Saturday, 16 December 2017

Christmas on the Box 2017

If I had not made a habit of checking out the annual Christmas schedules each year to recommend the best new film offerings, I probably should have given up by now...since each new set of listings reveals fewer and fewer delights.

From a purely selfish point of view and we all know that I have viewed nearly all of the likely suspects by now, there is but a single new movie on terrestrial TV that I actually have not seen and actually want to see: Shaun the Sheep (BBC1 on Boxing Day). That apart there are no other new-to-TV movies to tempt me. Thank goodness then for Sky with their 'a new premiere a day' credo. They have pulled out all the stops from the 23rd to the 26th and again from the 30th through New Year's Day...before reverting to the usual diet of pap. I've not yet seen any of the following and have reasonably high hopes: Hidden Figures, The Lego Batman Movie, Beauty and the Beast, and Guardians of the Galaxy Part2 in the first tranche and Boss Baby, The Zookeeper's Wife, and Kong-Skull Island in the second.

As for the 'big' premieres on terrestrial television they're a mixed bunch: yet another remake of The Great Gatsby on the 24th and Cinderella on the 25th. Boxing Day features Jurassic World which is a watchable but overblown late entry to the series. On the 27th is the animated Big Hero Six (which I have completely forgotten); the 28th gives us Denzel Washington over-emoting as a drunken pilot in "Flight"; on the 29th you might choose to watch "Gone Girl", a rather annoying movie not a patch on the novel; and on the 30th Avengers: Age of Ultron which has fused with all the other super-hero flicks in my memory. Not a bad choice for New Year's Eve with Into the Woods (surprisingly well translated to the screen) and The Lego Movie which is an entertaining bit of product-placing. Finally New Year's Day offers Maleficent (not terribly brilliant) and the most recent Bond - Spectre, the best bit of which is the opening Day of the Dead sequence in Mexico City.

A couple of other premieres which might go unnoticed are A Royal Night Out (Channel 5 on the 26th) -- an interesting bit of fictionalisation and The Hundred-Foot Journey on 1 January (also Channel 5) an unusual showcase for Helen Mirren. Surprisingly the first two Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies from 2009 and 2011 are receiving their television premieres on ITV2 of all places. Finally there's Ron Howard's love-letter to the Beatles on 5 January, which I've not seen but don't know that I want to see -- I probably will succumb. Otherwise it's pretty much a case of the usual culprits: a surfeit of animations (some good, some poor), a run of Harry Potter and Hunger Games movies, and very few films made in the 'olden days' before Star Wars  Interestingly the only foreign-language movie apart from Sky's earmarked Wednesday slot is Chevalier on Film 4 on the 27th, a Greek film that I know nothing about.

For compensation I shall gorge on the 8-part mini-series (showing in double dollops starting tonight) "Feud: Bette and Joan" concerning the trumped-up rivalry between Davis and Crawford starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange with other Hollywood personages also portrayed. (I understand that Olivia DeHavilland -- still alive at 101 -- is suing). Other film-related goodies (ignoring those previously screened) are Darcy Burrell on Fred Astaire on the 21st and the Sky Arts Channel celebrating the Spielberg/Williams collaboration on the 27th and a new feature documentary (there are actually a number extant) on Clint Eastwood on the 28th.

Since I  am unlikely to write again until just before the New Year (and maybe not then) let me wish you all happy holidays and hopefully happy viewing.
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