Films on TV round-up: robots, vampires and WAR

Ed Williamson

29th May 2011

By astonishing coincidence, the key themes of this week's three featured films are exactly those of the script I've been trying to get Hollywood interested in: 'Last Cyborg Out of Saigon: The Bloodsuckening'. Spent three days shopping it round Cannes but there wasn't much take-up, if I'm honest. I mean, I'm not saying it's Citizen Kane or anything but you'd think I'd at least get a call-back off Michael Bay, right?

Commencing: Monday 30th May 2011

WALL-E (2008) Monday, BBC1, 5pm

You've got to hand it to Pixar: those guys are geniuses. Imagine working there. Sit down in a meeting one day and someone's all like: "Hey, what if we did Robinson Crusoe in space, with a robot? Like, a really cute robot?" Then some guy goes off and draws it and you spend the next three years working on one of the best animated features of all time. Plus you'd get more ass than a toilet seat, amirite?

Hundreds of years in the future, mankind has had to abandon Earth because it's covered in garbage, leaving behind only waste disposal robots, of which WALL-E is the last functional one. When he finds a plant growing in amongst all the rubbish, he's visited by EVE, a more advanced female robot with whom he falls in love. (It's a bit like watching a Commodore 64 nervously sidle up to an iPad and ask what kind of music it's into.) The plant is evidence that the Earth is still inhabitable, but mankind has grown fat and lazy and wants to stay on its spaceship where the machines do all the work.

And on paper the whole thing sounds risky, of course. It's an animated dystopian satire on how mass consumerism and our sedentary lifestyles will eventually destroy us, and the first half-hour or so contains no dialogue. But as always Pixar pull more emotional strings with one furrowed robotic eyebrow than a million shitty Jennifer Aniston romcoms. The kids love it and so should you.

Read a full review of WALL-E at TheShiznit.co.uk.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) Wednesday, Film4, 11.10pm

Get Robert Rodriguez directing a Tarantino script and let's face it, you're going to get the most genre-y genre movie you can think of. Or maybe two genres for the price of one: criminals-on-the-run road movie plus gory supernatural horror flick.

Seth and Richie Gecko (George Clooney and Tarantino) are murdering bank robbers trying to get to Mexico, and kidnap lapsed priest Harvey Keitel and his family, including the nutzoid-but-always-great Juliette Lewis, to help them across the border. But when they get to the bar where they're supposed to meet their contact, it turns out to be full of vampires. Which is pretty bad luck, you could say.

Pretty tough gig, making you care whether a murderer and a rapist get bitten to death, but the bad-guy-to-good-guy switch is pretty much seamless, largely because you've had an hour or so to get to know them before all the neck-biting begins in earnest, because the family's survival hinges on theirs, and because Clooney's charming enough to carry it, the bastard. Shit, I could be looking smooth on coffee adverts and taking ten supermodels a week back to my house on Lake Como. I just chose to do this instead.
Saving Private Ryan (1998) Friday, C4, 9pm

Watching the first half-hour of Saving Private Ryan is much like spending an equivalent spell in a corrugated metal shack with someone throwing rocks at it and chucking the odd severed limb through the window to keep you company. Which I guess wouldn't be much of a fun afternoon, especially if you're the kind of Guardian-reading hippy who thinks war is, like, wrong or something.

That's not much of a sell, I know, but stick with it, because if you manage to get through that, you're looking at one of the best war movies ever made. Not as good as Escape to Victory though, obviously.

Tom Hanks is in all-American everyman mode as Captain John Miller, who survives D-Day and then has to lead his battalion on a mission through Normandy to find Private James Ryan, who has a ticket home because his three brothers were all killed in the same week. On the way they get the crap shot out of them a fair bit.

Where this bucked the Second World War movie trend is in showing both sides: it's not just heroic Americans against evil foreigners – the GIs did bad things too. War is an environment where all bets are off, and the good can all too easily lose their own humanity in fighting the bad.

I think that's what it was trying to say, anyway. Then again I've also seen Pearl Harbor, which made a point of playing ominous, evil-sounding music whenever there was a Japanese guy on screen, so I don't know what to believe. Maybe if Michael Bay could find ten lousy minutes in his precious schedule to pick up the phone, I might find out.
Also on this week

The Italian Job (non-Marky Mark version) Monday, C4, 7.10pm
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story Monday, C4, 10pm
A Few Good Men Monday, C5, 10pm
Blazing Saddles Monday, ITV4, 10pm
Unforgiven Tuesday, ITV4, 10pm
Mickey Blue Eyes Tuesday, ITV1, 10.35pm
Good Morning, Vietnam Tuesday, Film4, 10.45pm
Volcano Wednesday, E4, 9pm
Forces of Nature Wednesday, BBC1, 11.15pm
Boogie Nights Thursday, ITV4, 12am
Presumed Innocent Thursday, BBC1, 11.35pm
Monster's Ball Thursday, Film4, 10.55pm
X-Men Friday, Film4, 9pm
From Hell Friday, 5USA, 10pm
American Pie Friday, ITV1, 10.35pm
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Friday, BBC1, 11.30pm
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Saturday, C4, 6.30pm
Kill Bill: Volume Two Saturday, BBC3, 10pm
X-Men: The Last Stand Saturday, C4, 10.15pm
Hot Fuzz Saturday, ITV2, 11pm

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