Festive films are in high demand this week. With the specter of Jesus’ birthday looming and debt piling up, a much-needed break from the humdrum world of December is in order. So fear not, it’s time to look ahead and see what cinematic treats are being held in store on your own small-screen home-viewing system.
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
Saturday, 11:45PM on BBC2
Nolan’s now overlooked drama about two rival magicians in Victoria-era London is a slow-burning suspense thriller with a possibly supernatural twist.
Christian Bale is the working-class magician waiting for death in prison for the murder of friend-turned-rival Hugh Jackman. Michael Caine is the engineer that helps them both, and Scarlett Johansson the object of their affections. A great supporting role from David Bowie as Nicola Tesla rounds off a slick, intelligent production that engrosses you with flashbacks within flashbacks.
Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995)
Saturday, 3:00PM on BBC1
The original Pixar classic has aged brilliantly. This animated classic tells the tale of Woody the cowboy (Tom Hanks) and his toy friends that guard the life and joy of their owner Andy. Their lives are turned upside down when Andy gets a new space ranger toy – Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).
It’s a great adventure film that riffs on the buddy cop genre. The supporting voices of Don Rickles, John Razzenberger and Wallace Shawn are all brilliant and the tale is the perfect viewing for people of all ages.
Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter, 1999)
Sunday, 2:45 pm on BBC1
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are back as Woody and Buzz, but after an accident and a toy-napping via a collector (Wayne Knight) Buzz and the other toys must quest out to rescue Woody from a possible trip to Japan!
Joan Cusack and Kelsey Grammar join the cast as rootin’-tootin’ cowgirl Jesse and fatherly prospector Stinky Pete and Jessie, along with the horse toy Bullseye – all members from Woody’s short-lived TV show. The film is big on gags, but bigger on heart.
Aladdin (Ron Clements & John Musker, 1992)
Sunday, 5:20 pm on C4
In loving memory of Robin Williams, it’s time to revisit the mighty animated film that started the trend of big names in animated films.
He’s The Genie, awakened from slumber to help Aladdin, a peasant boy with three wishes as Aladdin attempts to win the affections of Princess Jasmine. Along for the ride are Abu – a monkey, and a magic carpet. Alan Menken’s songs and Williams’ mile-a-minute comedy are the stars of the show, and it’s a tribute to the late actor that his comic style has become a legacy unto itself.
Point Break (Kathryn Bigelow 1991)
Monday, 11:20 pm on Spike
Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze star in this high-stakes actioner. It’s a thrill a minute, with The Hurt Locker‘s Bigelow directing and Gary Busey as a shout-y captain, and a travesty that it’s being remade so soon. The original is only going to grow in status, so before the new one comes out, tune into the original and enjoy the iconic scene of Reeves shooting his gun in the air and going “Ahh”.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
Wednesday, 11:00 pm on BBC4
Kubrick’s majestic tale of space travel, that takes us from the birth of man to the dawn of a new species.
The stand-out character is of course the Hal 9000, one of cinema’s scariest villains, and the music is beyond compare. The greatest achievement is Douglas Trumble’s ground breaking visual effects. It’s a bit of a slog in it’s navel-gazing 142-minute run time but it’s still such a purely visual experience that sometimes the pure magic of the cinema takes over the storytelling becomes unimportant to the image. But as far as stories go, it’s incredible and engrossing.
A masterpiece from the master of pieces.