

By sheer good programming luck, one of the highlights of last year's T&T Film Festival is being specially screened locally. It deserves its extra place at the top of today's list of picks.

Today's best film: Art Connect (Miquel Galofré/ 2013/ T&T/ Documentary/ 90 mins/ All ages), 5 pm today, Monday and Tuesday, Digicel Imax Theatre, Port- of-Spain, BEST FILM OF THE WEEK. Watch this if you liked Searching for Sugar Man, We Are Marshall or Invictus. Spanish filmmaker Miquel Galofré has adopted the Caribbean. His other films (Songs of Redemption [with Amanda Sans Pantling], Hit Me with Music and Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast?) were high points of earlier T&T Film Festivals and this film was one of the very clear, very high points of last year’s festival: it won both the Jury Prize for Best T&T Feature Film and the People’s Choice Best Documentary. Where Songs of Redemption focused on bad Jamaican men—it was shot in the Jamaican prison—Art Connect chooses, as its subjects, children hovering on adolescence in Port-of-Spain’s best known “deprived” neighbourhood, Laventille. Unlike most documentaries about or involving children, though, the director trusted his subjects enough to make them part of the creative process itself: each child was given a movie camera, and their own footage constitutes some of the documentary’s most powerful moments. This is a film that would send shivers up the spine if you watched it on a mobile phone; if you miss one of the remaining three chances to see it on the Digicel Imax screen, you should return your decision-making powers; you clearly have no use for them.

42 (aka 42: The Jackie Robinson Story) (Brian Helgeland/ 2013/ USA/ Biography-Drama-Sport/ 128 mins/ PG-13 for thematic elements, including language), 5.30 pm today MaxPrime. BEST FILM OF THE WEEK. Watch this if you liked The Hurricane, Invictus or The Blind Side. Looking back from the age of an American president Americans would call black, it’s hard to remember, sometimes, that the Civil Rights Movement was in near full swing a scant half-century ago. This remarkable biography of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the colour bar in US baseball, is a beautifully made reminder of how ugly the time was—and how strong the individual, Jackie Robinson, was, to stand alone against the baseball world. Touching to the point of poignancy in parts, distressing to distraction in others, excellent throughout, this is as good as real life biography gets; even if the liberal might worry about a feel-good element threatening to creep in and pass itself off as pride. Exceptional.

Today and rest of the week: Saw (James Wan/ 2004/ USA/ Horror-Suspense/ 102 mins/ R for strong, grisly violence and language), 8.06 pm Sunday Paramount. Watch this if you liked A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist or The Shining. Few horror films are as good as James Wan’s debut. Saw combines gruesome, sometimes shocking visual effects with masterful direction and genuinely surprising plot twists to deliver a gripping film that, at best, is breathtakingly good and, at worst, never goes for the skull crush ahead of the spinal chill. It deserves to be named with the real groundbreaking horrors, such as The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Shining, Jaws, Halloween, Ringu and The Birds. Recommended with a racing heart for adults with strong constitutions, and with the reservation that, after part two, the sequels literally lost the plot.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Joe Johnston/ 1989/ USA/ Comedy-Family-Adventure/ 93 mins/ G), 1 pm Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, The Incredibles or Fantastic Voyage. Not a literary worth by the farthest stretch of the most fertile imagination and completely lacking in the star power voices that make, say, Shark Tale, so enjoyable for adults as well as kids—indeed, it’s got a genuine wimp in the lead in Rick Moranis—but, still, a lot more fun for Mom and Dad than even the most sneering sceptic might think. There is also far more genuine adventure in this little film than in, say, the super-budget sequels to Jurassic Park. If you’ve not seen it, your kiddie-winks will appreciate your real interest in what is really not a bad movie at all.

*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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