Film of the week: Shaun Of The Dead, ITV2, Sunday April 21, 9pm
On April 13, 2001, a whole generation of post-modern TV fans wept at the passing of Spaced, the sublime sitcom written by and starring Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson. Where else would they find a show that sampled the very best of western pop culture, presented so innovatively by director Edgar Wright and accompanied by belly-aching humour of waiter-turned comic actor Nick Frost? The answer, of course, came three years later when the gang, minus Stevenson, jumped across onto the big screen in Shaun Of The Dead.
In doing so, there must have been a temptation to forget what made Spaced so unique and instead produce something more palatable for Hollywood’s global audience. The real genius of Shaun Of The Dead is that it resisted that temptation so categorically. Instead, Pegg and Wright took the tropes of George Romero’s classic zombie films and made them about as British as it’s possible to be.
Romero’s small town American settings became suburban England, his refuges of malls and military bases traded places for the local pub and his survivors’ weapons of pistols and machine guns were substituted for cricket bats and golf clubs. But the formula didn’t just make it a hit in the UK – Quentin Tarantino named Shaun Of The Dead as one of the top 20 films made since he began his directorial career. If you have already seen it, try playing ‘spot the celebrity zombie’ with comedian Rob Brydon and Coldplay’s Chris Martin there for the eagle-eyed to find amongst the undead hordes.
Set the recorder for:
Blue Valentine, Film4, Tuesday April 16, 11:20pm
With the Bradley Cooper/Ryan Gosling-fronted The Place Beyond The Pines currently enjoying success at the box office, Film4 give us the chance to revisit director Derek Cianfrance’s first release. Switching back and forth between moments past and present, it stars Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple whose relationship is reaching its end. Frank and unflinchingly powerful, it’s probably best avoided if you are experiencing similar spousal problems.
24 Hour Party People, Film4, Thursday April 18, 11:30pm
There is now less than a fortnight until The Look Of Love, which teams Steve Coogan together with director Michael Winterbottom once again, hits cinemas, so what better time to remind ourselves how much fun their partnership can be. Like The Look Of Love, 24 Hour People is a biopic, portraying the life of Factory Records’ co-founder Tony Wilson. A celebration of the great music this apparently chaotic label produced (from the likes of Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays), it offers laughs and pathos in equal measure.
Last Of The Mohicans, 5USA, Saturday April 20, 10:45pm
Having so utterly convinced us all as the definitive Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis is no less intense as an adopted Mohican warrior battling the French in Michael Mann’s historical epic. Given that he prepared for the role by spending six months skinning animals, building canoes and fighting with tomahawks, this comes as little surprise. If the last ten minutes don’t set your heart beating, then you are probably best advised booking an appointment with the nearest cardiologist, post haste.