Films on TV round-up: capering cops and caped crusaders

Ed Williamson

5th June 2011

Ever wondered why this feature never covers any films from the Sunday? OK, I'll rephrase that: ever given a moment's consideration to the content of anything in this feature? In this whole fucking website, beyond a fleeting thought of 'Ha ha, I like it when they say Ashton Kutcher's a dickhead'? No? Well, I'll tell you anyway. It's because I write it on Sundays, and the listings on tvguide.co.uk only go as far as the next week. Not that you care. Hope you choke on it.

Commencing: Monday 6th June 2011

Hot Fuzz (2007) Wednesday, ITV2, 9pm

God, I'm proud to be British. If we're not being laughably vainglorious as a major sporting event approaches, instinctively rejecting the cultural practices of anyone different to us or fostering an utterly unfounded sense of superiority over other nations because they have the temerity to be friendly to us when we visit, we're ... well, making comedies. And drinking tea.

But it's more the comedies I want to focus on here. It's one thing we've always done well, albeit mainly on TV rather than in film. When they've gone big-screen they've generally ended up being about tits. Which I like as much as the next guy, but I've never found them all that funny.

There aren't any tits in Hot Fuzz. PC Nick Angel (Simon Pegg) is the most successful officer in the Metropolitan Police, before his superiors transfer him to Sandford in Gloucestershire because he's making them look bad. At first it seems like there's nothing much to police there, but gradually a series of brutal murders start happening, and Angel finds himself up against a village full of suspects and a station full of colleagues who don't want the boat rocked, with only an incompetent sidekick (Nick Frost) for company.

And you know what? It's really funny. Pegg plays it straight as the by-the-book automaton cop, Frost picks up a load of laughs in familiar tubby-ingénue mode, and it's backed up by the strongest British supporting cast in years, including Jim Broadbent, an inspired choice of villain in Timothy Dalton, and in particular a great comic turn by Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall as the pair of detectives who don't want Angel on their patch. ("You want to be a big cop in a small town? Fuck off up the model village!")

Yeah! Take that, Hollywood! Anything you can do, we can do better! (Um, but could you keep sending us films all the time please? We've only got the money to do it once every five years. Sorry to bother you. Thanks.)

Read a full review of Hot Fuzz at TheShiznit.co.uk.
Falling Down (1993) Tuesday, ITV1, 10.35pm

Never been all that convinced by Michael Douglas. I'm just not sure what he's for. Though he was briefly a huge deal in the early 90s as a foil for men to legitimately look at Sharon Stone's vagina or Demi Moore's rack, it never seemed to me that he was much use for anything else other than Gordon Gekko and this.

'This' is Falling Down, Joel Schumacher's one-lone-nut drama about a guy who abandons his car one day in a Los Angeles traffic jam and sets about walking 'home', where his wife and child are. Trouble is, he's estranged from them and his wife's taken out a restraining order. As he makes progress through LA he encounters every subculture going, from Mexican gangs to far-right extremists, and becomes a reluctant vigilante cause célèbre.

Schumacher's main achievement is how claustrophobic he makes a sweltering hot day in LA feel; one of those films where the city becomes a character in its own right. Douglas is on probably the best form of his career, and Robert Duvall is also great as the cop who has to stop him on his last day before retirement.

If I was a retiring cop, I'd probably just take my last day as paid holiday. Otherwise you're bound to get shot or something like that, right? The movies say so, and that makes it true.
Batman Begins (2005) Saturday, ITV1, 9.55pm

As great as Joel Schumacher made Falling Down, it's hard to forgive him for turning the Batman franchise into a big, leotard-clad Village People video. Fortunately, along came Christopher Nolan and rebooted the whole thing back into dark, noir realism territory (as realistic as you can get when you're talking about a guy who dresses up as a bat to fight crime, anyway).

This is your classic superhero origin story: we see Bruce Wayne's parents murdered, and then his initial desire for revenge against Carmine Falcone, the mobster who ordered it, channelled into a search for a higher calling, which leads him to train as a ninja under Ra's al Ghul. But Ra's turns out to be training Bruce to destroy Gotham City, which Bruce doesn't fancy doing because, y'know, all his stuff's there and it'd be expensive to replace.

In many ways a better film than its much-jizzed-over sequel The Dark Knight, Batman Begins is dark, suspenseful and character-rich. Nolan wanted an all-star cast where big names play relatively small roles, in the same vein as Superman: The Movie, and it's a hiring policy that paid off, with key turns from Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Tom Wilkinson, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Katie Holmes all backing up Christian Bale, who has the good sense not to overdo it in a role that doesn't require anything showy.

Read a full review of Batman Begins at TheShiznit.co.uk.

So that's that. Tune in next week, kids. Same Bat-place. More or less the same Bat-time, depending on when I get up.
Also on this week

Edward Scissorhands Monday, Film4, 6.55pm
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Monday, Film4, 9pm
Crank Monday, ITV4, 10pm (also Friday 12.25am
Taking Lives Monday, ITV1, 10.35pm
Gothika Monday, C5, 11pm
Daylight Tuesday, ITV2, 9pm
Walk the Line Tuesday, Film4, 9pm
The Madness of King George Wednesday, Film4, 6.50pm
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny Wednesday, E4, 9pm
Kill Bill: Volume Two Wednesday, BBC3, 10pm
We Own the Night Wednesday, ITV4, 10pm
The Thing Thursday, ITV4, 12.20am
Outlaw Thursday, C5, 10pm
American History X Thursday, ITV4, 10pm
Ip Man Thursday, Film4, 10.40pm
Gladiator Friday, ITV2, 9pm
Universal Solider: The Return Friday, 5USA, 9pm
Land of the Dead Friday, ITV4, 10pm
Hamburger Hill Friday, 5USA, 10.40pm
Brazil Friday, BBC2, 11.50pm
Octopussy Saturday, ITV1, 3.10pm
See No Evil, Hear No Evil Saturday, C5, 5.10pm
Another Stakeout Saturday, Film4, 6.55pm
Ice Age: The Meltdown Saturday, ITV1, 7pm
The Shawshank Redemption Saturday, ITV2, 9pm
Full Metal Jacket Saturday, ITV4, 10.10pm
The Quick and the Dead Saturday, C4, 11.05pm
City Hall Saturday, BBC1, 11.35pm

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