PICK OF THE BEST FILMS

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - COM­PILED BY ALI­SON ROWAT

CHRISTMAS DAY Sin­gin’ in the Rain (U) Chan­nel 5, 1.05pm

Not just a won­der­ful mu­si­cal but the best film about movie mak­ing ever made. Stan­ley Do­nen and Gene Kelly (yes, he could di­rect too) are at the helm as this tale about the ar­rival of the talkies un­folds. Kelly, Don­ald O’Con­nor and Deb­bie Reynolds are uni­formly bril­liant in rou­tines run­ning from Good Morn­ing to the ti­tle scene, but it is Jean Ha­gen as Lina La­mont, the star with a voice made for si­lent movies, who makes me laugh ev­ery time. A pic­ture that’s still fresh as a fall­ing rain­drop de­spite be­ing, can you be­lieve it, 65-years-old.

Cin­derella (U) BBC One, 3.10pm

Ken­neth Branagh called on chums old and new for this truly scrump­tious live ac­tion ver­sion of the clas­sic fairy­tale. In the star­ring role in Dis­ney’s 2015 mu­si­cal is The Dress, and af­ter that it is the ac­tor wear­ing The Dress, Lily James, for­merly of Down­ton Abbey, who plays the gal that loses a shoe and gained a prince. He’s played by Scot­land’s Richard Mad­den, who also scrubs up nicely. Join­ing them in do­ing their bit for dear, dear Ken­neth are Cate Blanchett (who makes an ace wicked step­mother), Derek Ja­cobi as the king, and He­lena Bon­ham Carter as, what else, the fairy god­mother.

BOX­ING DAY Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off (15) STV, 9.25am

To para­phrase the tit­u­lar hero of John Hughes’ clas­sic com­edy from 1986: Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and watch FBDO once in a while you are miss­ing a gen­uine treat. Matthew Brod­er­ick is the high school kid who fan­cies a day off with his pals. Eight hours of do­ing things far more ex­cit­ing than crash­ing on the sofa and play­ing Grand Theft Auto fol­low. John Hughes is beloved to many for his teen com­edy drama The Break­fast Club, but for my money and fried egg sand­wich, this 1986 of­fer­ing is more of a keeper.

Padding­ton (PG) Film 4, 2.55pm

Ev­ery su­per­hero needs an ori­gins story, and if you were charmed by the re­cently re­leased Padding­ton 2 you’ll want to check out this 2014 tale of how the lit­tle bear came to Bri­tain from Peru. Had Padding­ton rocked up at im­mi­gra­tion today, he would prob­a­bly be given a hard stare and de­ported for not hav­ing a visa. For­tu­nately, he meets the Brown fam­ily (dad Hugh Bon­neville, mum Sally Hawkins and their screen kids) in­stead and all is well. Ben Whishaw is pitch per­fect as the bear who be­lieves what his Aunt Lucy told him: If you are kind and po­lite the world will be right.

Juras­sic World (12) STV, 6.40pm

Okay, it’s a fair cop. Noth­ing is ever quite go­ing to match the thrill of see­ing Spiel­berg’s orig­i­nal 1993 movie, com­plete with T-Rex v Jeep car chase, but don’t dis­count Colin Trevor­row’s 2015 ac­tion ad­ven­ture. For a start, it has Hol­ly­wood’s most lov­able big lug, Chris Pratt, as a rap­tor whis­perer, and Bryce Dal­las Howard as the busy-busy aunt whose neph­ews come to stay. The spe­cial ef­fects, too, show how much the craft has come on since Richard At­ten­bor­ough and Jeff Gold­blum’s day. Wouldn’t you know it, some­one has opened a new park on the site of the old one. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

Ex Machina (15) Film 4, 9pm

2017 was the year when we be­gan to fret se­ri­ously about ro­bots tak­ing over ev­ery­thing from our jobs to our cars. If you re­ally want to be spooked about how far the tech revo­lu­tion could go, check out this 2014 chiller from 28 Days Later writer Alex Gar­land. Os­car Isaac plays Nathan, a silly-rich en­tre­pre­neur liv­ing in a grand de­signer dream home be­yond the imag­in­ings of even Kevin McCloud. New­bie pro­gram­mer Domh­nall Glee­son re­ceives a cov­eted in­vi­ta­tion to meet the boss, and his charm­ing new ac­quain­tance, Ava (Ali­cia Vikan­der). Drop dead stylish and fizzing with ideas, it de­servedly won an Os­car for its vis­ual ef­fects.

WED­NES­DAY Sun­shine on Leith (PG) Chan­nel 4, 1.15pm

Pro­claimer fans go no fur­ther than Dex­ter Fletcher’s won­der­fully feel­good 2013 mu­si­cal. As in the stage play, the tale cen­tres around two squad­die pals com­ing home to Ed­in­burgh to see the folks. Much crow­bar­ring in of songs fol­lows, the whole thing is shame­lessly sen­ti­men­tal and com­pletely daft, but af­ter view­ing you’ll walk 500 miles with a smile on your face. Kevin Guthrie, Jane Hor­rocks and Peter Mul­lan (whose grav­elly singing voice makes Lee Marvin sound like Char­lotte Church) star.

THURS­DAY Flight (15) Chan­nel 5, 9pm

How is this for a dream team: Robert Ze­meckis (Back to the Fu­ture, For­rest Gump) di­rect­ing and Den­zel Wash­ing­ton in the lead in a story of sur­vival up in the air and down on the ground. Wash­ing­ton plays Whip Whi­taker, a pi­lot whose skills and dar­ing save many lives when trou­ble comes call­ing at 36,000ft. But when he wakes in hospi­tal, Whi­taker finds the au­thor­i­ties have some ques­tions. But des he have all the an­swers? Not for ner­vous fly­ers.

Alan Par­tridge: Al­pha Papa (15) BBC Two, 11.30pm

There are two par­tridges in the pear tree this Christmas. There’s a BBC Two doc­u­men­tary this Wed­nes­day trac­ing the rise and rise of Steve Coogan’s char­ac­ter, and the day af­ter there is this back-of-the-net com­edy from 2013. The orig­i­nal writ­ing team, in­clud­ing Scot­land (and Veep’s) Ar­mando Ian­nucci are on duty as our “hero” be­comes caught up in a ra­dio sta­tion siege.

FRI­DAY Gone Girl (18) BBC One, 9.15pm

Ah, Gone Girl. The novel by Gil­lian Flynn that sold a gazil­lion copies and led to lots of other mys­tery thrillers with girl in the ti­tle and this 2014 movie adap­ta­tion. On the plus side it has David Fincher (Zo­diac, Mind­hunter) di­rect­ing and Rosamund Pike as the wife who goes miss­ing, leav­ing a moun­tain of ques­tions for her hus­band (Ben Af­fleck) to an­swer. On the not so plus side, un­less you are one of the rare folk not to have read the book you will know how it turns out.

From top: Rosamund Pike and Ben Af­fleck star in Gone Girl; An­to­nia Thomas in Sun­shine on Leith; and Steve Coogan in Alan Par­tridge: Al­pha Papa

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