Mr Jones (2019 film)

This is a superb and deeply moving film – and at the same time one of the most depressing I`ve seen for a very long time. Produced by a Polish film company, it is the true story of Gareth Jones, a brilliant Welsh student from a humble background who read Russian at Cambridge but who was denied a posting at the Foreign Office (presumably because, unlike Philby, Burgess, McLean and their friends, was not “one of us”). Instead he was recruited by his fellow Welshman the former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, to act as his adviser on foreign affairs. In this capacity Jones made a name for himself by securing an interview with the aspiring young German politician Adolf Hitler.

As a young man, Jones was a great admirer of Stalin, believing that Soviet Communism was the way forward for the progress of humanity. Using his connection with Lloyd George, Jones travelled to Moscow in 1931 hoping to secure an interview with Stalin himself. He failed, but in the course of his visit he encountered a cadre of western journalists sympathetic to the Soviet experiment, most prominently Walter Duranty, the correspondent in Moscow for the “New York Times”. Intrigued by rumours of a famine in Ukraine, Jones, suspicious of a ban preventing journalists from travelling there, managed to defy the ban in order to see for himself. What he found was truly horrifying and the film pulls no punches. A starving population in the countryside, bodies piled up in the streets, when all the while the plentiful supplies of grain were being transported to the cities in order to feed the workers delivering Stalin`s Five Year Plans. This man-made famine, known in Ukraine as the Holodomor, resulted in the deaths of up to 5 million people whilst all the time Duranty and his colleagues were filing denials to their readers in the West. Duranty was even awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 – never rescinded despite being totally discredited once the truth was revealed many years later.

When Jones returned to Britain he was accused of fabricating his account of what he had seen. Stalin had many admirers on the Left who regarded Hitler, not unreasonably, as the real enemy. In their view any attack on the Soviet system amounted to pro-German propaganda. Discredited in the eyes of progressive opinion, Jones undertook a journalistic assignment in Mongolia in 1935 where he was murdered by bandits. It later transpired that the guide assigned to protect him was a Stalinist agent. But there was some ultimate vindication. He had become acquainted with Eric Blair (George Orwell) on his return and is credited with being one of the inspirations for “Animal Farm”.

A post-script. The rehabilitation of Stalin in modern Russia is obviously an insult to the now-independent Ukraine, equally obviously compounded by the current invasion. Not unreasonably, Putin is seen as a re-incarnation of Stalin

Reviewed by Henry Falconer

Agnieszka Holland
Andrea Chalupa
James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard
2 hours 21 minutes

Poster by IMP Awards, Fair use,


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Culture Vulture: Your guide to the week’s entertainment (25th to 31st of March 2023)

Highlights this week include the classic 1947 film Brighton Rock, Hendrix and the Spook and the 2010 film The Whistleblower. Selections by Pat Harrington, music is by Tim Bragg.

Saturday 25th of March 2023

Brighton Rock (1947 film) 6.50pm Talking Pictures

Brighton Rock is a classic film noir from 1947, directed by John Boulting and based on the novel by Graham Greene. The film is a gripping and atmospheric crime thriller that takes place in the seaside town of Brighton, England.

The story follows Pinkie Brown (Richard Attenborough), a young gangster who is on the run after committing a murder. Pinkie is ruthless and ambitious, and will stop at nothing to protect himself and his gang from the law. When he meets a naive waitress named Rose (Carol Marsh), Pinkie sees an opportunity to use her as an alibi and keep his tracks covered. However, things get complicated when Rose becomes infatuated with Pinkie and refuses to leave his side, leading to a dangerous game of deception and betrayal.

The film is expertly shot and captures the gritty and seedy atmosphere of Brighton in the 1940s. The performances are also exceptional, with Richard Attenborough delivering a chilling and convincing portrayal of Pinkie, and Carol Marsh bringing a fragile and vulnerable quality to her role as Rose. The supporting cast is also strong, with standout performances from Hermione Baddeley as the brassy and streetwise Ida, and William Hartnell as the loyal and tragic Spicer.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is its exploration of the themes of guilt, morality, and redemption. The characters are complex and flawed, and their actions have far-reaching consequences that are explored in depth throughout the film. This adds depth and nuance to the story, elevating it from a standard crime thriller to a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant work.

The MI5 Spy and the IRA: Operation Chiffon 7pm BBC2

Peter Taylor, an acclaimed BBC journalist, has recently uncovered an extraordinary tale of a former MI5 agent who took a bold and risky move to persuade the IRA to abandon violence and embrace politics. This agent, known only as Robert, had been running a highly confidential channel of communication between the UK government and the IRA leadership for several years. His daring actions, which remained a closely held secret for thirty years, proved to be a crucial factor in the negotiations that ultimately led to the historic Good Friday Agreement.

Sunday 26th March of 2023

The Soviet Union 100th Anniversary 1922 6.25pm PBS America

The Soviet Union was established in 1922 as a one-party state governed by the Communist Party. Despite being a political experiment and an ideal, it inflicted immense destruction on its own people in the name of progress. The sheer size of the country, stretching from Moscow to Vladivostok and Leningrad to Stalingrad, made governance difficult. Complicated and contradictory figureheads led the country, including Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev, each with their own flaws and contributions. Over the years, the Soviet Union became increasingly isolated, repressive, and economically uncertain, casting a large shadow on the world. Its tumultuous history shaped the 20th century, with convulsions, purges, wars, and leaders leaving a lasting impact.

Glass (2019 film) 11.10pm Film4

Glass is a 2019 psychological thriller film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and it serves as a conclusion to his trilogy that began with Unbreakable in 2000 and Split in 2016. The film brings back the characters from the previous two movies, with David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) from Unbreakable and Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde (James McAvoy) from Split.

The movie picks up where Split left off, with David Dunn now known as the vigilante “The Overseer” hunting down The Horde. Meanwhile, Mr. Glass, who has been institutionalized for years due to his extreme intellect and his destructive actions, manipulates both The Overseer and The Horde to achieve his own ends. The three characters eventually come together in a highly anticipated showdown that tests their abilities and beliefs.

The acting in Glass is superb, with all three lead actors delivering strong performances that showcase their characters’ complexities and inner conflicts. James McAvoy, in particular, shines as he portrays multiple personalities in The Horde, seamlessly switching between them and showcasing his range as an actor.

The film’s plot is intricate and layered, with twists and turns that keep the audience engaged and guessing until the very end. The themes of identity, purpose, and the nature of heroism are explored in depth, adding depth and nuance to the story.

Monday 27th of March 2023

The Whistleblower (2010 film) 11.35pm GREAT! movies

The Whistleblower is a 2010 drama film based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer from Nebraska who worked as a United Nations peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. The film follows her journey as she uncovers a sex trafficking ring involving high-ranking officials and fellow UN peacekeepers.

Rachel Weisz stars as Kathryn Bolkovac, and her performance is both powerful and emotional as she portrays a woman determined to do the right thing despite facing immense opposition and danger. The supporting cast, including Vanessa Redgrave and David Strathairn, also deliver solid performances, adding depth and authenticity to the story.

The film is a harrowing look at the brutal reality of sex trafficking and the corruption that enables it. The scenes depicting the abuse of young girls are difficult to watch but are necessary to drive home the seriousness of the issue. The cinematography and direction are effective in conveying the bleakness of the situation and the feeling of hopelessness that pervades the story.

One of the strengths of the film is its ability to show the impact of Kathryn’s actions not only on the victims of the sex trafficking ring but also on Kathryn herself. She faces retaliation and threats from her colleagues and superiors, and the toll it takes on her personal life is evident. The film does not shy away from the emotional toll of speaking out against injustice, and this adds a layer of authenticity to the story.

The Whistleblower is a powerful and important film that sheds light on a disturbing issue and the corruption that enables it. It is a sobering reminder of the importance of speaking out against injustice, even when it comes at great personal cost. The performances and direction are excellent, and the film is highly recommended for those interested in social justice issues and true stories of courage and perseverance.

Tuesday 28th of March 2023

On Assisgnment 10.55pm ITV1

Reporter James Mates travels to Portugal to meet campaigners on both sides of a controversial new euthanasia law. Elsewhere, Dan Rivers travels to Alice Springs in Australia to ask why so many feel the country continues to fail its indigenous population and whether a proposed referendum on introducing a permanent Indigenous Voice to Parliament might be one step towards righting long-standing wrongs.

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Glenda Jackson Remembers… Elizabeth R 10pm BBC4

Double Oscar winner Glenda Jackson remembers the role that brought her back to television after the huge success she had found on the big screen.

Thursday 30th of March 2023

Tutankhamun: Allies an Enemies (one of two) 8.15pm PBS America

Episode 1 commemorates the centennial of King Tut’s tomb opening by exploring the mysteries of his life and burial. Egyptologist Dr. Yasmin El Shazly and Photographer Mahmoud Rashad meet with historians and scientists to inspect historical inconsistencies.

Friday 31st of March 2023

Hendrix and the Spook 7.30pm Sky Arts

On the 18th September 1970 rock superstar Jimi Hendrix died in London. The coroner’s report declared an open verdict on the cause of his death, it could be suicide, it could be murder. Hendrix and The Spook discovers with exclusive interviews and unseen archive footage who may have benefitted from his death, most notably his manager and British spy Mike Jeffrey and his girlfriend Monika Dannemann.

Tutankhamun: Allies an Enemies (two of two) 8.25pm PBS America

Episode 2 uncovers further mysteries behind King Tut’s life and burial. Egyptologist Dr. Yasmin El Shazly and Photographer Mahmoud Rashad continue their journey, seeking to answer some of the historical inconsistencies surrounding this great civilization.

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

Welcome to Culture Vulture which gives an alternative view on the week’s entertainment. Highlights this week include: Breaking Mississippi on BBC Radio 4 about the struggle for civil rights in that State, the politically charged film Official Secrets and the BBC documentary Inside Taiwan Selections are from Henry Falconer and Pat Harrington. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Saturday 18th of March 2023

Chocolat (2000 film) 6.35pm GREAT! movies

“Chocolat” is a 2000 film directed by Lasse Hallström and based on the novel of the same name by Joanne Harris. Set in a small French village in the 1950s, the film tells the story of Vianne Rocher (played by Juliette Binoche), a young single mother who arrives in town and opens a chocolate shop. The arrival of Vianne and her unconventional ways causes a stir among the conservative townspeople, particularly the mayor, Comte de Reynaud (played by Alfred Molina), who sees her as a threat to the town’s moral values.

One of the strengths of “Chocolat” is its cast. Juliette Binoche delivers a charming performance as Vianne, imbuing the character with a sense of warmth and whimsy that makes it easy to root for her. Alfred Molina is equally impressive as the stern and humorless Comte de Reynaud, who gradually comes to appreciate Vianne’s influence on the town. The supporting cast is also strong, including Judi Dench as a cantankerous but wise grandmother, and Johnny Depp as a mysterious and charismatic traveler who catches Vianne’s eye.

The film’s cinematography is another highlight, with beautiful shots of the French countryside and the mouth-watering chocolate creations on display in Vianne’s shop. The use of color is also noteworthy, with Vianne and her daughter dressed in bright, vibrant clothing that stands out against the muted tones of the rest of the town.

At its core, “Chocolat” is a story about the power of acceptance and the importance of being true to oneself. The film’s message is delivered with a light touch, never becoming preachy or heavy-handed. Instead, it invites the audience to embrace the joys of life and the simple pleasures that can bring people together.

“Chocolat” is a delightful and heartwarming film that is sure to leave viewers with a smile on their face. With its talented cast, beautiful cinematography, and charming story, it is a movie that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. Highly recommended

Edward the eigth: Britain`s Traitor King 7.45pm C4

“Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King” is a thought-provoking television program that tells the fascinating story of Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite, in 1936. The documentary is a well-researched and beautifully produced program that sheds light on the turbulent reign of Edward VIII and the impact of his actions on the British monarchy and the country as a whole.

The program provides a detailed account of Edward VIII’s early life, his relationship with Wallis Simpson, and his controversial decision to abdicate. It also delves into the political and social context of the time, with interviews with historians and experts providing valuable insights into the complex circumstances that led to the abdication crisis.

What sets this documentary apart from others on the same subject is the level of detail provided in the storytelling. The program takes viewers on a journey through Edward’s life, exploring his relationships with his family, his rise to the throne, and the events leading up to his abdication. The use of archival footage and historical re-enactments is particularly effective in bringing the story to life and immersing viewers in the era.

Aretha Franklin Duets 9.30pm BBC2

Elton John, Gloria Estefan, Smokey Robinson, PM Dawn, Bonni Rait and Rod Stewart share a stage with the Queen of Soul.

Sunday 19th of March 2023

Breaking Mississippi 9.45am and every day this week. BBC Radio 4

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.

Shock and War: Iraq War 20 years on 1.45pm and every day this week. BBC Radio 4

Why did the US and UK really go to war in Iraq? And what is the legacy? The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera speaks to those at the heart of the decision-making.

The Great Inflation 1923 8pm BBC Radio 4

1923 was the year of hyperinflation in Germany. Allan Little examines how the trauma which followed has shaped the economy and politics of Germany and beyond for 100 years.

Calm With Horses (2019 film) 11.50pm Film4

“Calm With Horses” is a gritty and intense 2019 film directed by Nick Rowland and based on a short story by Colin Barrett. Set in rural Ireland, the film tells the story of ex-boxer Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong (played by Cosmo Jarvis), who works as an enforcer for a local drug dealer named Dympna (played by Barry Keoghan). As he struggles to balance his loyalty to Dympna with his desire to provide for his young son, Jack, Arm finds himself caught in a dangerous web of violence and betrayal.

One of the strengths of “Calm With Horses” is its cast. Cosmo Jarvis delivers a powerful performance as Arm, conveying the character’s inner turmoil and vulnerability with nuance and depth. Barry Keoghan is equally impressive as Dympna, a charismatic but unpredictable figure who exerts a powerful hold over Arm. Niamh Algar is also noteworthy as Ursula, a nurse who forms a connection with Arm and Jack.

The film’s cinematography is another highlight, with beautiful shots of the rugged Irish landscape and the bleak, claustrophobic interiors of the local pubs and drug dens. The use of light and shadow is particularly effective in conveying the film’s dark and moody atmosphere.

At its core, “Calm With Horses” is a film about the corrosive effects of violence and the desperate measures that people will take to protect those they love. The film’s themes are delivered with an unflinching honesty that is both powerful and unsettling.

However, “Calm With Horses” is not for the faint of heart. The film contains scenes of brutal violence and intense psychological trauma that may be difficult to watch for some viewers. While these elements serve to heighten the film’s tension and realism, they may be too much for some audiences.

Monday 20th of March 2023

1945: The Savage Peace 9.45pm PBS America

This documentary explores the little-known aftermath of World War II in Eastern Europe. The film examines the brutal and chaotic period of ethnic cleansing, mass rape, and revenge killings that followed the end of the war, revealing the devastating consequences of this forgotten chapter of history. With powerful archival footage and eyewitness accounts, “1945: The Savage Peace” is a gripping and informative exploration of a pivotal moment in world history.

Philomena (2013 film) 11.45pm BBC1

“Philomena” is a heart-wrenching 2013 film directed by Stephen Frears and based on the true story of Philomena Lee (played by Judi Dench), an Irish woman who spent decades searching for the son she was forced to give up for adoption as a teenager. The film follows Philomena as she teams up with journalist Martin Sixsmith (played by Steve Coogan) to uncover the truth about what happened to her son and the nuns who took him away from her.

One of the strengths of “Philomena” is its cast. Judi Dench delivers a powerhouse performance as Philomena, capturing the character’s quiet strength and resilience in the face of adversity. Steve Coogan is also impressive as Martin, adding a touch of humor and cynicism to the film’s otherwise somber tone.

The film’s cinematography is another highlight, with beautiful shots of the Irish countryside and the grandeur of Washington, D.C. where Philomena and Martin eventually travel to uncover the truth about her son. The use of flashbacks to Philomena’s past is also effective, helping to flesh out her character and add depth to the film’s emotional core.

At its core, “Philomena” is a film about the enduring power of love and the devastating effects of institutional abuse. The film’s themes are delivered with a quiet but devastating intensity that is both poignant and thought-provoking.

However, “Philomena” is not without its flaws. Some viewers may find the film’s pacing slow, and the film’s handling of the Catholic Church’s role in Philomena’s ordeal may feel heavy-handed to some.

“Philomena” is a moving and thought-provoking film that showcases the talents of its cast and crew. While it may not be for everyone, it is a must-see for those who appreciate emotional and socially conscious cinema.

Tuesday 21st of March 2023

Official Secrets (2019 film) 10.40pm BBC1

“Official Secrets” is an intense and politically charged film directed by Gavin Hood, which focuses on the true story of Katharine Gun (portrayed by Keira Knightley), a British intelligence specialist who leaks a memo to the press revealing a U.S. plot to spy on United Nations diplomats in the lead-up to the Iraq War. The movie delves into the consequences of her actions and the implications of a government that prioritizes national security above all else.

The film’s strength lies in its political subject matter, which offers a thought-provoking commentary on the importance of speaking truth to power and the moral dilemmas faced by those who seek to expose government wrongdoing. With a gritty and immersive visual style, the cinematography captures the tension and uncertainty of the story’s political climate, while archival footage and news reports from the time add a sense of realism and urgency to the film’s narrative.

Despite its impressive cast, which includes powerful performances from Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes, and Rhys Ifans, “Official Secrets” may not be for everyone. The film’s heavy reliance on dialogue and complex plot may require multiple viewings to fully appreciate. However, for those who appreciate politically charged and intellectually stimulating cinema, “Official Secrets” is a must-see film that delivers a timely and urgent message about the importance of accountability and transparency in government.

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Elle (2016 film) 12.50am Film 4

“Elle” is a daring and unsettling 2016 film directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Isabelle Huppert as Michèle Leblanc, a successful businesswoman who is raped in her own home by an unknown assailant. The film follows Michèle’s unconventional response to the trauma, as she seeks revenge and navigates the complex relationships in her life.

One of the strengths of “Elle” is Isabelle Huppert’s stunning performance as Michèle. She brings an icy detachment to the character, conveying Michèle’s strength and vulnerability with equal intensity. Huppert’s performance is complemented by Verhoeven’s confident direction, which is unafraid to explore the film’s darker themes and push the boundaries of conventional storytelling.

The film’s cinematography is also impressive, with striking visuals that capture the film’s voyeuristic and unsettling tone. The use of dark humor and satire adds a layer of complexity to the film’s narrative, challenging viewers to consider the implications of their own perceptions and biases.

At its core, “Elle” is a film about power dynamics and the complex psychology of victimhood. The film’s themes are delivered with a subversive and uncompromising intensity that is both challenging and thought-provoking.

Thursday 23 March 2023

Inside Taiwan: Standing Up To China 9pm BBC2

Taiwan is at the heart of a struggle between two nuclear powers – China and the United States – and there are fears it will become the next global conflict. President Xi Jinping insists Taiwan is part of China and must re-unify with the motherland. But Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, says the island is already independent and must maintain its freedom and democracy.

Scandal: Jeffrey Archer and the Call Girl 9pm Channel 5

From his court action against The Daily Star after the newspaper accused him of paying off a prostitute who claimed to have slept with him, to his mayoral run, to his notorious trial for perjury and his eventual imprisonment, the scandals are endless.

Friday 24 March 2023

Stalin – Inside the Terror 11.05am, 4.30pm and 8.50pm PBS America”Stalin – Inside the Terror” is a gripping and deeply informative documentary that provides a chilling insight into one of the most brutal periods in Soviet history. The program delves into the psyche of Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953, and examines how his paranoid and ruthless tactics led to the deaths of millions of people.

The program is divided into several parts, each focusing on a different aspect of Stalin’s reign of terror. It examines the purges of the 1930s, the show trials of the 1940s, and the gulags, the notorious Soviet prison system where millions of people were sent to die. The documentary uses archival footage, interviews with historians, and re-enactments to bring the story to life and paint a vivid picture of the horror and suffering that occurred during this period.

What sets this documentary apart is its willingness to go beyond the surface-level portrayal of Stalin as a brutal dictator and explore the psychological and emotional factors that drove his actions. The program examines the impact of Stalin’s traumatic childhood and his relationship with his mother, as well as the paranoid delusions that led him to view anyone who opposed him as an enemy of the state. These insights into Stalin’s character and motivations make the program a fascinating and deeply disturbing study of one of the most infamous figures in world history.

However, it is important to note that the documentary can be difficult to watch at times due to the graphic nature of the violence and the harrowing testimonies of survivors. It is not a program for the faint of heart or those with a low tolerance for disturbing content. Additionally, while the documentary provides a comprehensive overview of Stalin’s reign of terror, it is not a substitute for a thorough understanding of Soviet history and the political and social context of the time.

“Stalin – Inside the Terror” is a powerful and enlightening documentary that offers a detailed and nuanced perspective on one of the darkest periods in Soviet history. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of the Soviet Union or the psychology of authoritarianism.

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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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Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder (till the 1st of May 2023)

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

Since its inception in 1963, Doctor Who has been a science fiction icon, a show that has transported audiences through time and space. However, what many fans might not realize is that the show has a history of featuring science and technology that has later become fact. As the exhibition notes say, “Doctor Who has always celebrated the creative, limitless possibilities of technology. And in some areas of research, the real world is catching up fast. Ideas that were once pure sci-fi dreams are the focus of real science, right now.”

The exhibition is a treasure trove of creative ideas and associations. It is very good at linking Doctor Who themes and plots with scientific developments. For example, human cloning is featured in the 1965 episode “Galaxy Four”, and cyborgs with high-tech prosthetic limbs and bionic eyes are a regular occurrence.

The exhibition makes clear that Doctor Who was ahead of its time in dealing with environmental issues. For instance, the 1964 episode “Planet of the Giants” deals with a callous industrialist named Forester (Alan Tilvern) and his ecologically damaging insecticide called DN6. In more recent episodes like “The Waters of Mars” (2009) and “Thin Ice,” (2017) the show has continued to explore climate change and environmental destruction head-on.

Doctor Who has also tackled pandemics and infectious diseases in episodes like “The End of the World” (2005) and “The Girl Who Died” (2015). The show’s writers have always had a knack for using science fiction to explore real-world problems, and this has continued throughout the show’s long history.

But Doctor Who hasn’t just been ahead of its time in terms of technology and issues. The show has also featured robots who are both friendly, such as Kamelion from 1983, and unfriendly, such as the organic/robotic Daleks, which were introduced in 1963 and the robotic posties in “Kerblam!” in 2018. In fact, the exhibition notes state that “in more than 860 episodes (and counting), Doctor Who has asked again and again ‘What if?’ and fed our imagination.”

The Drahvins, female clones from the Galaxy Four episode. Dr Who has always drawn on scientific developments and possibilities.

One example of the show’s prescience is the sonic screwdriver, which was invented by the Doctor in the show’s fourth season in 1968. The tool quickly became a staple of the show, allowing the Doctor to unlock doors, disarm enemies, and even perform medical procedures. Today, we have devices that work in a similar way, such as ultrasonic scalpels and other non-invasive medical tools.

It’s clear that Doctor Who has been a cultural touchstone for decades, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers, and writers. By featuring technology and concepts that have later become a reality, the show has played a small but important role in advancing science and technology. And by addressing important issues like pandemics and environmentalism, the show continues to remind us of the power of science fiction to inspire change in the real world. As the exhibition notes state, “Doctor Who has always celebrated the creative, limitless possibilities of technology.”

Not only that but the props and pictures displayed in this exhibition are sometimes beautiful. I loved the coral based Console room of the Tardis designed by Ed Thomas in 2005 to give one example.

Adult tickets from £12, National Museums Scotland Members free.

10% off when you book as a family

Book here

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (4th-10th March 2023)

Selections by Henry Falconer and Pat Harrington. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Highlights this week include:

Trying It On: David Edgar by the award winning playwright and political activist on BBC Radio 4,
Parasite on Film4 and Becoming Frida Kahlo on BBC2.

Saturday 4th March 2023

Lawrence of Arabia (1962 film) 2.30pm GREAT! movies

“Lawrence of Arabia” is a sweeping epic masterpiece that captures the essence of one of history’s most enigmatic figures – T.E. Lawrence. Directed by David Lean, the film is a remarkable achievement in cinema, featuring stunning cinematography, a brilliant script, and an outstanding cast.

The film follows the story of T.E. Lawrence, a British officer who was sent to Arabia during World War I to assist in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. As Lawrence immerses himself in the Arab culture, he becomes a key figure in the revolt and develops a deep understanding and respect for the people he is fighting alongside.

However, the film does not shy away from portraying Lawrence’s disillusionment with British policy, adding to the complexity of his character. Additionally, the film hints at Lawrence’s possible Fascist sympathies, a controversial topic that has long been debated among historians. This aspect of his character is portrayed with a subtle touch, leaving it up to the viewer to form their own opinion.

Moreover, the film suggests Lawrence’s homosexuality, which was a taboo subject at the time. While not explicitly stated, it is hinted at throughout the film, adding another layer to the already complex character.

Despite the controversies surrounding T.E. Lawrence’s life, “Lawrence of Arabia” remains a cinematic masterpiece. Its epic scope, brilliant performances, and stunning visuals, particularly Peter O’Toole’s nuanced and powerful portrayal of Lawrence, make it a must-see for any lover of cinema.

Trying It On; David Edgar 2.45pm BBC Radio 4

David Edgar, an award-winning playwright known for his political activism, will be performing in his solo show “Trying It On” on BBC Radio 4 at 2.45 pm. In the Winter 2003 edition of “anti-fascist” magazine Searchlight, he was praised for his contributions as a regular writer on issues related to the British far right, the US new right, and other political topics. Edgar’s play “Destiny,” about the National Front, was also broadcast on the BBC in 1978. “Trying It On” explores the background behind his landmark play “Maydays,” which recently became a three-part series on Radio 4. The play follows a 70-year-old Edgar confronting his younger self 50 years after his political views were shaped by the events of 1968, questioning whether they still share the same beliefs and what has changed since then. The play also tackles issues such as Brexit and whether Edgar has sold out or sold in.

Archive on 4: The Story of Lobotomy 8pm BBC Radio 4

Lobotomy, once hailed as a miracle cure for mental illness, involved destroying healthy brain tissue and was adopted worldwide by doctors to treat seriously ill psychiatric patients. Sir Wylie McKissock, the most prolific lobotomist in the UK, carried out around 3,000 lobotomies and was widely praised by the media. However, the procedure often left patients docile, incontinent, and affectless. Using archival material from the 1940s to 2010 and new interviews, a program explores the history of lobotomy and its eventual decline.

Sunday 5th March 2023

Paul Whitehouse: Our Troubled Rivers (one of two) 8pm BBC2

Comedian and actor Paul Whitehouse hosts a new TV series, investigating the environmental issues facing rivers and waterways in England and Wales. The show delves into the problems caused by water companies, intensive farming, and a growing population, as well as what measures can be taken to protect these precious resources. In the first episode, Paul examines the impact of water companies on rivers in the North of England, examining changes since privatisation in 1989 and the regulations regarding sewage discharge. He meets locals in Yorkshire who are concerned about the state of the River Wharfe, a conservationist who warns of the ecological decline of Lake Windermere, and Feargal Sharkey, a leading advocate for waterway conservation.

Dispatches: Undercover Ambulance 9pm Channel 4

Over the course of the winter season, a paramedic has surreptitiously captured his daily work on film. The footage portrays him and his fellow crew members grappling to save lives in the face of mounting ambulance wait times and overcrowded A&E departments that leave patients stacked in hallways with insufficient medical attention. This documentary exposes how the NHS’s inadequate response to emergency calls is inflicting anguish, lasting damage, and potentially avoidable fatalities, as supported by additional real-life examples investigated by the programme’s producers.

We Want the Light: Jews and German Music 10.40pm BBC4

What is the complex but fruitful relationship between Jewish people and German music?

The Crying Game (1992 film) 11.10pm Film4

“The Crying Game” is a compelling and thought-provoking film that explores themes of identity, loyalty, and deception. Directed by Neil Jordan, the film was released in 1992 and quickly became a critical and commercial success.

The story centre around a British soldier named Jody, played by Forest Whitaker, who is captured by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. One of Jody’s captors, Fergus, played by Stephen Rea, begins to develop a bond with him, and promises to look after Jody’s girlfriend, Dil, played by Jaye Davidson, should anything happen to him.

However, things take a surprising turn when Jody is killed during an attempted escape, and Fergus goes to fulfil his promise to Jody by seeking out Dil. As he spends time with her, Fergus begins to develop feelings for Dil, but soon discovers a secret that will challenge everything he knows about himself and those around him.

The film is a masterclass in storytelling, as it explores complex themes with nuance and sensitivity. The performances are outstanding, particularly Jaye Davidson’s portrayal of Dil, which earned the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The chemistry between the cast is palpable, and the tension and emotion are expertly conveyed throughout the film.

The film’s soundtrack, featuring a haunting rendition of “The Crying Game” by Boy George, adds to the film’s atmosphere and emotion, and serves as a fitting accompaniment to the story.

“The Crying Game” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. Its exploration of identity, loyalty, and deception is handled with intelligence and sensitivity, and the performances and direction are outstanding. It is a film that should not be missed by any lover of cinema.

All The Money In The World (2017 film) 11.30pm C4

“All The Money In The World” is a gripping and intense drama based on the true story of the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the grandson of the wealthiest man in the world at the time, J. Paul Getty. Directed by Ridley Scott and released in 2017, the film stars Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, and Mark Wahlberg.

The film follows the harrowing ordeal of John Paul Getty III’s kidnapping, and the frantic efforts of his mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), to secure his release. However, she faces an unexpected obstacle in the form of her former father-in-law, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), who refuses to pay the ransom and seems more concerned with his wealth and reputation than his own grandson’s safety.

The standout performance in the film is undoubtedly Christopher Plummer’s portrayal of J. Paul Getty. Plummer stepped in to replace Kevin Spacey, who was originally cast in the role, and delivers a powerful and nuanced performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Michelle Williams also delivers a strong performance as Gail Harris, portraying a mother’s desperation and determination to save her son.

The film’s direction by Ridley Scott is masterful, with tense and suspenseful scenes that keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. The cinematography and production design are also noteworthy, transporting the viewer to the opulent world of the Getty family and the dark underworld of the kidnappers.

“All The Money In The World” is a compelling and well-crafted film that tells a riveting story of greed, power, and family. The outstanding performances, direction, and production design make it a must-see for fans of true crime dramas and anyone looking for a gripping and intense film.

Monday 6th March 2023

Parasite (2019 film) 12.35am Film4

“Parasite” is a riveting and darkly comedic thriller from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho that explores themes of class inequality and the struggle for upward mobility. Released in 2019, the film was a critical and commercial success, winning numerous awards including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The story follows the impoverished Kim family, who scheme their way into the lives of the wealthy Park family by taking on various roles as tutors and household staff. As the Kims become more entrenched in the Park family’s world, their plan begins to unravel in unexpected and disturbing ways, leading to a shocking and unforgettable climax.

The film is a masterclass in storytelling and direction, with Bong Joon-ho expertly balancing tension, humor, and social commentary. The cinematography and production design are also stunning, with the stark contrast between the cramped and cluttered Kim family apartment and the sleek and modern Park family home underscoring the film’s themes of class divide.

The performances are outstanding, with the cast fully embodying their characters and delivering nuanced and captivating portrayals. In particular, Song Kang-ho stands out as the patriarch of the Kim family, bringing depth and humanity to a character who could easily have been reduced to a caricature.

“Parasite” is a masterpiece of filmmaking that deftly explores complex themes while keeping the audience on the edge of their seat. It is a thrilling and thought-provoking work of art that deserves all of the accolades it has received.

Tuesday 7th March 2023

Who Killed Ivan the Terrible? 9.35am repeated 3pm and 7.25pm; PBS America

Leading criminologist David Wilson reopens one of the most compelling mysteries of all time: the death of Russia’s first dictator.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp 10.40am repeated 4.10pm and 8.35pm PBS America

Betrayed recounts the tale of a community of Japanese Americans who were forcibly incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II. Survivors from Minidoka, a concentration camp situated in the Idaho desert, share their poignant stories, giving voice to their experience of unjust incarceration and the erosion of civil liberties.

Little Womwn (2019 film) 6.15pm Film4

“Little Women” is a delightful and heart-warming adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Directed by Greta Gerwig, the film tells the story of the four March sisters – Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy – as they navigate the challenges of growing up in 19th-century America.

The film’s ensemble cast is outstanding, with Saoirse Ronan delivering a standout performance as the feisty and independent Jo March. Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen also shine as the other three sisters, each bringing their unique personalities and struggles to life. Timothee Chalamet rounds out the cast as Laurie, the charming neighbour and friend of the March sisters.

Gerwig’s direction is masterful, seamlessly weaving together the different timelines of the story and highlighting the strong bond between the sisters. The film also explores themes of gender roles, creativity, and the pursuit of love and independence.

The cinematography and production design are equally impressive, capturing the warmth and nostalgia of the era while also incorporating modern touches to give the film a fresh and contemporary feel.

“Little Women” is a beautiful and uplifting film that captures the spirit of the novel while also standing on its own as a cinematic masterpiece. With its exceptional cast, stunning visuals, and heartfelt storytelling, it is a must-see for anyone who loves classic literature and great cinema.

Thursday 9 March 2023

Room (2015 film) 12.10am Film 4

“Room” is a hauntingly powerful film that explores the bond between a mother and her son in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, the film is a heart-wrenching story of survival and love that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

The film revolves around Jack, a five-year-old boy who has spent his entire life confined to a small room with his mother, Ma. As Jack and Ma try to escape from their captor and adjust to the outside world, they both grapple with the trauma of their past and the challenges of their new reality.

Brie Larson delivers a stunning performance as Ma, capturing the raw emotions of a woman who has endured unspeakable horrors and the fierce love she has for her son. But it is Jacob Tremblay, who plays Jack, who steals the show with his innocent and heartbreakingly honest portrayal of a child trying to make sense of the world around him.

The film is masterfully shot, with Abrahamson utilizing tight, claustrophobic shots in the first half of the film to convey the suffocating nature of Jack and Ma’s captivity, and then switching to a more expansive and open visual style once they are free. The score by Stephen Rennicks is also exceptional, heightening the tension and emotions of the story.

“Room” is a deeply moving and thought-provoking film that explores themes of trauma, resilience, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her child. With its exceptional performances and powerful storytelling, it is a must-see for anyone who appreciates great cinema.

Friday 10 March 2023

Solaris (2002 film) 6.55pm GREAT! movies

“Solaris” is a thought-provoking and visually stunning science fiction film directed by Steven Soderbergh. Based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem, the film tells the story of a psychologist, Chris Kelvin, who is sent to a space station orbiting the planet Solaris to investigate strange occurrences.

As Kelvin delves deeper into the mystery, he finds himself confronting his own past and the memories he thought he had left behind. The film is a meditation on the nature of consciousness, grief, and the human experience, told through a mesmerizing and surreal narrative.

The cinematography by Peter Andrews is breath-taking, with stunning visuals that create a sense of otherworldly beauty and isolation. The film’s score by Cliff Martinez is equally impressive, adding to the eerie and haunting atmosphere.

The performances in “Solaris” are outstanding, particularly that of George Clooney as Kelvin. Clooney delivers a nuanced and introspective performance, capturing the complex emotions and inner turmoil of his character with subtlety and depth. Natascha McElhone also shines as Kelvin’s wife, Rheya, bringing a sense of vulnerability and emotional depth to her character.

While the film is a slow burn, it rewards the patient viewer with its thought-provoking themes and stunning visuals. It is a profound and introspective work that challenges the viewer to contemplate the nature of reality and the human experience. “Solaris” is a masterful science fiction film that deserves to be seen and appreciated by fans of the genre and cinephiles alike.

Becoming Frida Kahlo (one of three) 9pm BBC2

Frida Kahlo remains a captivating figure even 69 years after her death. Her flamboyant traditional dress, iconic monobrow and rollercoaster life, filled with passionate affairs, personal tragedy and dangerous political intrigue, have turned her into an international celebrity and feminist icon. However, art historians argue that this has overshadowed the significance of her work. Kahlo’s paintings, often self-portraits or inspired by Mexico’s nature, artifacts and popular culture, pushed boundaries with their visceral representations of passion and suffering.

And streaming

I (Patrick) have been watching You on Netflix. You is a psychological thriller television series based on Caroline Kepnes’ books. Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager in New York who becomes obsessed by women, stalks them and is not above removing rivals for their affection. It’s dark but extremely well-written and oddly philosophical. Luther: The Fallen Sun is available from 10 March also on Netflix. In the BBC series Luther, a psychological crime drama, Idris Elba stars as the brilliant but troubled detective, John Luther. The show follows Luther’s investigations into gruesome and complex cases that often blur the lines between good and evil. In Luther: The Fallen Sun, a feature film continuation of the series, Luther finds himself in prison as a result of his own actions. While he is locked up, a serial killer is on the loose in London, and Luther is haunted by his failure to catch the perpetrator. When the killer begins to taunt him, Luther makes the bold decision to break out of prison and take matters into his own hands. As he navigates the murky waters of the criminal underworld, Luther will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice, even if it means crossing the line himself. With its intense action, gripping storyline, and outstanding performances, Luther has become a fan favorite and critical darling, and Luther: The Fallen Sun promises to be no exception.

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (25 February – 3 March 2023)

Selections by Henry Falconer and Pat Harrington.

Saturday 25 February 2023

A Hard Day’s Night (1964 film) 3.05pm BBC2

“A Hard Day’s Night” is a musical comedy film released in 1964, directed by Richard Lester, starring the iconic British rock band, The Beatles. The film is a classic representation of the band’s early career and is considered a landmark in the history of cinema and popular music.

The movie follows a day in the life of The Beatles, as they prepare for a live television performance. The plot revolves around the band members’ various misadventures and encounters with fans, reporters, and their own staff. Alongside the comedic plot, the film features many of the band’s most famous songs, including the titular “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and “I Should Have Known Better.”

The performances in the film are impressive, with The Beatles showcasing their musical talent and effortless charisma. The chemistry between the band members is palpable, and their natural comedic timing adds an extra layer of entertainment to the film.

The direction of Richard Lester is excellent, as he captures the spirit of the band’s music and the energy of the Swinging Sixties. The film is shot in black and white, which adds to its nostalgic charm and provides a fitting backdrop for the band’s electric performances.

Overall, “A Hard Day’s Night” is a timeless classic that perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the 1960s. It is a must-watch for fans of The Beatles and anyone who enjoys great music, comedy, and film. The film’s influence on pop culture cannot be overstated, and it remains a benchmark for musical films to this day.

Sunday 26 February 2023

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951 film) 7pm Talking Pictures

“The Lavender Hill Mob” is a British crime comedy film released in 1951, directed by Charles Crichton and starring Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway. The movie is a witty and entertaining caper, filled with clever plot twists, memorable characters, and plenty of laughs.

The story follows the bumbling but lovable bank clerk, Henry Holland (played by Guinness), who dreams of pulling off the perfect heist. With the help of his equally inept friend, Alfred Pendlebury (Holloway), Henry hatches a plan to steal a shipment of gold bullion from the Bank of England by melting it down and turning it into small Eiffel Tower statues.

The film’s strength lies in its excellent script, which is full of sharp dialogue and clever one-liners. The comedy is delivered with impeccable timing by Guinness and Holloway, who make a fantastic on-screen duo. The supporting cast is equally impressive, with excellent performances from Sid James, Marjorie Fielding, and John Gregson.

The direction by Charles Crichton is also top-notch, as he keeps the film moving at a brisk pace while never sacrificing the humor or the suspense. The film’s climax is particularly thrilling, with a chase scene through the streets of London that is both hilarious and edge-of-your-seat exciting.

“The Lavender Hill Mob” is a classic British comedy that has stood the test of time. It is a charming and clever film that will leave audiences smiling and wanting more. The film’s blend of humor, suspense, and memorable characters make it a must-watch for fans of classic cinema and crime capers alike.

The Secret World of Incels: UNTOLD 10pm Channel 4

Filmmaker Ben Zand investigates the dark world of incels. He uncovers shockingly violent content being shared online and meets a British man who has never had a conversation with a woman in real life.

Monday 27 February 2023

Maydays: David Edgar 2.15pm BBC Radio 4

David Edgar’s 1983 play, which spans continents and decades, delves into the journey of young activists who shifted from far-left to die-hard right after growing up in the 1960s. In 2018, Edgar revised the text, and now he has transformed the compelling narrative into a sweeping three-part audio version.

Bronson; Fit to Be Free? (continued on Tuesday at the same time} 9pm C4

Charles Bronson, the UK’s most infamous prisoner, is set to make his case for release at a rare public parole board hearing after serving 48 years in prison. This unique two-part series delves into the perspectives of Bronson’s victims, his inner circle, and members of the criminal justice system, questioning whether or not he is suitable for release.

After the initial broadcast on Monday 27th February, both parts of the series will be available to stream or download for free on All 4.

Sicario (2015 film) 9pm Great! movies

“Sicario” is a 2015 American crime thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio del Toro. The film follows a young FBI agent, Kate Macer (Blunt), who is recruited by a government task force to aid in the war on drugs along the U.S.-Mexico border. The film is a tense, gripping, and thought-provoking exploration of the moral complexities of the drug war.

The film’s strength lies in its excellent script, which provides a nuanced look at the complex and often violent world of the drug cartels. The story is told through the eyes of Kate, who is an outsider in this world and struggles to understand the methods used by her government task force. The film raises important questions about the efficacy of the war on drugs, as well as the morality of using extreme measures to combat it.

The performances in the film are outstanding, particularly from Blunt, who delivers a powerful and nuanced portrayal of a woman caught up in a dangerous and corrupt world. Brolin and del Toro are also excellent, portraying the morally ambiguous government operatives who recruit Kate for their mission.

The direction by Denis Villeneuve is top-notch, as he creates a palpable sense of tension and unease throughout the film. The cinematography is stunning, with wide shots of the desert landscape and tightly framed shots of the characters, creating a sense of claustrophobia and paranoia.

“Sicario” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores the moral complexities of the drug war. The film’s excellent performances, direction, and script make it a must-watch for fans of crime thrillers and those interested in the social and political issues surrounding the war on drugs. It is a film that will leave a lasting impression on viewers and spark important conversations about the morality of government intervention in the drug trade.

Bent Coppers 10pm BBC4

Philip Glenister, best known for his role as Gene Hunt in “Life on Mars,” narrates this gripping series set in the 1970s, an era of high-speed car chases and thrilling police pursuits. But beneath the excitement lies a much darker story of corruption and injustice, as a network of corrupt officers wreak havoc on innocent lives.

The series features shocking recordings from a 1969 investigation, in which a Metropolitan police detective can be heard casually telling a south London criminal that if he committed a crime, the police would expect a cut of the profits. Even more disturbing are the accounts of those who were “fitted up” for crimes they didn’t commit, in ways that even Gene Hunt would find hard to believe.

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Storyville: Sex On Screen 10pm BBC4

This Storyville documentary delves into the process of creating sex scenes in Hollywood, shedding light on the toll it takes on those involved in filming them and the impact such images have on women and girls in the real world.

Featuring candid interviews with actors and creators, including Jane Fonda, Rosanna Arquette, Joey Soloway, Angela Robinson, Karyn Kusama, Rose McGowan, Alexandra Billings, Emily Meade, and David Simon, the film explores the nuanced and often fraught nature of filming sex scenes. Through their personal experiences and insights, the documentary examines the emotional, physical, and psychological impact of these scenes on those who participate in them.

Furthermore, the film highlights the voices of women who have bravely spoken out against abusive behavior on set, and the consequences they faced for doing so. By exposing the harsh realities of the industry, the documentary seeks to shed light on the need for greater accountability and respect for the safety and wellbeing of all individuals involved in the film-making process.

Finally, the documentary does not shy away from the critical analysis of the impact that such images have on women and girls in the real world. It examines how these images contribute to harmful and unrealistic beauty standards, perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes, and normalize toxic and abusive behaviors. Through its honest and illuminating exploration of the subject, this documentary is a vital contribution to the ongoing conversation around the intersection of art, representation, and gender equality in the entertainment industry.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Django (one of ten) 9pm Sky Atlantic

“Django” is a 10-part series inspired by the Spaghetti Western of the 1960s, directed by Francesca Comencini and produced by the team behind “Gomorrah” and “ZeroZeroZero.” The story is set in Texas in the late 1800s and follows a cowboy named Django in search of his daughter. The series uses the Western genre to explore themes of feminism, family sagas, and psychology. The cast includes Matthias Schoenaerts as Django, Nicholas Pinnock as John Ellis, Lisa Vicari as Sarah, and Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Thurman. The series will have 10 episodes and will be released weekly on Sky Atlantic

Entebbe (2018 film) 11.15pm

“Entebbe” is a 2018 action thriller directed by José Padilha, starring Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, and Eddie Marsan. The film is based on the true events of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane and the subsequent rescue mission by Israeli forces. While the film has moments of tension and suspense, it ultimately falls short in delivering a compelling narrative.

The film’s biggest problem is its disjointed structure, with frequent flashbacks and non-linear storytelling that detracts from the tension of the main plot. The characters are also poorly developed, with little insight into their motivations or backgrounds. This makes it difficult for the audience to empathize with or root for any of the characters.

The performances in the film are serviceable, with Pike and Brühl doing their best with the limited material they are given. However, their characters feel one-dimensional and lack any real depth or complexity. The same can be said for the supporting cast, who are given little to do beyond serving as plot devices.

The direction by Padilha is competent, with some well-choreographed action scenes and tense moments. However, the film lacks the visceral impact and urgency that one would expect from a thriller based on a real-life hostage situation. The pacing is also uneven, with the film dragging in places and rushing through important plot points in others.

“Entebbe” is a disappointing film that fails to deliver a compelling narrative or well-developed characters. While there are moments of tension and suspense, they are few and far between, and the film never manages to fully engage the audience. Despite the best efforts of the talented cast, “Entebbe” is ultimately forgettable and not worth the time or effort to watch.

Thursday 2 March 2023

Stalin: Inside the Terror 8.30am 1.45pm, 6.20pm (three showings) PBS America

“Stalin: Inside the Terror” is a gripping and insightful documentary that explores the dark and bloody reign of Joseph Stalin, one of the most brutal dictators in history. The documentary, which was produced by PBS, provides a fascinating look at Stalin’s rise to power, his ruthless tactics, and the devastating impact of his policies on the Soviet Union and the world.

The film is well-researched and provides a wealth of information about Stalin’s life and the events that shaped his ideology. The documentary features interviews with historians and experts on Soviet history, as well as archival footage and photographs that bring the era to life.

One of the most powerful aspects of the film is its focus on the human toll of Stalin’s reign. Through interviews with survivors and family members of victims, the documentary brings to light the stories of those who suffered under Stalin’s purges, show trials, and forced labor camps. These personal accounts add a poignant and emotional layer to the historical narrative, making the film both informative and deeply affecting.

Howards End (1992 film) 3.55pm Film 4

Howards End is a beautifully crafted period drama directed by James Ivory, based on the novel by E.M. Forster. The film tells the story of two families from different social classes in Edwardian England, and how their lives become intertwined through a series of unexpected events.

The cinematography is stunning, capturing the lush English countryside and grand estates with precision and elegance. The attention to detail in the set design and costumes also adds to the film’s authenticity, transporting the viewer back in time to the early 1900s.

The performances from the cast are exceptional, with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins leading a talented ensemble. Thompson shines as Margaret Schlegel, a compassionate and intelligent woman who defies the expectations of her class, while Hopkins delivers a nuanced portrayal of Henry Wilcox, a wealthy businessman struggling with his conscience.

The themes explored in Howards End are timeless and universal, including class, gender, and the pursuit of love and happiness. The film’s exploration of the complex relationships between its characters is both moving and thought-provoking, leaving the viewer with much to ponder long after the credits roll.

Howards End is a stunning film that stands the test of time, with masterful direction, exquisite visuals, and powerful performances. It is a must-see for fans of period dramas, and anyone looking for a compelling and moving story about the human condition.

Friday 3 March 2023

Stalin’s Executioners: The Katyn Massacre 9.15pm PBS

Stalin’s Executioners: The Katyn Massacre is a powerful and haunting documentary that sheds light on one of the most horrific events of World War II – the mass murder of over 20,000 Polish officers and intellectuals by the Soviet secret police in the Katyn forest in 1940.

The documentary presents a wealth of information and footage, including rare archival materials and interviews with historians, survivors, and family members of the victims. Through these various perspectives, the film reveals the staggering scale of the atrocity, the Soviet government’s efforts to cover up the crime, and the lasting impact it had on the families of the victims.

The film is expertly crafted, with a combination of narration, interviews, and historical footage that creates a vivid and emotionally charged portrayal of the massacre. The use of personal accounts and family stories adds a human element that makes the events all the more tragic and resonant.

Stalin’s Executioners: The Katyn Massacre is an important and deeply affecting film that sheds light on a lesser-known but no less significant aspect of World War II history. It is a reminder of the devastating impact of war and totalitarian regimes, and a tribute to the resilience and courage of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable horror.

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Film review: Superman: Red Son

What if baby Kal-El’s ( the future Superman) rocket landed, not in Kansas, but in the Soviet Union? That is the premise of this Elseworld’s tale from DC Comics. Review by Antony C. Green.

I watched this the other night, having picked up a copy in CEX for £6. I hadn’t actually realised there was a film version, though it’s been several years since I read the graphic novel.

I love the basic premise that baby Superman crash-lands into a small town in the USSR rather than in Smallville, USA, and thus ends up fighting for the cause of International Communism rather than for ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way.’ However, in the book, as with the film, the idea is much better than its execution.

Inevitably, this still being a part of the DC Universe, albeit an alternative version, Superman, in both the film and the book, ends up renouncing communism and embracing American ‘freedom.’

In some respects, the film is better than the book, although my memories of the graphic novel are admittedly hazy. We do see the terrible poverty of the United States, and the inequality, which led so many to embrace socialism, though in much greater numbers in the movie than in reality. And, through the use of ‘Brainiac, a form of artificial intelligence which allows for the central planning of the economy free from human error and the difficulty of micro-managing the complexities of a modern economy given the limitations of the human mind, we do see the Soviet Union make giant strides forwards, quickly surpassing the leading capitalist economies once Superman, disgusted by his discovery of the existence of the Gulags, eliminates Stalin and takes over the leadership of the Soviet Super-power himself. The creation of Brainiac, which I don’t remember from the book, is I think a particularly good innovation, with some basis in reality. In the 1960’s, during the Brezhnev years, the CPSU did look at the idea of using modern computing power to assist in the planning of the economy. Allende in Chie is also said to have looked into the feasibility of this, before his Popular Unity government was overthrown and replaced by the brutal proto-Thatcherite Pinochet government in the early-’70’s. In both these cases, computing was still at stage that was too primitive to be useful, but Brainiac does make one think what might be possible today, given the exponential growth in the scope and power of information technology…

There are some glaring weaknesses in the movie, however. Batman makes a rather pointless appearance as a sort of Soviet vigilante counter-revolutionary, and Wonder Woman is there only to mouth the words of uber-utopian-feminism, expressing profundities like: ‘Even a Superman is still just a man, and as long as men are in charge, there will always be violence and war.’ Haven’t we had enough equally war-like female world leaders by now to make such comments sound ridiculous: Thatcher, Golda Meir, Benazir Bhutto, Aung San Su Ki, Hilary Clinton, the super-hawk who fortunately never quite made it to the very top job?

Superman shows human morality in closing down the Gulags, but is also shown as possessing human frailties which illustrate the old truism that ‘…absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Given this, it’s never quite clear why he doesn’t simply use his superpowers to decimate the United States and with it international capitalism. Nor is it clear why, other than that it is led by a genius of a President in traditional Superman adversary Lex Luther, the United States not only recovers from its dire economic woes, but does so to such an extent that it begins to outstrip communism, leading to the type of demonstrations that result, as in the real world, to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe. Superman accepts this and, like Gorbachev, is himself finally complicit in the dismantling of the USSR.

Thus, by the early ’90’s, we are back in a Universe that is recognisably our own (apart from the existence of Superman of course. Wonder Woman, giving up on men completely, has long since returned to her hidden women-only island).

Towards the very end though, we get a real laugh out loud moment when President Luther says words to the effect that ‘We will not act as victors in the Cold War, we will extend the hand of friendship to the Russian people, and assist them in building a land of freedom and prosperity.’ Yeah, right. In the real world, the ‘West’ imposed ‘Big Bang’ shock-tactics on the former people’s of the USSR, selling off their industries and public services for peanuts to multi-national, mainly American led corporations, assisted a few ex Soviet bureaucrats to become billionaire oligarchs, decimated living standards and caused a massive decline in life-expectancy. Within a decade, the Russian people had had quite enough of western-style ‘liberal democracy’ and turned to strong man Putin to set things right and restore a little national pride. We are still living with the consequences of western capitalism’s rape of the former Soviet economy, and it’s telling that the only serious internal opposition to Putin today comes from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation…

But I digress. Red Son is full of holes and weaknesses, but for anyone who combines some knowledge of modern history with an interest in the super-hero genre, it’s well worth watching, and might even make you think about how, in the real world, the geopolitical and economic order could have been, and could still be, so very different.

Reviewed by Anthony C Green

Picture credit: Fair use,

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

Welcome to Culture Vulture. Highlights this week include Dispatches: Strippers, Spies and Russian Money, Mussolini: The First Fascist and Better, the new ITV crime series.

Saturday 11th of February 2023

Three Days In June: The Story Of The D-Day Forecast 9.35pm PBS America

This documentary film focuses on the important role that meteorologists played in the planning and execution of the D-Day invasion during World War II.

The film is a fascinating look at the history of meteorology and its impact on one of the most significant events of the 20th century. The film features expert interviews and archival footage, painting a comprehensive picture of the science and the people behind the weather forecast for D-Day.

One of the strengths of the film is its ability to convey the incredible amount of work and planning that went into the D-Day invasion, and how critical the weather forecast was to its success. The film also highlights the bravery of the meteorologists who made the forecasts and the sacrifices they made in the pursuit of accurate weather data.

Three Days In June is a well-made and informative documentary that will appeal to fans of history, science, and meteorology. The film is engaging, educational, and thought-provoking, and will provide viewers with a deeper understanding of the importance of accurate weather forecasting and the impact it can have on the outcome of historical events.

Sunday 12th of February 2023

Dispatches: Strippers, Spies and Russian Money 10pm C4

The remarkable tale of Russia’s covert attempts to undermine British democracy and politics through the infusion of vast amounts of funds into the Conservative Party prior to the invasion of Ukraine.

A Hidden Life C4 1.05am (2019 Film)

A Hidden Life is a 2019 historical drama film directed by Terrence Malick. The film is based on the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II and was subsequently executed for his refusal.

The film is a beautiful and haunting meditation on the nature of faith, morality, and resistance. The cinematography is stunning, capturing the stunning landscapes of the Austrian Alps and the everyday beauty of life on a farm. The film also features strong performances from its cast, particularly August Diehl as Franz and Valerie Pachner as his wife Franziska.

Malick’s signature visual style is on full display here, with long, lyrical shots of nature and intense close-ups of the actors’ faces. The film’s dialogue is minimal, relying instead on voiceover and the gorgeous score to convey the characters’ thoughts and emotions. This approach allows for a deeper exploration of the themes at play in the story, and makes for a truly immersive viewing experience.

Despite its meditative pace and lack of conventional plot, A Hidden Life is a powerful and deeply moving film that stays with you long after you’ve left the theatre. It’s a testament to the strength of the human spirit and a reminder of the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of great adversity. If you’re a fan of historical dramas, or simply appreciate thoughtful and visually stunning filmmaking, A Hidden Life is definitely worth checking out.

Monday 13th of February 2023

The Blue Dahlia (1946 Film) Film4 2.50pm

The Blue Dahlia is a 1946 film noir directed by George Marshall. The film stars Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, and William Bendix and tells the story of a former war veteran who finds himself embroiled in a dangerous and complicated mystery.

The Blue Dahlia is a classic film noir, with all the elements that fans of the genre have come to love – a dark and moody atmosphere, a complex and twisting plot, and sharp, hard-boiled dialogue. Ladd and Lake have great on-screen chemistry, bringing their respective characters to life with subtlety and nuance. Bendix also delivers a standout performance as a gruff and comedic detective.

The film’s direction is tight and efficient, keeping the audience engaged from start to finish. The cinematography is also noteworthy, with moody lighting and stylish camera angles that create a sense of unease and tension. The film’s musical score is also noteworthy, with a haunting theme that perfectly captures the film’s dark and suspenseful mood.

The Blue Dahlia is a true classic of the film noir genre, and a must-see for fans of classic Hollywood cinema. It’s a well-crafted and entertaining mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Better (one of five) BBC One, 9pm

This new series, featuring Leila Farzad as a corrupt detective inspector in Leeds who’s in league with a notorious gangster, immediately grabs your attention and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The standout feature of the show is the electric chemistry between Farzad as the cunning DI Lou Slack and Andrew Buchan as the dangerously charismatic crime boss, Col McHugh.

The first episode immerses you in this dark and illicit world, captivating you with Slack’s delicate balancing act between being a feared investigator at work and a puppet to Col in her personal life. But when her beloved son falls ill with bacterial meningitis, her priorities begin to change. The writing is strong, with solid performances throughout, but it’s the dynamic tension between Farzad and Buchan that drives the show forward, hinting at a likely downward spiral. The full series will be available on iPlayer from Monday.

Tuesday 14th February 2023

Mussolini: The First Fascist (one of two) 8.20pm PBS America

This comprehensive two-part series delves into the rise of Fascism in Italy and traces the journey of Benito Mussolini from being a dictatorial ruler to his eventual execution, with his body displayed in a Milan square for public ridicule. The documentary offers a thorough examination of the leader who aided Hitler, ultimately leading Italy to financial collapse. The series concludes on Wednesday, February 15th.

Tagged: We’re Watching You 9pm BBC Three

With the aim of punishing offenders without adding to the overburdened prison system, the government has poured £180 million into electronic tagging. This three-part series follows four individuals who are required to wear tags: including 21-year-old John from Rhyl, who must wear a tag that detects alcohol in his sweat and alerts the authorities, and a teenager named Jaion who is fitted with a GPS tracker that limits his movement within certain boroughs of London.

Inside Our Autistic Minds 9pm BBC2

Wildlife expert Chris Packham meets other autistic people from across the UK and helps them create short films to reveal to their family and friends what’s really going on inside their minds.

Storyville: The Spy In Your Mobile BBC4 10pm

An exposé by Storyville that delves into the treacherous spyware known as Pegasus, marketed to nations globally by Israeli firm NSO Group, and utilized against journalists, activists, and even the loved ones of Saudi Arabian dissent Jamal Khashoggi, including his wife and fiancée.

Dark Waters (2019 Film) BBC2

This film tells the story of a corporate defense attorney named Robert Bilott (played by Mark Ruffalo) who takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company DuPont. The case uncovers a decades-long history of DuPont’s release of toxic chemicals into the environment, putting the health of local communities at risk.

The film is well-acted, with Mark Ruffalo delivering a powerful performance as Robert Bilott. The supporting cast also does a great job of bringing to life the story of the real-life people affected by the chemical contamination. The film is well-researched and provides an in-depth look at the legal battle between Bilott and DuPont, as well as the impact of the toxic chemicals on local communities.

Dark Waters is not just a legal drama, but also a cautionary tale about the dangers of corporate greed and the consequences of neglecting the environment. The film’s message is especially relevant in today’s world, where many corporations prioritize profits over the well-being of people and the environment.

A Counter Culture review of this film is available.

The Duke of Burgundy (2014 Film) Film4 1.50am

The Duke of Burgundy is a 2014 film directed by Peter Strickland. It’s a romantic drama set in a mysterious, dreamlike world where two women, Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna), engage in a BDSM relationship.

The film is a masterful exploration of power dynamics, desire, and the complexities of human relationships. Strickland’s direction is visually stunning, with a lush and dreamy aesthetic that adds to the film’s atmosphere. The film’s cinematography, music, and sound design are all impeccable, drawing the audience into this strange and beguiling world.

The film’s performances are also noteworthy. Knudsen and D’Anna have excellent chemistry, conveying the intensity of their love and their emotional struggles with nuance and restraint. The film’s portrayal of BDSM is mature, sensitive, and respectful, treating the subject matter with the seriousness it deserves.

The Duke of Burgundy is a film that will reward patient viewers who are willing to let themselves get lost in its dreamlike atmosphere. It’s a thought-provoking and emotionally rich film that is sure to linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled.

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Just One Thing: Clean Your Teeth 9.30am BBC RADIO 4

At Culture Vulture, we’re big fans of Just One Thing. Each programme looks one thing that you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. Michael Mosley reveals surprisingly simple top tips.

Did you know that maintaining good dental hygiene can not only prevent tooth decay and improve your overall oral health, but also have positive impacts on other parts of your body? Research shows that a healthy mouth can help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia.

To shed light on this topic, Michael Mosley sits down with Dr. Sim Singhrao from the University of Central Lancashire School of Dentistry to learn how bacteria in the mouth can travel to other parts of the body, including the brain. Additionally, our volunteer Lowri takes the challenge of incorporating daily brushing and interdental cleaning into her routine to see if it’s a feasible habit for her lifestyle.

Thursday 16th of February 2023

The Great Stink of 1858 (one of two) 9on Channel 5

Exploring how in 1858 a summer heatwave turned the gallons of raw sewage dumped in the river Thames into a noxious cesspool of filth with a stench that overwhelmed London. Concludes Friday.

Friday 17th of February 2023

Kinky Boots (2005 Film) 11.10pm 5Star

Kinky Boots is a 2005 musical film directed by Julian Jarrold. The film stars Joel Edgerton and Chiwetel Ejiofor and is based on the true story of a struggling shoe factory in Northampton, England that begins producing boots for drag queens.

The film is a charming and heart-warming celebration of diversity, friendship, and the power of following one’s dreams. Edgerton and Ejiofor both give strong performances, with Edgerton delivering a heartfelt and nuanced portrayal of a man struggling to save his family’s business, and Ejiofor bringing energy and charisma to his role as a drag queen in need of new footwear.

The film’s musical numbers are also a highlight, with catchy and upbeat songs that perfectly capture the film’s upbeat and optimistic spirit. The film’s cinematography is also noteworthy, capturing the beauty of the English countryside and the colourful and dynamic world of the drag queen community.

Kinky Boots is a feel-good movie that will put a smile on your face and a tap in your step. It’s a film that celebrates the power of individuality and the importance of embracing diversity and friendship.

Selections by Patrick Harrington

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