Richard Lutz highlights a triple dilemma this week as he casts his eye on the tv listings for films
Get out the felt tip, the magic marker, the big red pen. Get out the diary and the calendar.
Draw great big circles around Friday 14th June at 9pm. You got big decisions to make. You have to make a life changing choice (not really); you are the master of your fateful future.
The 9pm decision maker is between three films, all of varying quality. But all winners in their own way. Here goes:
First, there is Elizabeth (More4), a great visual feast of a bio-pic about Good Queen Bess back in the day of ruffled collars, Sir Walter Raleigh and those pesky Spanish navy boys and their darn Armada.
This 1998 movie, directed by classy Shekhar Kapur, summons up the late Tudor age; its treachery, its sumptuousness, its shadowy mood.
Cate Blanchett won the bunfight against Nicole Kidman and La Streep to take the eponymous role of Elizabeth. There you go: an Ozzie, a New Yorker and a Kiwi vying for that quintessential English role. Geoffrey Rush is her creepy and powerful right hand man, Sir Francis Walsingham; smoldering male hotty Joseph Fiennes is her lover, Robert Dudley (Fiennes by the way stayed with the ruffled collar and late 16thc, to play The Bard in Shakespeare in Love in the same year) and, get this, Footie hero Ooo-ahh Cantona has a small suitably Gallic role as a generic oily Frenchman
John Gielgud gets a small look-in as The Pope, Wayne Sleep is there as, natch, a dancing master and soon to be 007 Daniel Craig peers from behind the arras as…well, the man peering behind the arras.
Trivia Watch: in that year of production, 1998, Blanchett was nominated for best actress in the Oscars and, whatta coincidence, Judy Dench actually won the gong as best supporting actress in the same Queen Elizabeth I role in the aforementioned Shakespeare in Love. Wuddyaknow…fancy that.
Decision-time though: over on 5USA, Clint is in the 1992 oater Unforgiven. He plays jaded gunslinger Will Munny who takes on one last job (have we heard this plot before) to clean things up a bit.
It is a moody elegiac film directed by Eastwood with strong support from a nasty Gene Hackman, a noble Morgan Freeman and the late Richard Harris as your off the shelf English dandy whom Hackman brutally beats to a pulp.
It won the Oscar for best picture. Clint dedicated the western to Sergio Leone (who gave him his big lift in the ’60s) and Don Segal who directed him in some of his urban hardman roles.
It is a violent gun crazy movie, so violent in fact that some say it re-ignited a gun control movement in the States. Hackman is horribly nasty as the Sheriff- it is one of his strongest acting roles. Clint is….Clint.
Moving on and the third 9pm film from which to choose is whacky and fun unless you are an ophidiophobic.
That’s right, you hate snakes. because the title is: Snakes on a Plane (Film4).
It’s a nutty, super-schlocky and fun..fun that is if your deep seated ophidiopohobia gets you way down in the pit of your anxieties.
Samuel L. Jackson is the tough guy FBI agent who has the task of cleaning up a planeful of escaped poisonous snakes let loose to kill a Mob witness he is escorting to a trial. As one wag put it (as he wasn’t far off), the title is what you get: loads of snakes on a plane.
You also get people screaming, people gasping, people running wildly around the aisle shouting: It’s snakes. it’s snakes’ and Jackson getting all angry and vexed and shouting one of Hollywood’s great schlock movie quotes: ‘Enough is enough. I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane.’
Besides Jackson, the other stars are the 450 snakes they used in the shoot and an assortment of other fake and digi-snakes that scare the living bejesus out of passengers, scaredy cat audience members…and me.