Screengrab: Set The Friday Controls For the Heart of the TV


from Richard Lutz


Friday night blues? Nothing to do but stuff your face with a chicken balti and drown in a gallon of mango lhassi. Or worse, watch England lose to Moldava 7-0?

Then plunk yourself down to Film 4 where you have 6 straight hours of big time films.  It’ll bring a quake to your snake.

The original Planet of the Apes (18.45) kicks the night off  with Charlton Heston in a loincloth trying to convince a bunch of monkeys that he’s intelligent. Well, he was head honcho of the US based National Rifle Association in real life so maybe the monkeys had a case to lock him up  when they captured  him  off that spaceship and put him in a cage.

By the way, was it my imagination or did Heston have to suck in his middle aged tummy for six weeks while shooting  the role as he strode around half naked?

As for the film, a couple of good twists and turns and a political line as well.  And as for the end itself where Heston gawps and sees…no, I won’t spoil it.

Next up is District 9 (on at 21.00). It  should have won the 2009 Oscar for best film but Hollywood didn’t have the guts to give it to a South Africa movie which used downtrodden aliens as a metaphor for a film  about race. It was just..well..just too sharp and vicious. Some great CGI moments and, yes, you do wonder who the good guys and bad guys really are. The script uses a montage of pretend news clips to shoot the story forward. One of the best from the first decade of this new  century of ours.

Then on to Pan’s Labyrinth (23.05) which- boy, I sound like a broken CD- should have been best film for 2005 but Hollywood didn’t have the guts, intelligence etc to give it to a Mexican production. Director Guillermo del Toro paints a tale in magic realism colours  of a little girl who hides in a fantasy world to escape the violence of Fascist Spain. It is an overwhelmingly powerful story and may not set you up all bright and cheery for the week end but will stay with you. The sheer physical brutal terror of a sadistic stepfather  grips you by the throat.

Let’s lighten up as we move into Saturday early morning then with Young Frankenstein (01.20). It is a great Mel Brooks affair with a wild eyed Gene Wilder as the scientist’s grandson;  a wilder eyed Marty Feldman and some of Brooks’ better ensemble comedians: Madelaine Kahn, Kenneth Mars and Cloris Leachman.  It is Wilder’s favourite film and will remind you to rent Blazing Saddles just one more time.