gremlins 2 the new batch

Here are my recommendations for the best films on Freeview August 5th through to August 11th.

Monday 5th August: Super (2010)

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Film 4, 11.40pm

Super is a refreshing take on the superhero angle. Instead of a freak occurrence determining our hero’s path, it’s actually him dressed up. With a sidekick. To be honest, that sounds like Kick Ass. True. It has one major difference: it’s a far superior effort. It’s raw, it’s bloody and our lead is motivated by winning back his woman. There’s a ton of memorable one liners (“Shut up, crime!”) and an unusual performance from Ellen “Juno” Page.

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Tuesday 6th August: The Towering Inferno (1974)

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Film 4, 3.45pm

When I was a kid, I’d always confuse this with The Poseidon Adventure. Except watching The Towering Inferno I don’t sob uncontrollably when Shelley Winters dies (which is still known to happen.) Back before disaster movies meant big budgets with flaccid dialogue and bugger all originality, there were a glut of them. This one was Oscar nominated for Best Picture! Just goes to show the difference in our cinematic palates nowadays. This time around it’s a huge tower block that gets set on fire and starts to collapse. The cast is friggin’ all star: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, the brilliant Robert Wagner…I could go on. Check this movie out.

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Wednesday 7th August: Heat (1995)

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Film 4, 11.05pm

De Niro. Pacino. Mann. Two of the finest actors, one of the finest directors, a killer storyline, and a grand vision. Crime never looked so damn good onscreen. De Niro plays thief Neil McCauley, with Pacino hot on his heels as Lt. Hanna. Keep your eyes out for an early appearance from Natalie Portman.

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Thursday 8th August: LA Confidential (1997)

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ITV 4, 11.00pm

As if Heat wasn’t enough, here’s another fine crime tale. The cast is supreme, the story tighter than the lid of a jam jar you’re desperate to get into, and you’ll be propelled into its wondrous world of whodunnit? Based on the James Ellroy novel, the film is directed by Curtis Hanson and based in the world of the LAPD during 1953. It follows two cops, Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe in two of their best performances (well, they had something to prove before either of them had hit it big!) You won’t regret taking the time with this one.

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Friday 9th August: Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

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More 4, 9.00pm

Little Miss Sunshine takes your dysfunctional family dynamic and throws it into a van for a cross country road trip to a Little Miss beauty pageant. The dialogue cracks along, the characters are defined so quickly and effortlessly, it’s as if you already know them. Alan Arkin of course steals the day as the cantankerous granddad, but all the cast turn in fantastic performances. Even if their characters are sometimes utter arses.

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Saturday 10th August: 500 Days Of Summer (2009)

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Film 4, 7.10pm

I remember watching this with my other half at a packed cinema in San Francisco. It was so packed we had to sit on the stairs. Thinking it’d be a quirky romantic date movie, we were soon proven wrong. It’s a jet black look at how both parties in a relationship can glean entirely different ideas from the same conversations and encounters. It takes the romantic comedy formula and turns it on its sanctimonious butt. Funny, endearing and with a “huh?” twist at the end.

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Sunday 11th August: Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

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5*, 5.45pm

Alright, alright, so Raging Bull is also on tonight. That’s undoubtedly a brilliant film, featuring on many Best Of lists. However, this is MY list of recommendations and therefore Gremlins 2 bags the last spot of the week. It’s a different creature to the first film, which, is the darkest of dark comedies (Phoebe Cates Christmas story, anyone? Blimey.) Set a few years later, Billy Peltzer is now working for the Clamp company in the big city. Before long, ¬†Gizmo arrives on the scene and someone decides to throw him in a paddling pool with a bucket of fried chicken. After midnight. The scene stealers are of course the Gremlins themselves, amped up with a shot of humour – one highlight includes Cates trapped in an elevator with them. Genius stuff.

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