TV Films of the Week
FILM OF THE WEEK: A Field In England
Film4, Friday July 5, 10:45pm
This week’s column might be more notable than usual for the fact that three of the four films it recommends are directed by the same person. But, without wishing to sound all high fallutin’, what makes it genuinely historic is the fact that its main pick is being broadcast on the same night the film is released in cinemas, as well as on the same day it is available to buy on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand.
Yes, this Friday Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England will set a precedent for the British film industry, and quite possibly for the world, when viewers will have the choice of watching it for the first time either in a darkened hall full of strangers or from the relative comfort of their sofas at home. Wheatley has already established a reputation as a radical director, and now Film4 has matched that reputation with an equally radical release model.
In all that excitement, it is possible to forget about the actual film itself. Which would be a shame, because like all Wheatley’s films before it, A Field In England is definitely not one to forget. Charting the misfortunes of a group of English Civil War deserters, captured and forced to dig for treasure whilst under the influence of magic mushrooms, it presents a heady mix of period drama, occult mysticism and psychedelic horror. Just remember that if you are watching at home and you want fresh popcorn, you will have to get up and make it yourself.
SET THE RECORDER FOR:
Film 4, Wednesday July 3, 10:50pm
Having progressed from making short films to directing adverts and then television shows, Wheatley announced himself as a unique talent to follow with Down Terrace, his first feature film. Shot on a micro-budget in Wheatley’s home town of Brighton, it combined the two staples of British cinema – kitchen sink drama and gangster thriller – to come up with something far more original. It also introduced his trademark ability to have audiences laughing from their bellies one moment and recoiling in shock the next.
Film4, Thursday July 4, 11:05pm
If Down Terrace was the work that projected Wheatley’s potential for all to see, Kill List is the laser beam that burnt his nightmarish visions deep onto our retinas. Again starting out in the urban hinterland of Anywheresville, UK, it soon makes the mundane turn absolutely terrifying as two hit men are drawn into a bizarre and deadly contract. Challenging, uncomfortable and at times downright disturbing, you’ll never have seen anything quite like it.
In The Loop
BBC2, Saturday July 6, 10:45pm
There are any number of reasons why In The Loop is essential viewing at any time. It could be the razor sharp satire of writer/director Armando Iannucci and the team behind the BBC’s brilliant The Thick Of It. Or because of the big screen appearance of that show’s Malcolm Tucker, the morally-dubious spin doctor whose verbal assaults leave even the most battle-hardened men and women weeping for their mothers. But this week it should be to celebrate the life of James Gandolfini, as great as ever here, who the world lost too soon last month.