Films of the week: Need an Eighties blockbuster… who ya gonna call?


Click to follow
The Independent Culture



6.55pm Channel 5

(Ivan Reitman, 1984) It's a general rule of Hollywood that the greater a comedy's recourse to expensive special effects, the less funny it will be. And the 1984 mega-hit Ghostbusters is the exception that proves it. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis star as disgraced academics who set up in business as ghost hunters, and retain admirably straight faces amid all the daffy paranormal activity. *****


An Education

10.40pm BBC2

(Lone Scherfig, 2009) Adapted by Nick Hornby from a memoir by the journalist Lynn Barber, An Education is about the frustrations of being a 16-year-old girl (Carey Mulligan) in pre-feminist, early-Sixties Britain, and how one might easily be seduced by an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) with a glamorous lifestyle. The period detailing compensate for the script's slight tendency towards didacticism. ****


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

6.55pm TCM

(Ronald Neame, 1969) Miss Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) is an unconventional teacher at a straight-laced Thirties Edinburgh school for girls. She's the model for similar inspirational characters in movies such as Dead Poets Society and Dangerous Minds, but Muriel Sparks's novel and this adaptation are less impressed by her recklessness, and thus far more interesting than those films. ****



12.05am BBC1

(Joanna Hogg, 2010) Full of overly polite conversation, awkward pauses and simmering resentments, Joanna Hogg's second film is the sort of toe-curling comedy of embarrassment you might get if Mike Leigh was better at portraying the English upper-middle classes. Like her first, Unrelated, it's set over the course of a family holiday – but this time it's in the Scilly Isles rather than Tuscany. Tom Hiddleston stars. ***


The Man with Two Brains

6.25pm Sky Movies Greats

(Carl Reiner, 1983) You could argue that Steve Martin's third film is an exploration of Cartesian mind-body dualism, but really it's just a madcap and gag-stuffed tribute to old "mad scientist" movies. He plays Dr Hfuhruhurr, a brain surgeon married to a femme fatale (Kathleen Turner) but in love with another woman – or at least, her disembodied brain, floating in a jar. ****



1.10am Film4

(Benjamin Christensen, 1922) This formally, technically and narratively inventive Danish silent horror is a real Halloween treat. It begins as an apparently academic treatise on witchcraft – "from a cultural and historical point of view, in seven chapters of moving pictures", and with a humanist, rationalist slant. But then it stealthily darkens into something far creepier and more disturbing. *****


The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

12.10am BBC2

(Julian Schnabel, 2007) This beautifully shot and inspiring film marvels at the heroic efforts by which the 43-year-old editor of French Elle (played by Mathieu Amalric), after having suffered a stroke, was able to re-impose himself on the world, learning to communicate with his one remaining functioning body-part and dictate the memoir that it is based on, one blink at a time. ****