Every week Mat Corne scours the TV Guide for the best movies showing on UK free-to-air TV. So for those of you that refuse to pay for Sky Movies or Netflix, here are five of the best freeview movies for the coming week.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Spike, Saturday 24th, 22:00 & Friday 30th, 23:00
More than twenty years on, this is still Quentin Tarantino’s finest work – a tale of gangsters, hitmen, boxers and small-time criminals in 90s Los Angeles. Building on the foundations laid down by Reservoir Dogs, the film is characterised by witty dialogue, pop culture references and occasionally shocking violence. The cast is amazing, mixing big names with rising stars and catapulting has-beens and never-wasses into the spotlight, while the director’s ingenious non-linear storytelling and interweaving of subplots inspired countless imitations in the following years and still influences filmmaking two decades later. Undoubtedly one of the greatest films ever made, Pulp Fiction was critically lauded and most importantly was voted the most popular film ever amongst my colleagues at work!
Spike, Tuesday 27th, 23:00
Despite inexplicably starring a Frenchman as a Scotsman and a Scot as a Spaniard, this is one of the more original offerings of 80’s action fare. Christopher Lambert plays the immortal Connor Macleod, who has lived several hundred years until modern times, where he must meet other immortals in combat until only one remains. Flashbacks to 16th Century Scotland show how he became immortal and was trained by Ramirez, played by Sean Connery. The action moves back and forth through various time periods with a number of memorable scenes, culminating in the final showdown on the rooftops of New York City. Enhanced by Queen’s excellent soundtrack, it is a bit patchy in places, but the story and acting are decent and it deserves its billing as a cult action classic.
Film4, Sunday 25th, 23:05
In a film best described as Romantic Sci-Fi, Joaquin Phoenix stars as a socially awkward writer that installs the latest artificial intelligence operating system on his computer. His version, named Samantha and voiced by Scarlett Johansson, develops quickly and proves such good company that a romantic relationship develops between them. The film is funny, disturbing and ultimately sad, but with the continued evolution of technology, this fantasy could easily become reality and who wouldn’t be attracted to an AI with that voice? It does suffer a little due to over-length, but is a unique, well-acted film that is as entertaining as it is unnerving.
The Purge (2013)
Channel 4, Saturday 24th, 23:15
Set in a theoretical near-future, the USA is run efficiently by a government that on one day every year allows The Purge, a 12-hour period when all crime is legal, even murder. Within this intriguing premise many stories could be told, but this film focuses on a well-to-do family whose home is chosen by a group of marauding criminals, intent on misbehaving. As the night progresses, their attempts to breach the well-protected house and terrorise its occupants become more elaborate and the residents must take action to ensure their own survival. Packed with tension, shocks and no small amount of violence, this film didn’t impress the critics but was a huge box office success and while the subject matter is disturbing, the story and characters make it an engaging experience.
Fast & Furious 5 (2011)
E4, Saturday 24th & Friday 30th, 21:00
One of several films from the bombastic street racing franchise showing this week, the fifth instalment takes the crew led by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker to Rio De Janeiro, as they look to complete a heist that will take $100 million from a corrupt local businessman. Memorable for introducing Dwayne Johnson to the already bloated cast, but not to the film’s detriment, and expanding the action sequences beyond the now-predictable car chases, this is probably the best film in the series since its debut. It culminates in the frankly ludicrous chase that features two high performance sports cars pulling a huge bank vault through the city streets, which perfectly sums up this unbelievable but enjoyable series.