Culture Vulture (18-24 February 2023): our guide to the week’s entertainment

Selections by Henry Falconer and Pat Harrington. Music by Tim Bragg. Highlights this week include The Dangerous Rise of Andrew Tate, the Irish crime-comedy film Pixie and Red Elvis: The Cold War Cowboy.

Saturday 18th February, 2023

The French Connection (1971 Film) 11.15pm Talking Pictures

“The French Connection” is a 1971 crime thriller film directed by William Friedkin and based on a true story. The movie follows detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo as they attempt to dismantle a drug trafficking ring in New York City. The film stars Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, and Fernando Rey in leading roles.

One of the standout elements of “The French Connection” is the intense and realistic car chase scene, which remains one of the most famous in cinema history. The film’s gritty and raw style, along with its use of real-life locations and non-actors, creates a sense of authenticity that adds to the tension and suspense.

The performances are also a highlight of the film, particularly Gene Hackman’s portrayal of the rough-edged and determined detective Popeye Doyle. The film’s supporting cast also delivers solid performances, particularly Fernando Rey as the suave and sophisticated drug lord.

The pacing can be slow at times, and the characters are not particularly well-developed beyond their roles as police officers and criminals. Additionally, the film’s portrayal of the drug trade and its impact on society may not sit well with some viewers.

It’s a gripping and influential crime thriller that holds up today.

Gaslight 3pm BBC Radio 4

Atmospheric drama from Radio 4 and BBC Sounds, with bonus scenes, features Imelda May’s original music. The play is a modern adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 stage thriller, exploring the origins of the term ‘gaslighting’. The story is set in the present but has a vintage feel. It follows the tale of Jack Manningham, who has used his wife’s inheritance to buy a large period property – a former bell foundry – which they plan to renovate. Despite only occupying a small part of the building, they must navigate its neglected, gas-lit Victorian setting.

David Bowie, Love You Till Tuesday 10.20pm Sky Arts

Although the documentary was produced in 1969, it wasn’t widely released until 1984. This is an opportunity to see a fascinating glimpse into the early days of David Bowie’s career.

The film features a series of music videos and live performances showcasing Bowie’s experimental style and magnetic stage presence, as well as interviews with Bowie and those who knew him during his early years in the industry. “Love You till Tuesday” captures the raw talent and innovation that would make Bowie a legend in the world of music.

Sunday 19th February 2023

The Fault In Our Stars (2014 film) 7pm BBC3

“The Fault In Our Stars” is a heart-wrenching yet beautiful film based on the novel of the same name by John Green. The movie tells the story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who fall in love while battling cancer.

The performances by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who play Hazel and Gus respectively, are powerful and authentic, and their chemistry on screen is undeniable. The film does a great job of capturing the emotional rollercoaster that comes with dealing with illness and mortality, while still maintaining a sense of humor and hope.

While it is a tear-jerker, “The Fault In Our Stars” is not solely about sadness and tragedy. The movie also celebrates the power of human connection, the importance of love, and the value of making the most of the time we have. Overall, “The Fault In Our Stars” is a touching and unforgettable film that will leave a lasting impression on viewers.

I`m All Right Jack (1959 Film) 7pm Talking Pictures

“I’m All Right Jack” is a 1959 British comedy film directed by John Boulting and starring Ian Carmichael, Peter Sellers, and Terry-Thomas. The movie is a satire of British industrial relations, focusing on the antics of a naive young man who becomes caught up in a labor dispute.

One of the strengths of “I’m All Right Jack” is its sharp and witty script, which skewers both management and labor in equal measure. The film’s cast is also excellent, with Peter Sellers stealing the show in his multiple roles as a conniving union leader, a stuffy personnel manager, and a lecherous shop steward.

The film’s portrayal of British society in the late 1950s is also interesting, capturing the changing attitudes and social norms of the time. The film’s use of various accents and regional dialects adds to the authenticity and humor of the story.

However, the film’s humor may not be to everyone’s taste. Some of the jokes are dated or rely on stereotypes, and the film’s overall message may not resonate with modern audiences. Additionally, the film’s pacing can be slow at times, and the plot may feel convoluted to some viewers.

“I’m All Right Jack” is an entertaining and well-crafted satire that captures a moment in British history with humor and insight. While it may not be for everyone, it’s worth a watch for fans of classic British comedies and those interested in the social and political issues of the time.

Tony Hancock: Very Nearly An Armful 9pm Gold

Jack Dee presents a documentary about Tony Hancock. Also features Lucy Hancock, Kevin McNally, Diane Morgan, Neil Pearson, Clive Anderson and more.

Hancock`s Half Hour from 11pm Gold

Two colourised programmes are the acclaimed Hancock’s Half Hour episodes Twelve Angry Men and The Blood Donor, written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, originally seen on television in 1959 and 1961 respectively.

Monday 20th of February 2023

Surburbicon (2017 film) 11.15pm BBC2

“Suburbicon” is a crime comedy-drama film that tries to blend multiple genres but falls short of expectations. Directed by George Clooney and featuring an ensemble cast, including Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, the film takes place in a 1950s suburban community that experiences a break-in and subsequent murder.

While the film has its moments of dark humor and suspense, it ultimately fails to deliver a cohesive story. The plot is convoluted, with multiple storylines that never quite come together in a satisfying way. The attempts at social commentary also feel heavy-handed and forced.

Despite the strong performances by the talented cast, including a standout turn by Oscar Isaac in a supporting role, the movie never quite finds its footing. Overall, “Suburbicon” is a well-intentioned effort that falls short of its potential and may leave viewers feeling disappointed.

Analysis: From Brother To Other 8.30pm BBC Radio 4

How were Russians persuaded to support a war against their closest neighbour Ukraine?

A Private Function (1984 film) 9pm Talking Pictures

“A Private Function” is a delightful British comedy that was released in 1984. The film is set in post-World War II Britain and tells the story of a small town that is preparing for a lavish banquet to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. However, the country is still grappling with rationing and food shortages, and some of the town’s residents are determined to find a way to get their hands on some extra meat for the banquet.

The film is directed by Malcolm Mowbray and stars Michael Palin and Maggie Smith in the lead roles. Palin plays a hapless chiropodist named Gilbert Chilvers, who becomes embroiled in a scheme to steal a pig from a local farmer. Smith plays his domineering wife Joyce, who is desperate to make a good impression at the banquet and is willing to go to great lengths to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

The film is a charming mix of social satire and farce, with a witty script and strong performances from the cast. Palin is particularly excellent as the bumbling Gilbert, and his scenes with Smith are a highlight of the film. The supporting cast, which includes Denholm Elliott and Richard Griffiths, is also excellent.

Inside Russia: Traitors and Heroes 10pm BBC4

Two Russian filmmakers document the effects of the invasion of Ukraine on their country, despite the significant risks and obstacles involved. The conflict has led to the displacement of many thousands of people. Those who remain in the affected areas have been forced to consider their stance towards the war, whether to resist it, endorse it, or remain neutral.

Tuesday 21st of February 2023

The Devil’s Double (2011 film) 9pm GREAT!movies

“The Devil’s Double” is a gripping drama film based on the true story of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi soldier who is forced to become the body double of Saddam Hussein’s notorious son, Uday. Dominic Cooper gives a standout performance as both Latif and Uday, showcasing the stark contrast between the two characters.

The film is intense and at times disturbing, delving into the violent and corrupt world of the Iraqi ruling class. The cinematography and direction by Lee Tamahori create a visceral and claustrophobic atmosphere that heightens the tension and unease.

While the film takes liberties with the true story and may not be entirely accurate, it is still a powerful exploration of power, corruption, and the toll it takes on those caught in the middle. “The Devil’s Double” is a harrowing and unforgettable film that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

The Dangerous Rise of Andrew Tate 10pm BBC3

Taking viewers into the compound in Romania where he was recently arrested and speaking to women who allege abuse by him, journalist Matt Shea explores the dangerous rise of Andrew Tate.

Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over USA 10pm W

Stacey goes Stateside to meet folk with unusual lifestyles. This week she meets Lindsay, Ramsay and their daughter Autumn.

Thursday 23rd of February 2023

Red Elvis: The Cold War Cowboy 12.30am Sky Documentaires

“Red Elvis: The Cold War Cowboy” is a fascinating and entertaining documentary that explores the life and career of Dean Reed, an American singer, actor, and political activist who became a cultural icon in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries during the Cold War.

The film, directed by Leopold Grün and Sascha Weibel, traces Reed’s journey from his early days as a rockabilly performer in the United States to his decision to move to East Germany in the 1970s, where he became a star of the socialist music scene. Along the way, the documentary examines Reed’s political beliefs and his controversial decision to embrace socialism and become a citizen of the German Democratic Republic.

The film features interviews with Reed’s friends, colleagues, and family members, as well as archival footage of his performances and public appearances. The documentary does an excellent job of contextualizing Reed’s story within the broader political and cultural context of the Cold War, and it provides a compelling insight into the way that politics and culture intersected during this turbulent period in history.

Friday 24th of February 2023

Pixie (2020 Film) 9pm Film4

“Pixie” is a 2020 crime-comedy film directed by Barnaby Thompson and written by Preston Thompson. The movie follows Pixie, a young woman from Ireland who gets involved in a heist with a pair of charming but dangerous gangsters. The film stars Olivia Cooke, Alec Baldwin, Colm Meaney, and Ben Hardy in leading roles.

The plot of “Pixie” is fast-paced and filled with twists and turns, which makes for an entertaining watch. The cast delivers solid performances, with Olivia Cooke standing out in her portrayal of the titular character. Her Pixie is both tough and vulnerable, making her an interesting protagonist to root for.

The film’s visuals are also a highlight, with beautiful shots of the Irish countryside and slick action sequences. The soundtrack is also noteworthy, featuring an eclectic mix of songs that fit the film’s tone perfectly.

However, “Pixie” does have some flaws. The supporting characters are not fleshed out as well as they could be, and the film’s attempts at humor can sometimes feel forced. Additionally, the movie’s attempts at blending genres may not appeal to all viewers

Collateral (2004 film) 10.45pm ITV1

“Collateral” is a pulse-pounding thriller that features strong performances from its lead actors, Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. Directed by Michael Mann, the film takes place over the course of one night in Los Angeles, following a taxi driver named Max (Foxx) who unwittingly becomes a pawn in a contract killer’s (Cruise) mission to complete a series of hits.

The film’s intense pacing and gritty realism make for a tense and captivating viewing experience. Mann’s direction is masterful, and the film’s stunning nighttime visuals of Los Angeles add to the film’s immersive atmosphere.

Cruise gives a standout performance as the hitman, portraying a chilling and calculated killer with a surprising amount of depth. Foxx is equally impressive, delivering a nuanced portrayal of a man caught in an impossible situation.

Overall, “Collateral” is a thrilling and well-crafted film that delivers on both its action and character development. The film’s intense story, striking visuals, and strong performances make it a standout in the thriller genre.


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