Films on TV round-up: violent offenders and goodwill to all men-ders

Ed Williamson

19th December 2011

It's finally here. For those anxiously awaiting their official excuses to sit round the TV and stop talking to each other on Christmas Day once they've run out of conversation with their aunts, herewith the films on TV round-up for the festive period.

Commencing: Monday 19th December 2011

Bronson (2008) Christmas Eve, Film4, 11.20pm

I watched Bronson for the first time yesterday as part of an all-day sickbed marathon comprising this week's Life's Too Short, all four episodes of This is England '86, and the films State of Grace and The Devil's Double. Though I was drifting in and out of sleep throughout the day, I'm fairly sure Bronson was a cleverly directed, highly stylised character piece and a showcase for Tom Hardy to be really rather good. Or that might have been Life's Too Short. Wait, which one's the dwarf again?

Directed by Nicholas 'Every Day is a' Winding Refn, who did such a bang-up job on this year's Drive, it's the story of Charles Bronson, born Michael Peterson, who went to jail for seven years in 1974 and still isn't out yet after numerous violent crimes on the inside. Hardy nails Bronson's alternate affable charm and explosive psychosis, all the while acting as the narrator, sometimes from a silent, spotlit stage direct to camera while dressed as a clown.

I was also informed by a female friend the other day that Tom Hardy is quite the Smash Hits Most Fanciable Male, and can confirm for any ladies reading that he gets his winky out quite a lot. Bear in mind, however, if this is your primary reason for watching it, that it's on at exactly the time Father Christmas will be coming down the chimney, and this could pretty much seal the whole naughty/nice deal in one go.
The King's Speech (2011) Christmas Day, Sky Movies Premiere, 8pm

Well, obviously. As if it was ever going to have its TV premiere on any other day.

I choose to highlight The King's Speech as the Christmas Day film not because it's the best - it was a long way off deserving the 2011 Best Picture Oscar, given the competition - but because it's the archetypal family Christmas film, which is just what it was jolly well designed to be. It got the over-50s into cinemas in their droves, and that's a great thing. Except when they're in front of you trying to work the automated ticket machines.

Colin Firth is King George VI, who must struggle to overcome his stammer in order to prove an inspiring leader leading up to the Second World War. He enlists speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to help him out.

It is, as James Franco so wonderfully pointed out before the Oscars, basically just The Karate Kid, but despite the age-old reluctant pupil/mentor structure, there's more to recommend it. The one Academy Award it definitely deserved was Firth's, who portrayed the king's frustration with far fewer deliberately-Oscary set-pieces than I was expecting, and the direction is a lot more cinematic than the critics who called it a two-hour ITV drama gave it credit for.
So this is Christmas. And what have you done? Well, sat on your arse all day eating Cadbury's Heroes and watching films on the telly, historically. Why change now? Happy Christmas, everyone.
Also on this week

Step Brothers Monday, C5, 9pm
Rocky Monday, ITV4, 9pm
Rocky II Monday, ITV4, 11.25pm (also Tuesday, 9pm)
Groundhog Day Tuesday, 5*, 8pm (also Wednesday, 4.55pm)
Nowhere Boy Tuesday, Film4, 9pm
The Bourne Supremacy Tuesday, ITV1, 10.35pm
Forgetting Sarah Marshall Tuesday, ITV2, 11pm
Rocky III Tuesday, ITV4, 11.25pm (also Wednesday, 9pm)
Bad Santa Wednesday, C5, 9pm
Rocky IV Wednesday, ITV4, 11pm (also Thursday, 9pm)
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Wednesday, Film4, 4pm
Rocky V Thursday, ITV4, 10.55pm (also Friday, 9pm)
Shrek Friday, BBC3, 7.35pm
Fight Club Friday, Film4, 11pm

Christmas Eve

Demolition Man ITV4, 12.40am (also 10pm)
E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial ITV1, 3.35pm
The 'Burbs ITV4, 4pm
My Neighbour Totoro Film4, 5.15pm
Dragnet ITV4, 6pm (also Boxing Day, 5.40pm)
Santa Claus: The Movie ITV3, 11pm
Borat E4, 11.05pm
Wall Street More4, 11.50pm

Christmas Day

Happy Feet ITV1, 3.10pm
Ponyo Film4, 5.10pm
Big C4, 5.20pm
The Gruffalo's Child BBC1, 6.30pm
Independence Day E4, 7.55pm
Armageddon BBC3, 8.10pm
Juno Film4, 9pm

Boxing Day

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ITV1, 3.30pm
Shrek 2 BBC1, 4pm
Home Alone C4, 7.05pm
Transformers Film4, 9pm
The Bourne Ultimatum ITV2, 10pm
Gladiator ITV1, 11.15pm

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