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, Amazon Prime or Netflix, here are some of the best freeview movies for the coming week.
E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
5Star, Saturday 15th, 13:25
Grab the tissue box and settle in for Spielberg’s wonderful story of a peaceful interstellar botanist that is accidentally left behind by his spaceship, and welcomed into American suburbia by a boy in need of a friend. Inspired by the director’s experiences following the divorce of his parents, the entire film is strongly focussed on childhood, from the convincing performances of young Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore, to the many shots filmed from a child’s perspective, and culminating in the scenes that put a BMX on every boy’s Christmas list. Funny, thrilling, and frequently heart-wrenching, helped in no small part by John Williams’ Oscar-winning score, E.T. is a one-of-a-kind fairy tale that will remind you how great it was to be a child.
5Spike, Saturday 15th and Wednesday 19th, 21:00
Sylvester Stallone’s most famous role sees him play Rocky Balboa, a small-time Philadelphia boxer whose life is going nowhere until he gets a once in a lifetime shot at the World Heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Later films would focus on the in-ring action and make the character a typical American hero, but the first film is more of a drama as we see Rocky building a relationship with shy pet store clerk Adrian and his will to make something better of himself. With the classic training montage scenes and accompanied by Bill Conti’s iconic score, Rocky is a fantastic, sometimes sad but ultimately uplifting story that won three Oscars from ten nominations.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
ITV4, Saturday 15th and Wednesday 19th, 21:00
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi teamed up with director John Landis for the big screen debut of their Saturday Night Live characters, Jake and Elwood Blues. The brothers reunite their band to play one big gig, trying to raise the money to save the orphanage where they grew up, but attract all the wrong kind of attention as they follow their ‘mission from God.’ The two leads are great, but they are ably assisted by a fabulous supporting cast including a memorable appearance by Carrie Fisher and a veritable who’s who of legendary Soul and Blues musicians. While the plot is pretty thin, the film succeeds anyway with a mix of anarchic comedy, wonderful musical performances and some of the most ludicrous and destructive car chases ever committed to film.
Escape from New York (1981)
5Spike, Sunday 16th, 23:25
John Carpenter’s second of five collaborations with Kurt Russell resulted in the creation of one of action cinema’s coolest characters, Snake Plissken. The eye-patch wearing anti-hero is about to be imprisoned in the City of New York, which has been sealed off in a dystopian future and used to house the worst of the world’s criminals. Fate intervenes however when the President’s plane crashes in the city and Snake is sent in to rescue him. Gritty and violent action sequences follow, along with interactions with the city’s diverse and dangerous residents, not least Isaac Hayes as the extravagant Duke of New York. With Carpenter’s trademark visual style and electronic score, thrilling set-pieces and solid acting from much of the cast, this is one of the finest examples of the genre.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Sony Movies, Friday 21st, 21:00
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, Quentin Tarantino’s tale of gangsters, hitmen, boxers and small-time criminals in 90s Los Angeles is still his finest work. 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 to this day. Pulp Fiction was critically lauded and if you haven’t watched it recently then it’s time to re-acquaint yourself with the coolest of movie masterpieces.