FILMS OF THE WEEK

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

SATUR­DAY The Book Thief (2013) (Chan­nel 4, 6.30pm)

As ten­sions es­ca­late across Ger­many prior to the Sec­ond World War, lit­tle Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nelisse) bids a tear­ful farewell to her Com­mu­nist mother (Heike Makatsch) and is de­liv­ered into the care of fos­ter par­ents, Hans and Rosa Hu­ber­mann (Ge­of­frey Rush, Emily Wat­son). With en­cour­age­ment from Hans, Liesel learns to read and she de­vel­ops a vo­ra­cious ap­petite for books. One night, a Jewish refugee called Max Van­den­burg (Ben Sch­net­zer) ar­rives at the Hu­ber­manns’ home and Liesel be­comes com­plicit in Max’s con­ceal­ment. Based on the in­ter­na­tional best­seller of the same name by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief is a beau­ti­fully crafted story of courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion that com­pels us to care about the spunky hero­ine as she risks her life to pro­tect the peo­ple she loves.

De­part­ment Q: The Ab­sent One (2014) (BBC Four, 9pm)

Prov­ing that Nordic noir works on the big screen as well as the small, this Danish crime drama is part of a tril­ogy fol­low­ing Morck (Niko­laj Lie Kaas) and As­sad (Fares Fares), two de­tec­tives in Copen­hagen’s cold case di­vi­sion. This time around they re­open the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der of twins in the 1990s af­ter the vic­tims’ fa­ther com­mits sui­cide. Morck is ini­tially re­luc­tant to get in­volved as the case was solved – a lo­cal junkie con­fessed to the killings and was sub­se­quently con­victed. How­ever, when the de­tec­tive dis­cov­ers that the mur­derer was rep­re­sented by a sus­pi­ciously high-priced lawyer and served only three years for the dou­ble homi­cide, he be­gins to agree that some­thing is amiss, and un­cov­ers ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing a link be­tween the deaths and an exclusive board­ing school.

SUN­DAY The Hob­bit: The Des­o­la­tion of Smaug (2013) (ITV2, 6.55pm)

The Des­o­la­tion Of Smaug picks up where An Un­ex­pected Jour­ney con­cluded, with plucky hob­bit Bilbo Bag­gins (Martin Free­man), wise wiz­ard Gan­dalf the Grey (Sir Ian McK­ellen) and the com­pany of dwarves led by Thorin Oak­en­shield (Richard Ar­mitage) run­ning for their lives. As the ad­ven­tur­ers head to­wards the Lonely Moun­tain to re­claim the lost gold from dragon Smaug, they en­counter a shape-shifter called Be­orn (Mikael Pers­brandt) When the orcs storm Mirk­wood, elves led by King Thran­duil (Lee Pace) re­pel the in­vaders, al­low­ing Bilbo and the dwarves to ven­ture on­wards, cross­ing a vast lake that sep­a­rates them from the moun­tain with the help of Bard the Bow­man (Luke Evans). Mean­while, Gan­dalf dis­cov­ers the iden­tity of the necro­mancer in Dol Gul­dur.

MON­DAY Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) (BBC One, 8.30pm)

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is ab­ducted from Earth as a child and raised by alien mer­ce­nar­ies. Con­se­quently, he be­comes a thief for hire and steals a mys­ti­cal orb sought by sadis­tic war­lord Ro­nan (Lee Pace) and his army. When Peter learns the orb has the power to de­stroy the universe, he puts self­ish de­sires to one side and aligns him­self with a mot­ley crew of rene­gades – green-skinned as­sas­sin Gamora (Zoe Sal­dana), ge­net­i­cally engi­neered rac­coon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), his tree-like side­kick Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and vengeance-seek­ing war­rior Drax the De­stroyer (Dave Bautista) – to re­pel Ro­nan. From its vis­ually stun­ning open­ing set to the funky strains of Come and Get Your Love, James Gunn’s film is a blast, and Pratt brings swag­ger and dry wit to his emo­tion­ally wounded hero.

TUES­DAY Air­plane! (1980) (Film4, 7.20pm)

The clas­sic dis­as­ter movie spoof sees an air­liner run­ning into trou­ble when most of the flight crew are struck down by food poi­son­ing. It’s up to a trau­ma­tised ex-Navy pi­lot (Robert Hays) to over­come his fear of flying and guide the plane to safety – with a lit­tle help from his stew­ardess ex-girl­friend (Julie Hagerty) and the ec­cen­tric ground con­trol per­son­nel. In the un­likely event that any of the jokes in this film fail to land, don’t panic – there will be an­other two along in a sec­ond. The movie pos­i­tively groans with great sight gags, quotable lines and mo­ments of in­spired silli­ness. Much of the credit goes to writ­ers and di­rec­tors Jim Abra­hams and David and Jerry Zucker, but the won­der­fully dead­pan cast also de­serve their share of the praise.

WED­NES­DAY Lin­coln (2012) (More4, 9pm)

Jan­uary 1865. Two months have passed since the re-elec­tion of Abra­ham Lin­coln (Daniel Day-Lewis): the Amer­i­can Civil War rages on for a fourth year and the pres­i­dent’s thoughts turn to the highly con­tentious slav­ery bill. Sec­re­tary of State Wil­liam H Se­ward (David Strathairn) coun­sels against the mo­tion, but Lin­coln is adamant the Bill must be passed be­fore the end of the war. Mean­while the pres­i­dent con­tends with the mood swings of his emo­tion­ally frag­ile wife (Sally Field). Steven Spiel­berg’s Lin­coln art­fully tears a page from his­tory to im­mor­talise the ef­forts of the 16th pres­i­dent of the United States to abol­ish slav­ery dur­ing a pe­riod of deep di­vi­sion. Os­car win­ner Day-Lewis leads the ter­rific en­sem­ble cast in style, in­ter­nal­is­ing his states­man’s mael­strom of emo­tions.

THURS­DAY 21 Jump Street (2012) (5*, 10pm)

Jonah Hill and Chan­ning Ta­tum earn top grades with this in­spired re­make of a 1980s TV se­ries about baby-faced cops go­ing un­der­cover in a high school. Mor­ton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Ta­tum) en­rol at po­lice academy and work to­gether to en­sure they com­plete the fi­nal exam. Life as cops turns out to be quite dull and their first bust ends in em­bar­rass­ment. So they are sent in dis­grace to Cap­tain Dick­son (Ice Cube), who or­ders the pair to pose as stu­dents at the lo­cal school where drugs are rife. In a re­ver­sal of their own school days, Mor­ton be­comes a pop­u­lar mem­ber of the stu­dent body thanks to his brains and sen­si­tiv­ity while lum­ber­ing hunk Greg is viewed as an id­iot by ev­ery­one ex­cept his teacher Ms Griggs (El­lie Kem­per), who would love to give him some one-on-one tu­ition.

FRI­DAY Din­ner for Sch­mucks (2010) (BBC One, 11.50pm)

Tim Con­rad (Paul Rudd) is an am­bi­tious an­a­lyst at Fender Fi­nan­cial, who is des­per­ate to as­cend to the dizzy heights of the ex­ec­u­tive of­fices on the sev­enth floor. He sees his chance when his boss Lance Fender (Bruce Green­wood) in­vites him to a monthly top-se­cret din­ner where ev­ery­one brings along a very spe­cial com­pan­ion that the other guests can ridicule. By chance, Tim runs into In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice em­ployee and am­a­teur taxi­der­mist Barry Speck (Steve Carell), and feels cer­tain that he has found the big­gest id­iot of them all. Jay Roach’s English lan­guage re­make of the 1999 French com­edy Le Diner De Cons is buoyed by Carell’s win­ning per­for­mance and a scene-steal­ing turn from Je­maine Cle­ment as a pre­ten­tious artist.

Top: Jonah Hill and Chan­ning Ta­tum as un­der­cover po­lice­men at a high school in 21 Jump Street. Above: Chris Pratt leads a rene­gade gang in Guardians of the Galaxy

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