Films on TV round-up: one-armed men and one-man armies

Ed Williamson

22nd May 2011

Yeah, pretty clever headline, right? I almost got a job writing headlines for the Daily Mail once, but it fell through because I only knew three synonyms for 'gypsies'.

Commencing: Monday 23rd May 2011

The Fugitive (1993) Tuesday, ITV2, 12.05am

Once, in a hotel room in Chicago, I settled down on the bed mid-morning, having overdone it on the breakfast waffles, and channel-flicked for a little while. Before long I chanced upon The Fugitive, and though I'd seen it at least five times before, the hour or so I spent watching it, contentedly drifting in and out of sugar-sated sleep, was probably the happiest I'll ever be.

If you don't know this already I want nothing more to do with you, but Harrison Ford is Dr Richard Kimble, falsely convicted of murdering his wife, who is handed a chance to escape and sets about trying to prove his innocence, pursued by US Marshal Tommy Lee Jones. What follows is a perfectly-paced chase thriller that makes you like and sympathise with the hunter and the hunted at the same time.

Seriously, I can't even watch this clip without going out to set up checkpoints at fifteen miles. And I don't even know what that means.

It might even have won the Oscar if it wasn't for Schindler's List. Damn you, Holocaust!
Carlito's Way (1993) Tuesday, ITV4, 11.15pm (also Wednesday 10pm)

One topic I briefly considered before deciding to write my university dissertation on Tom Hanks (you're looking at one of the UK's foremost Hanksologists - that's science, bitch) was mapping the career of Al Pacino by trying to pinpoint the exact point at which his voice changed from the soft-spoken whine of The Godfather and Serpico to being all "HOO-HAHH!" I soon dismissed the idea on the grounds that it had no academic merit of any sort, but thought it would probably one day make a vaguely diverting introduction to a synopsis of one of his films for a TV news website.

And so it kind of proves. Carlito Brigante, recently freed from a long stay in prison on a technicality, sets about trying to earn himself the $75,000 he needs to retire to the Caribbean and finally go straight. But the obstacles in his way conspire against him, like New York's criminal community refusing to believe he's out of the game, an upstart called Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo) wanting to start a war with him, and his lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) getting into deep water with the Mob.

Pacino brings his A-game to what could've been over-familiar 'one last job' plot territory, but it's Sean Penn who steals it: Kleinfeld is a weaselly, paranoid egomaniac who crosses the line from representing criminals into becoming one, thinking he can deal with the consequences, and when he starts to spiral out of control it's a treat to watch.
Kill Bill: Volume One (2003) Saturday, BBC3, 9.45pm

The first in Tarantino's two-part (or potentially three-part, to the extent that you can take what he says with anything other than a shakerful of salt) revenge saga, starring Uma Thurman as The Bride, brutally shot on her wedding day by Bill and her former crew, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. As the name suggests, they're not a firm of quantity surveyors but a disparate bunch of ruthless killers, whom she starts to find and pick off one by one to avenge the baby she lost in the attack.

This is Tarantino at his most heavily stylised, a mish-mash of nods to Japanese samurai movies, spaghetti westerns, seventies kung fu cinema and, I don't know, probably Honey I Shrunk the Kids for all I know, but at its heart is a simple, compelling revenge plot. Worth watching for the blood-soaked, expertly-choreographed, half-hour Tokyo fight scene alone.

Shame it's only the first one on, because the two really should be watched back-to-back as one film. So if you have the second on DVD, stick that on afterwards. Then again, if you've got the second one, you've probably got the first too. So just watch them whenever you like, I guess. What do you need me for? Sometimes I wonder why I bother.
Also on this week

The Shining Monday, ITV4, 10.10pm
Tango & Cash Monday, ITV1, 10.35pm
The Last King of Scotland Tuesday, Film4, 9pm
The Wedding Singer Wednesday, 5*, 8pm (also Friday 9pm)
Election Wednesday, E4, 9pm
Jaws: The Revenge Thursday, ITV4, 8.10pm
Good Morning, Vietnam Thursday, Film4, 9pm
Enter the Dragon Thursday, ITV4, 10pm
Working Girl Friday, More4, 9pm
Unforgiven Friday, ITV4, 10pm
Lucky Number Slevin Friday, Film4, 10.50pm
For Your Eyes Only Saturday, ITV1, 3.10pm
The Deer Hunter Saturday, ITV4, 9.50pm
Face/Off Saturday, BBC1, 10.25pm
From Dusk Till Dawn Saturday, Film4, 10.55pm

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