FILM OF THE WEEK: Somers Town
BBC2, Sunday May 12, 11:30pm
Ever wondered why you leave the cinema with numb buttocks so often these days? Perhaps it’s because movie studios, desperate to offer punters maximum bang for their bucks in the age of austerity, keep making films such long, drawn out affairs. For example, anyone who took in Iron Man 3 recently remained seated for 130 minutes, while those rushing to see the latest installment of Star Trek this week have 132 minutes to endure. Add in adverts and trailers and that’s a hell of a long time to be stuck on your arse.
Fortunately, it is perfectly possible to entertain audiences without giving them a dose of derriere-deadening pins and needles at the same time, as director Shane Meadows proves admirably with Somers Town. In little over an hour and ten minutes, he takes us from territory approaching the harsh social realism of the work for which he is best known, This Is England, to an uplifting tale of love and friendship in multinational London.
With fine performances from regular Meadows collaborator Thomas Turgoose alongside fellow young performers Piotr Jagiello and Elisa Lasowski, its depiction of unlikely companionship in the face of cultural divides will leave all but rabid BNP and UKIP voters feeling all warm and glowy inside. The film was funded entirely by Eurostar, which may very well have been a masterstroke of marketing – if a trip through the Channel Tunnel can make you even half as happy as watching Somers Town, we should all be booking our tickets this instant.
Set the recorder for:
Film4, Tuesday May 7, 11:50pm
With Side Effects apparently signalling time on Steven Soderbergh’s career behind a movie camera, from now on we will have to look back over his body of work to be reminded of what a prodigious talent the man really is. In between big hits like the Ocean’s Eleven franchise and Erin Bockovich, Soderbergh made more personal projects, of which The Limey is a great example. Featuring Terence Stamp as aging East End gangster investigating the death of his daughter in the seedier side of Los Angeles, its reflective nature brings something fresh to the revenge drama.
Film4, Friday May 10, 9pm
In 2009 a young director by the name of Duncan Jones emerged with a rather excellent film called Moon that invoked the serious science fiction films of the Seventies. Turns out he’s only the son of original starman David Bowie. Source Code, his follow-up and first major studio picture, mixes Groundhog Day, Murder On The Orient Express and Quantum Leap to make an exceedingly entertaining thriller. It is two scenes too long to be perfect, but before then you’ll have a lot of fun watching Jake Gyllenhaal repeatedly re-living the same eight minutes whilst trying to foil a train-based terrorist plot.
Channel 4, Saturday May 11, 7.45pm
When James Cameron spent over $200m to make a film about on a film about 10-foot tall blue aliens, there must have been many who thought he couldn’t repeat the success of Titanic and make lightning strike twice. They were wrong, of course, as sci-fi epic Avatar went on to make over $200bn and become the highest grossing film of all time. While its mythology is all a bit L.Ron Hubbard, Avatar’s phenomenal commercial success was no mean feat, given the underlying anti-imperialist, anti-military-industrial complex message that it carries.