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A Trifecta of Today’s Best Films on the Box

As usual, the DirecTV Channel is the best bet for guitar lovers, with the great Buddy Guy OnStage (1pm DTV). Though they’re not on “real” movie channels, you get a rare cable chance to see, back-to-back, arguably one of the best sci-fi movies ever shot (Alien, 10.50am AMC) and definitely the best Vietnam movie masquerading as a sci-fi one ever shot (Aliens, 1.20pm AMC) as well as the best sci-fi trilogy not starring Michael J Fox (The Terminator, 10.17am Edge, **Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 12.29 midday Spac, T3: The Rise of the Machines, 3.05pm Spac). Spanish speakers can enjoy what may be the best film ever shot with child lead actors (Conducta, 6.10pm Cine Latino).

Today’s number one film:

No Country for Old Men (Coen Bros/2007/ USA/ Suspense-Crime-Drama- Thriller/ 122 mins), 8.45am Fox Action BEST FILM OF THE DAY. Watch this if you liked Apocalypse Now, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada or any film by Sam Peckinpah. Part thriller, part Western, as upsetting as it is intriguing, this modern-day drug money heist flick is Cormac McCarthy’s bleak 2005 novel brought to life. It was a natural fit for the Coen Bros’ dark humour and deadpan violence, but it is so overwhelmingly hopeless, it discourages anyone from declaring it their best film yet (though it probably is). Relentless as thriller, hard as nails as a crime film, draining as drama and despairing in its artistic perspective, it is almost completely loyal to its source; and the film leaves the viewer as bewilderingly satisfied and distressed as the book does the reader. It takes far more than it gives and is not for those seeking distraction; but, as provocative art, it is undeniable, unassailable and almost ummatched.

Also watch:

42 aka 42: The Jackie Robinson Story (Brian Helgeland/ 2013/ USA/ Biography –Drama-Sport/ 128 mins/ Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, including language) 1.40pm HBO Signature. Watch this if you liked The Hurricane, Invictus or The Blind Side. Looking back from the age of an American president Americans would call black, it’s hard to remember, sometimes, that the Civil Rights Movement was in near full swing a scant half-century ago. This remarkable biography of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the colour bar in US baseball, is a beautifully made reminder of how ugly the time was – and how strong the individual, Jackie Robinson, was, to stand alone against the baseball world. Touching to the point of poignancy in parts, distressing to distraction in others, excellent throughout, this is as good as real life biography gets; even if the liberal might worry about a feelgood element threatening to creep in and pass itself off as pride. Exceptional.

Spy (Paul Feig/ 2015/ Action-Comedy-Crime/ USA/ 119 mins/ R for language throughout, some sexual content including brief graphic nudity and violence) 6pm Fox Comedy. Watch this if you liked Horrible Bosses, Deadpool or Kingsman: The Secret Service. The best part Melissa McCarthy ever had was probably the unedited riff at the end of the credits in This is 40, a minute or two in which her unrestrained comic mastery soared for too short a time; the lead in Spy offers her the second-best chance she’s got so far – and nearly two full hours – to make hilarious comedy out of just herself, her situation and her incredible comic timing. The vehicle of the movie – she is bumped up from the desk jockey speaking into Jude Law’s James Bond-style secret agent’s earpiece into an actual in-field spy – doesn’t matter as much as how far she can drive it; and she takes it to hilarious comedy places. Not a literary worth by any stretch of the imagination but very, very funny, with more laughs being had in proportion to the attention paid.

JUST NOSED OUT:

Bully (Documentary), 8.30am ISat; Inglorious Basterds (Action-Thriller-War), 5.20pm HBOP; A Scanner Darkly (Sci-fi-Drama), 4.50pm MaxP; **Ex Machina (Sci-fi-Thriller), 4.30pm Max; Dawn of the Dead (Zombie horror), 7.15pm FoxMov; Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (Sci-fi-Fantasy), 3pm HBOC; Brother Bear (Animated-Family), 10am HBOF; Dumb & Dumber (Stoner comedy), 9.10am HBO; Fright Night (1985 original horror), 6.55am MaxP; South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Stoner comedy), 2.36pm HBOP;

ALSO RAN:

Action/Adventure: **Wild, 10.35am FoxMov

Art House/Independent: Whiplash, 9pm Max

Biography: Made in Dagenham, 1.50pm ISat; American Sniper, 5.15pm MaxP

Children/Family: Alice in Wonderland (Johnny Depp), 9.58am & 6.45pm Max

Classic: *Groundhog Day (Existential comedy), 6.05pm TCM

Comedy: **We’re the Millers, 3.15pm HBO; Johnny English Reborn, 2.30pm FoxCom

Drama: **Matchstick Men (Crime-Comedy), 9.18am HBOP;

Foreign: Open Your Eyes (Abre los Ojos) (Sci-fi-Fantasy), 8.20am FoxCin

Horror: Dracula Untold, 3.40pm HBOP

Sci-fi-Fantasy: Star Trek (Eric Bana), 4.55pm CnCl

Thriller: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Crime), 7.45am HBOP; Stretch (Crime), 11.30am MaxP

War: Valkyrie, 2.35pm CnCl

Western: 3.10 to Yuma (Christian Bale), 7pm HBOP

*Starred films have been chosen in the last year. ** Double-starred films have been chosen in the last two months. Particularly strong Also Ran choices are bolded.

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