TV Films of the Week

Citizenfour - Edward Snowden

FILM OF THE WEEK: Citizenfour
Channel 4, Wednesday February 25, 11.05pm

If, as bookmakers think is a dead cert, Citizenfour picks up the Oscar for best documentary on Sunday, then at least a sliver of justice will have pierced the iron shield of the largely corrupt world in which we exist. More than just the account of how whistleblower Edward Snowden lifted the lid on unprecedented and unchecked state surveillance of its own citizens, the film is in of itself a shocking revelation and an act of great bravery.

As director Laura Poitras states in her introductory text, this is the third part in a trilogy exploring how the impact of 9/11 changed America’s relationship with legality, both internationally and domestically. The previous two films had seen her placed on a secret watchlist, detained and interrogated – all of which, ironically, made her the ideal candidate for the then unknown Snowden to contact when he discovered that the Obama regime was actually advancing the extra-judicial interception of communications started under George Bush Jnr.

Why should we in the UK care about this? Well, as Snowden’s evidence proved, our government, through GCHQ, has established an even more invasive surveillance program to spy on us – phone calls, text messages, internet searches, the lot – too. It’s a shame Channel 4, one of the film’s co-producers, isn’t screening it earlier, so that more people can see just how tenuous the concepts of liberty and privacy have become under leaders who would paint themselves as the saviours of freedom.


2001: A Space Oydessy
BBC Two, Friday February 20, 11:05pm

Last November the BFI re-released Stanley Kubrick’s transcendent science fiction epic, giving a whole new generation of moviegoers the chance to see what is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made on the big screen. Although its operatic majesty is somewhat reduced when shrunk down on a television, any opportunity to experience 2001 should always be taken. And an experience it is: from the opening bars of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra to the beguiling closing sequence, no filmmaker has ever achieved anything quite like it.

Moonrise Kingdom
Channel 4, Sunday February 21, 11:05pm

Once derided as too whimsical by those lacking in the capacity for abstract thought, director Wes Anderson is now a Hollywood mainstay – his latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel topped the UK box office last year and is up for nine Oscars this weekend. Rightly so – it’s another poignant flight of fancy. As is the equally wonderful Moonrise Kingdom, TGBH’s predecessor. Although packed with stellar talent like Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Bruce Willis, it is Moonrise Kingdom’s two unheralded child leads that infuse it with a sense of innocence and humanity that cannot fail to satisfy.

Film4, Thursday February 26, 9pm

In our younger, more vital years, the dysfunction of old age is the last thing that all but the most prudent of us want to think about. Which might make Amour difficult viewing, but it is a film we must all watch anyway. The restrained performances of Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, as a couple whose retirement is complicated when one of them suffers a stroke, provide Michael Haneke’s film its tender heart. Profoundly moving as well brutally honest, it is ultimately the sort of love story that puts most other cinematic depictions of courtship to the most severest of shame.

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