Films on TV round-up: stand-up comics and stand-up rows

Ed Williamson

12th June 2011

Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, Ray Winstone and Kathy Burke. I know what you're thinking: Bucks Fizz tribute band, right? Wrong. It's this week's weekly round-up of the week's films that we do each week. Weekly. And, arguably, weakly.

Commencing: Monday 13th June 2011

Changeling (2008) Thursday, ITV2, 10pm

Never rated Angelina Jolie much as an actress, personally. She's very good at smouldering, getting her kit off and playing promiscuous/predatory, but not a lot more. Attempts to cast her as anything else generally fall flat on their faces (I'm looking at you, The Good Shepherd). Here's an exception, though: Clint Eastwood's true-story 1920s police corruption drama Changeling, in which she manages to act her little socks off, bless her.

She's a single mother whose son goes missing. When the LAPD think they've found him and bring a kid back, it's not her boy. She tells them so but they won't admit their mistake, under a lot of press attention, and so begins her struggle against a corrupt police force out to discredit her.

You can't fault any of the period costume, set design and so on, the script is simply effective, yet with a nicely-done twist, and Clint directs unshowily, not focusing on any of the more lurid aspects of child abduction, one of his favourite themes.

Not that Clint Eastwood likes abducting children, you understand. He hasn't done that in years.
The King of Comedy (1983) Friday, BBC2, 11.50pm

Often described as 'Scorsese's lost gem' by people who harbour a pathetic desire to show others that they know stuff about films, The King of Comedy is, I would argue, Scorsese's lost gem.

One of his eight hundred or so collaborations with De Niro, this 1983 tale about a wannabe stand-up comedian stripped Bobby D of the macho screen persona he'd usually inhabited and gave him the chance to play a nobody, unsure of himself and wanting to break into a world of celebrity that seems remote, glamorous and exotic.

De Niro's rarely been better: his Rupert Pupkin is lonely and obsessive, constantly fantasising scenarios in which he's a famous TV personality, which the film plays out for us in full. Brilliantly, we're led to presume that he's going to be an awful stand-up, but when we finally get to see him it's a surprise that turns the whole thing on its head – unless, of course, that in itself is another fantasy; we can't be sure.
Nil by Mouth (1997) Tuesday, Film4, 11.05pm

Under the trailers tab at the top of the page (which I mention because I'm not convinced anyone ever notices I've put them there) you can see that Nil by Mouth is rated 'one of the finest films I've ever seen' by no less a luminary than Eric Clapton. Quite why this is supposed to convince you of its worth I'm not sure. If I wrote a book and the publishers wanted to put a recommendation by Brian May on the back cover, I'd think it a bit weird. Unless of course it was a book about building your own guitar out of motorbike parts and bits of an old fireplace.

But he's on to something, is Clappers. As dull as London-set council estate dramas often are – usually because they try and fail to be Boyz n the Hood – Gary Oldman's take on it is tense, shocking and impossible to sit through without flinching.

Plot? Oh, the plot ... well, Ray Winstone's married to Kathy Burke and he beats her up a lot. That's more or less it, other than Burke's brother-in-law's heroin addiction subplot, but Winstone is downright terrifying during the violent scenes, and she's visibly scared of him too. The obvious path to go down would be the theme of her escape, and though it heads that way in the third act, it's not really the point here: this is just one family behind thousands of closed doors in south London, where the same thing's going on every day.

Force yourself to sit through the worst bits, but if it all gets too much just picture them all at Eurovision, doing Making Your Mind Up. Works for me.
Also on this week

Cocoon Monday, Film4, 6.45pm (also Saturday 6.45pm)
Pale Rider Monday, ITV4, 9pm (also Thursday 11.25pm
Walk the Line Monday, Film4, 9pm
The Wicker Man (terrible Nicolas Cage version) Monday, 5*, 9pm
Cleaner Monday, C5, 10pm
Lethal Weapon Monday, ITV1, 10.35pm
The River Wild Monday, ITV2, 11pm
Every Which Way But Loose Tuesday, ITV4, 8pm
Bulletproof Monk Tuesday, Film4, 9pm
The Game Tuesday, ITV1, 10.35pm
Gladiator Tuesday, ITV2, 11pm
American History X Wednesday, ITV4, 12.35am
Big Daddy Wednesday, 5*, 8.10pm
V for Vendetta Wednesday, BBC3, 9pm (also Saturday 9pm)
AVP: Alien vs Predator Wednesday, E4, 9pm
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Wednesday, ITV2, 10pm
Another Stakeout Thursday, Film4, 6.55pm
Superbad Friday, 5*, 9pm
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981 remake) Friday, ITV3, 10pm
The Godfather Friday, More4, 10pm
Se7en Friday, 5USA, 10pm
Basic Instinct Friday, ITV2, 11pm
Full Metal Jacket Friday, ITV4, 11pm
A View to a Kill Saturday, ITV1, 3.25pm
Kung Fu Panda Saturday, BBC1, 6.35pm
Mean Girls Saturday, C4, 7.10pm
Dirty Harry Saturday, ITV4, 9pm
Taken Saturday, Film4, 9pm
Braveheart Saturday, C4, 10.05pm
Notting Hill Saturday, ITV1, 10.15pm
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Saturday, ITV2, 11.05pm
Magnum Force Saturday, ITV4, 11.10pm
Enemy of the State Saturday, BBC1, 11.25pm

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