THE BEST FILMS ON TV

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

SATUR­DAY Effie Gray (2014) (BBC2, 9pm)

Vic­to­rian art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise) falls un­der the spell of 19-year-old Effie Gray (Dakota Fan­ning) and they marry. A visit to his par­ents (David Suchet, Julie Wal­ters) opens Effie’s eyes to the soli­tude she will have to bear for the rest of her life. Even­tu­ally, Ruskin spir­its Effie to Scot­land with artist John Everett Mil­lais (Tom Stur­ridge), who has been com­mis­sioned to paint his por­trait. Phys­i­cal at­trac­tion be­tween Mil­lais and Effie threat­ens to spark a full-blown af­fair but lowly wives do not di­vorce wealthy hus­bands... Based on the mar­i­tal woes of Ruskin and his bride, Effie Gray has all the in­gre­di­ents for a bo­som-heav­ing pe­riod ro­mance. Pri­vate Peace­ful (2012) (BBC2, 11.25pm) Screen­writer Si­mon Reade adapts Michael Mor­purgo’s beloved novel for the big screen. Tommo Peace­ful (Ge­orge MacKay) lives in the tran­quil vil­lage of Id­desleigh with his mother Hazel (Max­ine Peake) and broth­ers Char­lie (Jack O’Con­nell) and Big Joe (Kyle Sum­mer­corn). Tommo de­vel­ops a crush on spir­ited lo­cal girl Molly Monks (Alexan­dra Roach) but she seems to pre­fer the at­ten­tion of Char­lie and, when she falls preg­nant with his brother’s child, Tommo deals with his bro­ken heart by en­list­ing to fight in the First World War. Char­lie fol­lows and does his best to pro­tect weak­ling Tommo but his sib­ling can­not for­give him for steal­ing Molly’s heart and, as the con­flict rages on, the Peace­ful lads fight for their lives be­hind en­emy lines.

SUN­DAY War Horse (2011) (BBC1, 2.05pm)

When his drunken farmer dad Ted (Peter Mul­lan) comes home with a foal called Joey, young Al­bert (Jeremy Irvine) prom­ises to train the an­i­mal to work in the fields. How­ever, he doesn’t pre­dict that Europe will go to war - or that Ted will sell Joey to Cap­tain Ni­cholls (Tom Hid­dle­ston). Al­bert sub­se­quently learns of tragedy on the bat­tle­field and en­lists in the Army to track down Joey and re­turn the horse to the farm. Mean­while, be­hind en­emy lines, Joey is cap­tured by the Ger­mans and em­barks on a mo­men­tous jour­ney. Based on Michael Mor­purgo’s book, War Horse is a sweep­ing drama that har­nesses di­rec­tor Steven Spiel­berg’s vir­tu­os­ity to make per­fect Re­mem­brance Day view­ing.

Happy Feet Two (2011) (ITV2, 3.50pm)

Mum­ble the pen­guin (voiced by Eli­jah Wood) has raised a son called Erik (Ava Acres) with his wife Glo­ria (Pink). Like his fa­ther, Erik is strug­gling to find his rhythm in Emperor-Land and he searches for an­swers with friends Boadicea and At­ti­cus in the com­pany of wise-crack­ing Ra­mon (Robin Wil­liams). Mum­ble chases af­ter the lit­tle ones and re­turns home to dis­cover a gi­ant ice­berg has slammed into their home, trap­ping all the Emperor penguins. Happy Feet Two trades heav­ily on the charm of the orig­i­nal film, and our af­fec­tion for Mum­ble and his feath­ered friends helps to dis­tract from some of the chasms in the script.

MON­DAY The Three Mus­ke­teers (1973) (More4, 9.30am)

Three swash­buck­ling he­roes (Oliver Reed, Richard Cham­ber­lain and Frank Fin­lay) join forces with a headstrong coun­try boy (Michael York) who is de­ter­mined to be­come a Mus­ke­teer. To­gether they cross swords with evil Car­di­nal Riche­lieu (Charl­ton He­ston), who is at­tempt­ing to take the throne. Di­rec­tor Richard Lester plays up the laughs while keep­ing faith­ful to the spirit of Alexan­der Du­mas’s clas­sic novel. This is an epic in ev­ery sense – big names (it also finds roles for Raquel Welch, Faye Du­n­away and Christo­pher Lee), fu­ri­ous ac­tion and a long run­ning time – and, as a re­sult, is worth stay­ing with un­til the end.

TUES­DAY Fair Game (2010) (Film4, 1.40am)

Va­lerie Plame (Naomi Watts), whose CIA sta­tus is un­known to al­most her en­tire cir­cle of fam­ily and friends, is un­ex­pect­edly caught in the cross­fire when her hus­band Joe (Sean Penn) writes a scathing opin­ion piece for The New York Times about the gov­ern­ment’s claims that Iraq has weapons of mass de­struc­tion. A sub­se­quent ar­ti­cle in The Wash­ing­ton Post ex­poses Va­lerie and she is shunned by her col­leagues, who need to pro­tect their own iden­ti­ties. Fair Game is a grip­ping snap­shot of the build-up to the Iraq war and the sub­se­quent fall­out.

WED­NES­DAY X-Men (2000) (Film4, 6.55pm)

A new sub­species of hu­man, known as mu­tants, has emerged, blessed with strange and won­drous pow­ers. Em­bit­tered mu­tant Mag­neto (Ian McKellen), a Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp sur­vivor who fears a new age of per­se­cu­tion, de­clares war on the hu­mans. Mankind’s only hope rests with telepath Pro­fes­sor Xavier (Pa­trick Ste­wart) and his band of cham­pi­ons: Cy­clops (James Mars­den), Storm (Halle Berry), Wolver­ine (Hugh Jack­man), Dr Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and en­ergy vam­pire Rogue (Anna Paquin). Although X-Men ar­guably shoe­horns too many char­ac­ters and back­sto­ries into a smidgen over 100 min­utes, the ex­pert ac­tion se­quences and a charis­matic turn from Jack­man make it easy to see why this film sparked a long-run­ning fran­chise.

THURS­DAY The Bounty Hunter (2010) (5STAR, 11pm)

Cop-turned-bounty hunter Milo (Ger­ard But­ler) is given the un­en­vi­able task of track­ing down his jour­nal­ist ex-wife Ni­cole (Jen­nifer Anis­ton) af­ter she skips bail. How­ever, she isn’t just any old fugi­tive from jus­tice – she missed her court date be­cause she’s chas­ing a story about a mur­der cover-up. And she’s also be­ing chased by the crim­i­nals she’s been in­ves­ti­gat­ing. This is pre­dictable even by rom­com stan­dards, but you have to give Anis­ton credit for throw­ing her­self into her role. And if the ban­ter be­tween her and But­ler never reaches the heights of the clas­sic screw­ball come­dies it’s clearly aim­ing for, it does at least de­serve points for try­ing.

FRI­DAY The Bourne Legacy (2012) (E4, 9pm)

Deep in the icy wilder­ness of Alaska, black ops agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Ren­ner) is on a train­ing mis­sion when the Black­briar and Tread­stone op­er­a­tions are pub­licly ex­posed. Colonel Eric Byer (Ed­ward Norton), who over­sees se­cret op­er­a­tions for the CIA, de­cides to limit the dam­age by sanc­tion­ing the deaths of Aaron and other mem­bers of Op­er­a­tion Out­come. While other men are slain, Aaron sur­vives mul­ti­ple at­tempts on his life and heads back to civil­i­sa­tion, where he joins forces with ge­neti­cist Dr Marta Shear­ing (Rachel Weisz) to ex­pose dark forces in the CIA. The Bourne Legacy is the only chap­ter with­out Matt Da­mon as the gung-ho hero (he re­turned last year for Ja­son Bourne) and while this mis­sion misses his phys­i­cal and emo­tional in­ten­sity, Ren­ner gives a solid per­for­mance.

Top: Dakota Fan­ning stars in Effie Gray. Above: Fam­ily fun in Happy Feet Two

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