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A Trifecta of Today’s Best Films on the Box

Today’s number one film:

Pleasantville, 12 midday MaxU. Watch this if you liked The Truman Show, Groundhog Day or Stranger Than Fiction. An excellent film on all levels, starting with an outstanding script and backed by flawless direction and magnificent performances. Technically it is not only sound but ground-breaking, with the medium of cinema itself being used to make the film’s points, via colour taking over the black & white screen as the spirit of rebellion and free thinking spreads. Thoroughly wathcable and immensely rewarding. Inspired, quite close to genius filmmaking, actually, and all the more admirable because it is unapologetically, thoroughly All-American. Recommended like a chocolate shake before the prom and heavy petting after. Directed by Gary Ross/ 1998/ USA/ Fantasy-Drama/ 124 mins/ B&W and colour/ PG-13 for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language.

Also watch:

American Splendour, 7.10am HBO Signature. Watch this if you liked A Scanner Darkly, Persepolis or Daredevil. The partially animated, partially real film biography of Harvey Pekar, who wrote a comic book series based on his own ordinary life – “Ordinary life is pretty challenging stuff” – is far better as film than the comic was as comic; it is a contender for the best-made American film (technically) of the new century. As biography, it is kind to its considerably less than extraordinary subject without being at all condescending. Directed by Shari Springer Berman/2003 USA/Black Comedy-Biography-Drama-Animation-Fantasy/R.

The Other Boleyn Girl, 12.40 midday Sundance Channel. Best film of the day. Watch this if you liked Elizabeth – The Golden Age, Finding Neverland or Goya’s Ghosts. This historically accurate account of the sister of Anne Boelyn, second wife of Henry VII, who precipitated the establishment of the Church of England, is very well done and features strong performances from Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and – astonishingly – Eric Bana. It’s not quite Anonymous, perhaps, but it’s still very good and hugely enjoyable. Directed by Justin Chadwick/ 2008/ UK-USA/ Historical Drama-Biography/ 115 mins/ PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content and some violent images.

JUST NOSED OUT:

**Boyhood (Drama) BEST FILM OF THE DAY, 10.45am HBOC; **The Hangover (Stoner comedy), 7.15pm MaxU; About Last Night (Rom-Com), 11.37am HBOP; The Illusionist (Mystery-Thriller), 9am Max; Inside Out (Animated-Family), 10.55am HBO2; **Flatliners (Horror), 5.15pm FoxMov; Whiplash (Drama-Music), 6.15pm MaxP; Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Action-Thriller), 1.50pm & 4.50pm F+1; Major Dundee (Western), 9.35am FoxClas; Invictus (Bio-Drama-History-Sports), 2.40pm HBOS; Creed (Sports drama), 1.45pm & 9pm HBOC; Hail Caesar (Comedy), 6.10pm Max.

ALSO RAN:

Action/Adventure:

Art House/Independent: Cyrus, (Drama), 12.25 midday FoxCom; Running with Scissors, 11.25am ISat

Biography: Trumbo, 7.35am Max; Erin Brockovich, 6pm HBOC; Temple Grandin, 7.07pm HBOS

Children/Family:

Classic: Leon: The Professional (Action-Thriller) (with underage sexuality overtones) 7.10pm FoxMov

Comedy: Meet the Parents, 6.45pm Stun

Documentary: Super Duper Alice Cooper (Music-Bio), 4.15pm Sund

Drama: Great Expectations, 7.35am FoxMov; Madame Bovary, 7pm FoxCin

Foreign: Night Train to Lisbon (European English-language Drama-Mystery-Thriller), 5.05pm FoxCin

Horror: Orphan, 4.10pm MaxP

Sci-fi-Fantasy: Divergent, 8.25pm CnCl

Thriller: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Action-Sci-fi-Thriller), 9am & 6.40pm HBOP

War: Bridge of Spies (Cold War), 4.05PM & 7.05pm F+1

Western: The Missing, 12.20 midday, MaxP

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

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