Sixteen films on TV before you can leave your county for Christmas

Ronan O'Meara

Reporter:

Ronan O'Meara

16 films on TV this week to help you ignore that darkening sky

Movie Guru Ronan O'Meara gives his picks of the week

Ronan O'Meara has been scouring the TV schedules (free-to-air channels only) to find films to watch over the next week as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.

Float Like A Butterfly: Saturday, RTÉ2 @ 9pm

A father and daughter set off on a road trip around Ireland. 15 year old Frances is a scrapper, in awe of Muhammad Ali and she wants to show what she's made of. Her father, fresh out of jail, doesn't quite agree with her choices. This depiction of Irish traveller life is as gritty as you'd expect but there's a lot of love under it's gruff exterior and Carmel Winter's direction finds humanity and inspiration in the story. Hazel Doupe as Frances is amazing

The Shape Of Water: Saturday, Channel 4 @ 9.30pm

A lonely cleaner called Elisa falls for an amphibious being that's been held captive in the facility she works in. Their shared alienation from the world brings them together. Guillermo Del Toro's fishy love story won the best picture Oscar in 2018 and it's easy to see why. It's a beautifully odd tale about the strange places romance can blossom. Sally Hawkins is a knockout lead and Michael Shannon does good work as the bad guy of the piece.

The Hill: Saturday, BBC2 @ 10.55pm

Libya. World War II. A disciplinary camp for insubordinate soldiers. The heat is brutal. The punishment is unrelenting. The guards are evil. The prisoners will not be broken. Then there's the hill. Sidney Lumet's 1965 war drama is a watch that will leave you wrecked when it's over, a look into the psychology used to break down the spirit of men and turn them into military cogs. It's not a fun watch but it's a fine one. Sean Connery, Ian Bannen and Harry Andrews all do a superb job.

The Driver: Sunday, Talking Pictures TV @ 10pm

The Driver is a king behind the wheel of car making him indispensable to criminals. One detective is obsessed with catching him and turns to the underworld to set up a trap to catch him. Walter Hill's action thriller is a joy, one that oozes style. There's not much going on under the bonnet but you'll enjoy this film's sleek lines. It's so cool it doesn't even bother with character names. Ryan O'Neal, Isabelle Adjani and Bruce Dern all rock here.

Little Miss Sunshine: Sunday, TG4 @ 11.25pm

A delight of a film about a troubled family driving across America so their daughter can take part in one of those godawfully creepy American child beauty pageants. All manner of familial issues work against getting her there on time. There's a lovely cast in this with the adorable Abigail Breslin in the lead and Toni Collette on fire as her mother. Both Alan Arkin  & Steve Carell (playing very much against type) steal the film though. Just ignore Paul Dano.

Mother!: Monday, Channel 4 @ 12.05am

A woman and her partner live a quiet peaceful life in their country mansion. One night there's a knock at the door and a man turns up. Then another appears and a violent act turns heaven into hell. Darren Aronofsky's dark 2017 drama is one that will set up camp in your head and stay put far longer than you'll like. It's horrifying, terrifying, stressful and not one bit enjoyable. But you'll still be happy you watched it. Jennifer Lawrence is a magnetic lead and keep an eye out for two familiar Irish faces.

Scott Of The Antarctic: Monday, BBC2 @ 2.30pm

In 1912 Robert Falcon Scott led the Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica in the hopes of being the first people to reach the South Pole. Things.......did not go well. This Ealing production is a great watch. Filmed in beautiful early technicolor and with a haunting score, this a powerful and eerie imagining of a expedition where no one is really sure what exactly happened. John Mills as Scott is, as always, a fantastic lead.  

Panic Room: Monday, Sony Movies @ 9pm

A woman and her daughter find themselves trapped in their panic room during a home invasion. And what the invaders want is in the room with them. Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart are excellent in David Fincher's little cracker of a thriller. It's a simple but fiercely effective film, scary, fast moving and with a little touch of humour here and there. Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam are fun as the villains of the piece.

Clash: Tuesday, Film4 @ 1.40am

Cairo is in chaos after Egyptian president Morsi has been removed from office and a disparate group of men from differing backgrounds find themselves arrested and locked in the back of a police van. A 100 minute long film set entirely in a paddy wagon might sound boring but's an electrifying and searing look at the political state of Egypt seen through a microcosm of it's society. The actors mightn't be recognisable but all do mighty work.

Office Christmas Party: Tuesday, RTÉ2 @ 9.30pm

Carol and Clay are brother and sister. They also work together. She's also his boss and she's about to close his office branch. So he does the only thing he can ie throw a massive Christmas party to impress a potential client. The most literally titled film of the decade is a solid slice of raunchy drug fuelled madness that will make even the most miserable viewer laugh. Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon and a game Courtney B. Vance all add to the giggles.

Finding Your Feet: Thursday, Film4 @ 9pm

A woman's retirement plans are blown to hell when she discovers her marriage is a long term sham and she legs it to London to stay with her sister. To say they are chalk and cheese is an understatement. This gentle comedy drama works because of it's realistic central pairing and watching Imelda Staunton and Celia Imrie tearing strips off each other is good craic, but there's plenty of heart behind the barbs too. Timothy Spall and Joanna Lumley in support add a lot.

Tamara Drewe: Thursday, BBC4 @ 11.25pm

When her mother dies, a London based journalist returns home to the bucolic village of her youth to settle affairs and her appearance stirs up old loves, old memories and old troubles. Gemma Arterton's a charming lead in a slight but profanely entertaining look at the mores of life in the British countryside. Director Stephen Frear's 21st century take on Far From The Madding Crowd hits the spot. Tamsin Greig and Bill Camp are the gravy on top.

An Education: Friday, BBC2 @ 12.30am

Jenny is the model teenager, acing her exams at school, polite and well mannered. Then she meets and falls for a man twice her age.... This 60's set drama is an effective coming of age film about the hard truths and rude awakenings teenagers have to deal with on the road to adulthood. Carey Mulligan is perfect as the lead and gets stellar back up from the likes of Peter Saarsgard, Alfred Molina and Olivia Williams.

A Cure For Wellness: Friday, Channel 4 @ 1.50am

A young executive working for a bank is sent to a spa in Switzerland to find the company CEO. On the way he has an accident and wakes up in a very strange place. Gore Verbinski's 2016 horror film is a far cry from the family franchises he's best known for. There's imagery here that will wiggle into your brain and haunt you. It's deranged, often offensive and the most unique film on TV this week. Dane DeHaan and Mia Goth make for interesting leads.

Nevada Smith: Friday, TG4 @ 9.10pm

Nevada Smith, looked down on all his life for being a "halfbreed", half White, half Native American is devastated by a massive tragedy and changes his life in order to get revenge on the men responsible. This Steve McQueen led western is a solid friday evening watch. It hits all the beats you'll expect but also adds a surprising depth with it's ruminations on the effects of violence. McQueen is his usual stoic self. 

What We Did On Our Holiday: Saturday (December 19) BBC1 @ Midnight

It's Gordy's 75th birthday and all the family are invited to his home in the wilds of Scotland. Abi and Doug are bringing the kids but they've got a large secret they want to keep and they have to rely on their kids to keep schtum. Uh-oh. A nice look at the interplay and dynamics that exist in the family unit. You might relate hard to what you see onscreen. Rosamund Pike, David Tennant and Billy Connolly work well together.

For more TV and film talk see hamsandwichcinema.blogspot.com/