Films on TV round-up: families of all kinds

Kirsty Harrison

25th September 2011

Another week, another selection of X-Men related movies on ITV2. Thankfully, there are other channels and many, many other films to watch. I haven't got a lot of time to waste talking about them, as Ryan Reynolds' M&S adverts aren't going to watch themselves. So let's go, chop chop!

Commencing: Monday 26th September 2011

Sidebar: One of these movies isn't based on a true story. Can you guess which?

Cinema Verite (2011) Tuesday, 10pm, Sky Atlantic

Made by HBO, Cinema Verite is a drama based on the real-life events surrounding the first ever reality TV show. In 1973, American channel PBS introduced the world to the Loud family in their documentary, An American Family.

A forerunner to any fly-on-the-wall documentary you care to name, the family shot to fame and, as is almost always the case, were vilified by press and public. Due in no small part to Lance Loud, the eldest son, who made no bones about his sexuality; he took his mother and the cameras to a drag show and was marvellously camp the whole time. Darling.

What Cinema Verite does is try and show what was happening behind the camera while this seemingly perfect family's life was kind of smashed into pieces in front of it.

Lucky for HBO there is a slew of first-hand accounts available as most of the family and crew stuck themselves onto the chat-show circuit to defend themselves and their work.

Cinema Verite stars Diane Lane, Tim Robbins, Thomas Dekker and James Gandolfini, all of whom turn in excellent, subtle, performances (especially Dekker). It's difficult to watch the innocence of a family be exploited, but at the same time fascinating to see how fragile marriage and family can be when it's held up for scrutiny. Unfortunately, the original series isn't available anywhere, not even YouTube. It's repeated for a while on Sky Atlantic: I'd really recommend catching it.
Jumper (2008) Wednesday, 8pm, E4

I have no idea what this film is about and I've seen it. One and a half times.

David Rice (Hayden Christensen) is an asshat. Since he was a teenager, he's had the ability to teleport himself from place to place in the blink of an eye. Obviously, being a douche, he uses this ability to party and steal money and never once considers it might be nice to jump into a burning building and save some kids or something.

Anyway, he manages never to 'jump' in front of a bus and lives his life in a whirl of hedonism. Then someone starts hunting him, and he makes out with Rachel Bilson and fights bad guys briefly all over the world. It looks beautiful, but that's about it.

It is quite lacking in both chemistry and action. The idea has legs, but Alan Cumming's blue X-Man mutant was a much more interesting teleporter and all-round character. Frankly I'd rather look at those Dogtanian jumpers up there for 90 minutes. (*singing* "One for all and all for one, Hay-den Chris-ten-sen is rubbish...")
Goodfellas (1990) Friday, 10pm, ITV4

I cannot in good conscience recommend you watch any of the other movies on at 10pm on Friday (Terminator 3, 10,000 BC, The Way of the Dragon [also great]) without highlighting Goodfellas.

I once watched this with a friend who commented at one point, "Hey, this looks like Spaced. They must be really pissed off this guy stole their thing."

I kicked him out and we don't talk anymore.

Goodfellas is a masterpiece of cinema, crackling with brutality and razor-sharp wit. It doesn't glamorise organised crime; it doesn't have to - everyone knows that if you have a lot of money you can buy pretty ladies fur coats and keep yourself in Italian suits. It's seductive. Then the reality pistol-whips you in the form of random acts of mindless violence and you abruptly remember that these are the really bad guys, for all their honour-amongst-thieves nobility.

The violent and mostly-true story of the rise and fall of Mafia wiseguy Henry Hill in the 60s and 70s, Scorsese's Goodfellas is obviously classic cinema. If you haven't seen it, please watch. It will blow your mind from the first frame to the end credits.
American Gangster (2007) Saturday, 10.30pm, ITV4

In April 2000, New York Magazine ran a piece entitled 'Return of Superfly', a gripping, honest account of heroin-dealing in the early 70s straight from the horse's mouth. That horse being one Frank Lucas, at that point 69, old and only too happy to spill the beans.

Universal Studios bought the rights to the article and in 2007 Ridley Scott, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe made it into a fascinating movie.

Rising from henchman to head honcho, Frank sells the best smack in town, 'Blue Magic'. It's pure, because he gets it straight from Thailand, and he keeps his prices down because he's one smart hustler who understands the economics of supply and demand. It's the best, so people will always come back for more. He runs an honest operation, keeps his nose clean and remains - for the most part - a respectable upstanding ... criminal.

Whilst Frank is rising through the ranks and claiming Harlem as his stomping ground, Newark PD detective Richie Roberts is busy being painfully honest in his job - through his unfailing sense of right, his partner ends up an exiled smack addict OD'ing on 'Blue Magic'. A vendetta ensues.

Washington and Crowe are deadly onscreen: Denzel's channelling his usual quiet grace but adding an unsettling menace behind the dazzling smile; Crowe is doing what he does best - schulmpy, unkempt, single-minded and dead set on justice. Richie and Frank's scenes together are mesmerising.

Since the film's release, much of what Lucas claimed in his memoir has turned out to be ... less than honest. What can you expect from a smack dealer? And whoever let facts get in the way of a good story?

Also on this week:

Swordfish Monday, 9pm, 5*
The Hitched Monday, 10pm, ITV4
Timecop Tuesday, 9pm, 5USA
Tomorrow Never Dies Tuesday, 9pm, ITV2
Miss Congeniality Wednesday, 7.50pm, ITV2
The Island Wednesday, 9pm, ITV4
Scarface Thursday, 10.35pm, ITV4
You, Me and Dupree Thursday, 10.45pm, ITV2
10,000 BC Friday, 9pm, 5*
Veronica Guerin Friday, 11.45pm, BBC1

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