Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (11th to 17th March 2023)

Every week we bring you our entertainment guide. Please consider subscribing on YouTube and other platforms.

Selections are by Henry Falconer and Pat Harrington. Music is by Tim Bragg. Highlights this week include: the 2019 film, Mr Jones, the BBC radio programme Breaking Mississippi about James Meredith and The Holy Land and Us: Our Untold Stories.

Saturday 11th of March 2023

The Ipcress File (1965 film) 1.30pm BBC2

“The Ipcress File” is a classic spy thriller film from 1965, directed by Sidney J. Furie and starring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, a British intelligence agent tasked with uncovering a mysterious brainwashing plot.

The film has a gritty, realistic feel that sets it apart from other spy movies of its time. Caine’s performance as Palmer is superb, with his dry wit and unflappable demeanour adding to the film’s appeal. The storyline is complex and well-crafted, with plenty of twists and turns that keep the audience guessing until the very end.

The production design and cinematography are also standout features of the film, with the use of harsh lighting and unglamorous locations giving it a distinctive look and feel. The soundtrack, composed by John Barry, is iconic and perfectly captures the mood of the film.

“The Ipcress File” is a must-see for fans of spy thrillers or Michael Caine’s work. It’s a stylish and suspenseful film that stands the test of time and remains a classic of the genre.

Funeral In Berlin (1966 film) 4.05pm BBC2

“Funeral in Berlin” is a classic spy thriller film from 1966, directed by Guy Hamilton and starring Michael Caine as British intelligence agent Harry Palmer. It is the second film of a Cold War double bill, alongside “The Ipcress File,” broadcast earlier on BBC2.

The film is set in Berlin during the height of the Cold War and follows Palmer as he attempts to extract a defecting Soviet intelligence officer from East Berlin. The storyline is complex and engaging, with plenty of action, suspense, and intrigue to keep the audience hooked.

Michael Caine once again delivers a strong performance as Harry Palmer, bringing his trademark dry wit and cool demeanor to the role. The supporting cast is also excellent, with notable performances from Paul Hubschmid as the defecting Russian officer and Oskar Homolka as a cynical British intelligence officer.

“Funeral in Berlin” is a great addition to the spy thriller genre and a worthy follow-up to “The Ipcress File.” However, it is unfortunate that the world seems to be sleepwalking back into competing political blocks, as the themes of the film remain relevant today.

Hughie Green: The Rise and Fall of Mr Saturday Night 9pm Channel 5

Hughie Green: The Rise and Fall of Mr Saturday Night is a biographical drama film released in 2019, directed by Paul Seed and starring Toby Stephens in the lead role. The film tells the story of Hughie Green, a British television presenter and producer who rose to fame in the 1960s and 70s before falling from grace in the 1980s.

The film is a gripping and powerful portrayal of a complex and often controversial figure, with Stephens delivering a nuanced and sympathetic performance as Green. The film explores Green’s early years as a struggling performer, his rise to fame as the host of popular television shows like Double Your Money and Opportunity Knocks, and his eventual downfall due to a series of personal and professional scandals.

The film is beautifully shot and expertly paced, with a script that balances humor, drama, and tragedy in equal measure. It offers a fascinating insight into the world of British television in the second half of the 20th century, and the personalities and power struggles that defined it.

Sunday 12th of March 2023

My Fair Lady (1964 film) 1pm Channel 5

“My Fair Lady” is a beloved musical film from 1964, directed by George Cukor and starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller who is transformed into a lady by Professor Henry Higgins, played by Rex Harrison.

The film is based on the stage musical of the same name, which was adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion.” It features memorable songs such as “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” which have become classics of the musical theatre canon. The songs were not sung by Hepburn but dubbed by Marni Dixon.

Audrey Hepburn delivers a delightful performance as Eliza, bringing both charm and vulnerability to the role. Rex Harrison is also excellent as the arrogant, chauvanistic, but ultimately lovable Professor Higgins, and the chemistry between the two leads is a highlight of the film.

The production design and costumes are lavish and colorful, adding to the film’s charm and sense of whimsy. The musical numbers are expertly choreographed and executed, with standout performances from the entire cast.

Mr Jones (2019 Film) 10pm BBC2

“Mr Jones” is a gripping drama film that delves into the story of Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who becomes the first person to bring to light the famine and brutal regime of Joseph Stalin in 1930s Ukraine. Directed by Agnieszka Holland, the film stars James Norton as Jones, Vanessa Kirby as Ada Brooks, and Peter Sarsgaard as Walter Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who denies the existence of the famine and covers up Stalin’s crimes.

The film does an excellent job of portraying the horrors of Stalin’s regime and the bravery of Jones in trying to expose them. The cinematography is beautiful, with stunning shots of the Ukrainian countryside and cities. The performances are strong, with Norton delivering a compelling portrayal of a man who is willing to risk his life to reveal the truth.

“Mr Jones” is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged film that sheds light on an important historical event. It highlights the importance of a free and independent press and the dangers of authoritarianism and propaganda. Highly recommended for anyone interested in history or political drama.

Monday 13th of March 2023

Breaking Mississippi: James Meredith 9.45am BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds

The inside story of James Meredith’s war against racial segregation in 1960s America – an explosive flashpoint in civil rights history that draws in both the KKK and JFK.

Every weekday until Friday 24th.

Shock and War: Iraq 20 Years On 1.45pm BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds

Gordon Corera re-examines the secret information used to justify theIraq War. Every weekday until Friday 24th.

Paula (one of two) 9pm Channel 4

I (Patrick) always found Paula Yates to be a strong, vivacious woman who was sadly often defined in the UK press only in terms of the men in her life such as Bob Geldof and Michael Huthchence. This is her story and it certainly is time it was told. I’d advise you watch the Hughie Green documentary on Saturday before this for greater understanding.

Witches of Salem (one of four) 9pm Sky History

The Salem witch trials, a harrowing event in the history of an affluent New England community, begins with this episod, “Satan Comes to Salem.” Mark Strong guides us through a true-life horror story where young teenage girls are unjustly accused and convicted by the shadowy adults who lurk in the background. Through extensive research of historical documents and court records, this series brings to life the hysteria that unfolded, resulting in the execution of 20 women.

Elizabeth (1998 film) 11.25pm Film4

Elizabeth is a historical drama film released in 1998, directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Cate Blanchett in the titular role. The film is based on the early years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, depicting her rise to power in a world dominated by men.

The film is beautifully shot, with stunning costumes and sets that transport the viewer back to the 16th century. Blanchett delivers a powerful performance as Elizabeth, capturing both her vulnerability and her strength as she navigates the treacherous waters of court politics and religious conflict. The role led to her first Oscar nomination.

The supporting cast is also excellent, with standout performances from Geoffrey Rush as Elizabeth’s adviser Sir Francis Walsingham, and Joseph Fiennes as Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s childhood friend and potential suitor.

Elizabeth is a gripping and visually stunning film that offers a fascinating glimpse into the early years of one of England’s most iconic monarchs.

Tuesday 14th of March 2023

Skinner and Mina`s Literary Road Trip: Pope and Swift 8pm Sky Arts

Frank Skinner and Denise Mina follow in the footsteps of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, two of the most brilliant humourists in the history of literature and discover how they created a new wave of British satire which still influences comedians and writers today.

The Holy Land and Us: Our Untold Stories 9pm BBC2

Rob Rinder and Sarah Agha delve into the profound and deeply moving impact that the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 had on their families’ histories, as well as the stories of others.

Call Me By Your Name (2017 film) 11.40pm Film4

Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age romantic drama film released in 2017, directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in the lead roles. Set in the summer of 1983 in northern Italy, the film tells the story of a passionate romance that develops between a 17-year-old boy named Elio and a 24-year-old graduate student named Oliver.

The film is visually stunning, with breathtaking cinematography that captures the idyllic Italian countryside and the sun-drenched beauty of the characters. Chalamet and Hammer both deliver standout performances, with nuanced and heartfelt portrayals of their complex characters. The screenplay won an Oscar.

The film explores themes of first love, sexual awakening, and self-discovery in a sensitive and thought-provoking way. It is a poignant and emotionally resonant film that stays with the viewer long after the credits roll.

Wednesday 15th of March 2023

The Elephant Man (1980 film) 12.05am BBC2

The Elephant Man is a biographical drama film released in 1980, directed by David Lynch and starring John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, and Anne Bancroft. The film tells the true story of Joseph Merrick, a severely disfigured man who becomes a sideshow attraction in Victorian-era London before being rescued by a kind doctor who attempts to integrate him into society.

The film is a masterpiece of both storytelling and filmmaking, with stunning black-and-white cinematography that captures the bleakness and brutality of Victorian London. John Hurt gives a powerful performance as Merrick, conveying the character’s intelligence, sensitivity, and deep humanity despite his physical deformities.

The film explores themes of human dignity, compassion, and the meaning of beauty in a society that values physical perfection above all else. It is a deeply moving and thought-provoking film that challenges the viewer to question their own assumptions about what it means to be human.

Thursday 16th of March 2023

The Harlem Hellfighters’ Great War 7.30pm PBS America

“The Harlem Hellfighters’ Great War” on PBS America is an insightful and powerful documentary that sheds light on the often-overlooked contribution of African-American soldiers in World War I. Through engaging storytelling and archival footage, the documentary brings to life the struggles and triumphs of the Harlem Hellfighters, a regiment of African-American soldiers who fought with distinction in France

Friday 17th March 2023

Phil Lynott: Songs for When I’m Away 9pm BBC4

“Phil Lynott: Songs for When I’m Away” is a touching and intimate documentary that explores the life and legacy of the iconic musician and frontman of Thin Lizzy. Through never-before-seen footage and candid interviews with Lynott’s family, friends, and fellow musicians, the documentary offers a revealing and poignant glimpse into the man behind the music.

24 Hour Party People (2002 film) 1.40am Film 4

24 Hour Party People is a biographical comedy-drama film released in 2002, directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Steve Coogan in the lead role. The film tells the story of the rise and fall of the Manchester music scene from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, with a particular focus on Factory Records and its founder Tony Wilson.

The film is a wild and irreverent ride, with a quirky and unconventional style that perfectly captures the anarchic spirit of the music and the times. Coogan delivers a brilliant performance as Wilson, imbuing the character with a mix of charm, arrogance, and sheer audacity.

The film is packed with memorable scenes and hilarious moments, but also manages to convey a deeper sense of the cultural and social significance of the music and the movement that it portrays. It is a film that celebrates the power of art and music to change the world, even in the face of adversity and opposition.


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