The Herald - The Herald Magazine
THIS WEEK’S BEST FILMS
MONDAY The Greatest Showman (2017) (Film4, 9pm)
Arguably 2018’s biggest sleeper hit, this musical stars Hugh Jackman as the legendary PT Barnum, a tailor’s son who falls under the spell of privileged Charity Hallett (Michelle Williams). They live modestly until PT blags a $10,000 bank loan for a museum of living curiosities. The exhibits include bearded lady Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), dwarf Charles Stratton (Sam Humphrey) and highflying trapeze siblings WD and Anne Wheeler (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Zendaya). Sardonic newspaper critic James Gordon Bennett (Paul Sparks) denounces the enterprise as “a primitive circus of humbug” but the public disagrees, as does investor Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron). The Greatest Showman is a joy-infused blast of pure pleasure that calibrates every swoon of romance and doff of a top hat with masterful precision.
The Krays (1990) (ITV4, 9pm)
Spandau Ballet siblings Gary and Martin Kemp may have seemed unlikely casting at the time but they are impressive as Ronnie and Reggie, the vicious Kray twins who ruled Sixties London’s underworld with fear and violence. The result is a stark and occasionally brutal drama, which deals well with the complex influences – maternal power, filial devotion and homosexual tension – that shaped the thugs. Billie Whitelaw gives a powerful performance as the boys’ doting but wily mother, and it’s arguably superior to the more recent take on the Krays’ story, Legend.
Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) (Film4, 6.50pm) Simon Curtis’s handsome drama exposes the anguish and resentment that festered beneath the Hundred Acre Wood. AA Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) returns to London from the trenches, where he witnessed hundreds of his countrymen cut down in their prime. Angered by the senseless loss of life, Milne abandons the capital for a quaint house in Ashdown Forest, in East Sussex, where a walk with his young son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston) fires his imagination. Milne develops the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, which magically bring to life
his son’s menagerie of stuffed toys, but while the books become a success, Christopher Robin struggles to deal with his new-found fame.
Crimson Tide (1995) (ITV4, 9pm)
A Russian nuclear missile base falls into nationalist hands and a US strategic submarine is ordered to prepare for a pre-emptive strike if the rebels begin fuelling their weapons. With the world poised on the brink of war, tensions are running high, and the vessel’s veteran captain clashes with his new by-the-book first mate over what course of action to take when they can’t confirm their attack orders. Tony Scott’s claustrophobic thriller has so much tension you could cut it with a knife. Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington are superb as the US navy officers whose difference of opinion leads to mutiny and a life-or-death battle of wills over the crew. Hans Zimmer’s electronic orchestration takes the tense atmosphere to a whole new level. With Matt Craven, George Dzundza and Viggo Mortensen.
WEDNESDAY In the Line of Fire (1993) (Sony Movies, 9pm)
Secret service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is still haunted by his failure to save JFK. Thirty years later, a CIA-trained assassin (John Malkovich) torments Frank, telling him he’s going to kill the US President, and wants the ageing agent to try to foil his plan.
Everyone thinks Frank is losing the plot – until disaster looks set to strike in Dallas. Eastwood and Malkovich are at their acting best in this edge-of-your-seat cat-and-mouse thriller from director Wolfgang Petersen. Taking a break from being behind the camera (his previous venture was the massively successful Unforgiven), this is certainly one of Clint’s most exciting projects and the man who usually plays mean and moody characters brings a rare degree of warmth to his role.
Snowpiercer (2013) (Film4, 11.50pm)
Before he directed Parasite, the
first foreign language film to win the best picture Oscar, Bong Joon-ho made his English-language debut with the dark fantasy thriller Snowpiercer. Boasting an impressive cast including Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell and Parasite’s Song Kang-ho, it’s set in the future where a failed experiment to end global warming has turned the Earth into an uninhabitable frozen wasteland. What’s left of humanity is confined to a high-speed train, where passengers are divided by class – but a revolution is afoot. The film only had a limited cinema release in the US but was enough of a critical hit to lead to a spin-off TV series.
THURSDAY The Martian (2015) (Film4, 9pm)
The six-strong crew of the Ares 3, led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), are gathering samples on Mars when sensors pick up an approaching storm. Lewis gives the order to evacuate and, during the trek back to the ship, botanist Mark Watney (Matt
Damon) is hit by flying debris. Believing him to be dead, the rest of the crew blast off without him. Little do they realise that, back on Mars, Watney is alive. Meanwhile on Earth, the Nasa top brass cut corners to let Mark know the cavalry is coming but can he last until they arrive? Adapted from the bestselling novel by Andy Weir, Ridley Scott’s film is a riveting survival thriller set 140million miles from home, which bears obvious similarities to the Oscar-winning Gravity in both set-up and execution.
The Man with the Iron Heart (2017) (BBC4, 10pm)
French director Cedric Jimenez and co-writers Audrey Diwan and David Farr traverse similar historical ground to Sean Ellis’s acclaimed 2016 film Anthropoid, dramatising the 1942 plot to assassinate highranking Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, who was one of the architects of the Final Solution. Heydrich (Jason Clarke) is courtmartialled for his disreputable behaviour and dismissed from the German navy. He subsequently becomes romantically involved with Lina von Osten (Rosamund Pike) and she encourages him to become
an active member of the Nazi Party. Reinhard clambers up the ranks and spearheads the Sicherheitsdienst intelligence agency at the behest of Heinrich Himmler (Stephen Graham). He eventually moves to Prague where members of the Czechoslovak resistance conceive a plan to execute Heydrich.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)
This slickly executed thriller resuscitates Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s avenging angel Lisbeth Salander, now played by The Crown’s Claire Foy. Computer scientist Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant) hires Lisbeth to hack the servers of the National Security Agency (NSA) and steal his FireFall application, which can access the world’s nuclear codes. Lisbeth’s actions attract the attention of NSA agent Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), who travels to Sweden to retrieve the stolen software and bring the hacker to justice. After masked assailants storm
Lisbeth’s hi-tech lair and leave her for dead, the battered and bruised heroine reluctantly re-establishes contact with tenacious journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason).
Philomena (2013) (BBC1, 11.35pm)
Jane Lee (Anna Maxwell Martin) discovers her Irish mother Philomena (Judi Dench) fell pregnant as a teenager in 1952 and was forced to give up the baby to the sisters at Roscrea Abbey. Jane pitches the story to former Labour adviser-turned-BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), who initially scoffs at the suggestion he should pen an article about the matriarch and her heartbreaking ordeal. After a reality check from his wife Kate (Simone Lahbib), Martin agrees to help Philomena track down her boy. The tender and unexpectedly touching relationship that forms between these two characters from different generations and backgrounds provides Stephen Frears’ uplifting film with its emotional thrust, as the search for answers moves between continents.