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A Trifecta of Today’s Best Films on the Box

If BC on TV could be sure there would be English subtitles, the top pick would have certainly gone to a superb Danish drama that also works hugely as thriller (The Hunt BEST FILM OF THE DAY, 9.55pm Max). Old Led Zep fans might want to check out Robert Plant Talks Music (2pm DTV).

Today’s number one film:

Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean/ 1962/Adventure-Biograhphy-Drama-History-War/ UK/ 226 mins/ PG) 8.30am Fox Classics. Watch this if you liked The Bridge on the River Kwai, 12 Angry Men or Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. David Lean’s masterpiece tells the largely true tale of the Englishman who meddled in the Middle East in World War I, trying to bring Arab tribes together (towards His Majesty’s advantage). Though the real life TE Lawrence’s brother declared he should not have recognized his own brother from the screen version, Peter O’Toole’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the harrowing change in Lawrence from lighthearted dilettante to burdened war veteran remains the meat of the film, with lots of hefty potatoes supplied in the famous cinematography, score and action set pieces. The criticisms of the film upon release – that it crammed too much history into two hours of adventure cinema, relied on composite characters and simply invented stuff for dramatic purposes – would probably not even arise today. It won six other Oscars, including Best Picture, Director and Cinematography. If only one film in all time deserves the label, “epic”, it’s probably this one.

Also watch:

Insomnia (Christopher Nolan/ 2002/ USA-Canada / Crime-Mystery-Thriller/ 118 mins/ Rated R for language, some violence and brief nudity) 11.40am Paramount. Watch this if you liked Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River or The Machinist. Robin Williams’ sad subtraction – and the even sadder way in which it happened – adds a special poignancy to his role of the villain in Christopher Nolan’s hugely anticipated second feature (at least by everyone who saw Memento). An adaptation of Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s and writer Nikolaj Frobenius’ original screenplay (by Nolan, too, though the only writing credit for the English-language version is given to Hilary Seitz), it may actually be superior. Wally Pfister’s cinematography of the 24-hour daylight of Alaskan summer is as good as anything he did before (Memento) or since (The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Inception). And the performances from Al Pacino, Hilary Swank and the now late Williams are superb. The role – and the title itself – are fitting film noir memorials to a fine dramatic actor for whom life itself was a long dark comedy.

The End of the Tour (James Ponsoldt/ 2015/ USA/ Biography-Drama/ 106 mins/ Rated R for language, including some sexual references), 3.05pm Cinemax. Watch this if you liked Enough Said, The Social Network or Almost Famous. James Ponsoldt’s excellent film about the five-day interview by Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky of David Foster Wallace, author of one of the most famous literary works of the modern age (even though you’ve probably never heard of it) deserved far more notice than it got. Indeed, it won or was nominated for a couple of Most Overlooked Film awards. Although you may never read either book on which the film is founded (Wallace’s Infinite Jest or Lipsky’s Altough Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself), you should make time for two of the finest pieces of dramatic acting you are likely to see in your lifetime; and all the moreso because they have been so undeservedly overlooked; and even all the moreso because one of them comes from Jason “How I Met Your Mother” Segel – although, to be fair, he has turned in at least one powerful dramatic performance before (Jeff, Who Lives at Home).

JUST NOSED OUT:

*The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (Western), 4.15pm FoxClas; **Ex Machina (Sci-fi), 10.15am HBO; **Brokeback Mountain, 4.53pm HBOS; Predator (Sci-fi-Thriller), 9pm FoxClas; How I Live Now (Sci-fi-Teen), 1pm HBOP; *Argo (Thriller), 6.32pm Max; Inherent Vice (Independent), 4.55pm Max; Meet the Fockers (Comedy), 7pm FoxCom, *Little Fockers 9pm FoxCom; **Flatliners (Horror), 7pm FoxClas

ALSO RAN:

Action/Adventure: **Wild, 10.30am FoxMov

Art House/Independent: Little Miss Sunshine (Comedy) 12.25 midday FoxCom; The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Family), 10.30am Max; Lost in Translation (Drama), 1.50pm ISat;

Children/Family: Seabiscuit (Sports), 10.45am HBOS;

Classic: Jean de Florette (French drama), 5.20pm Sund;

Comedy: Crocodile Dundee, 2pm TCM; Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Family), 9.25am FoxCom

Drama: Mud (Crime), 7.15am F+1; Whiplash (Music), 7.15pm HBOS

Foreign: **The Lunchbox (Indian Rom-Com), 7.30 & 9.30am F+1; Les Intouchables (French Comedy-Drama), 2.05pm FoxCom

Horror: *Cloverfield (Creature), 3.30pm FoxMov

Sci-Fi/Fantasy: **Predestination, 6.20pm MaxP;

Thriller: **Guardians of the Galaxy (Superhero), 9pm HBOF

*Starred films have been chosen in the last two years. ** Double-starred films have been chosen in the last two months.

Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.