Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Deer Hunter, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: films on TV today
The president is tooled up, the Vietnam War comes home, the groovy 1960s spy wakes up in the 90s: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today
ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter ★★★★
9.00-11.05pm Film Four
A pounding fantasy whose preposterousness is its reason for viewing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter could never be hauled up by the Trade Descriptions Act. The little-known and slightly under-powered Benjamin Walker plays Abe Lincoln, whose 19th-century background and political career play out in fairly faithful History Channel style – from his family’s Indiana plantation to the White House – with one important action-hero tweak: as a young man he’s attacked by one vampire (Marton Csokas) and trained by another (Dominic Cooper), hence the titular double life. During his presidency, his talents are called upon again, and writer Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows) ostentatiously threads the supernatural slash-’em-up into a plot involving slavery, Gettysburg and the Confederacy. A cut above the usual hokum, it nonetheless rests upon the visceral bombast of its fight scenes, a CGI call to arms involving slo-mo, multitudes, blade-work and gravity-defying combat. Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Wanted) rarely takes his foot off the pedal. Quite exhausting.
The Deer Hunter ★★★★★
Director Michael Cimino shot to prominence with this piercing examination of what war can do to ordinary men. It won five Oscars, including best picture and director, at the 1979 awards. The power of the Vietnam sections shouldn't distract you from the Pennsylvania scenes, which are full of the warmth and understated intimacy of everyday life, and superbly acted by a wonderful cast.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery ★★★★
10.55pm-12.50am Movie Mix
Oh, behave! Mike Myers followed the Wayne's World movies with this spot-on spy spoof that mocks all the genre staples without disappearing up its own 1960's back alley. Put into cryogenic sleep to match his criminal nemesis, Dr Evil, Myers's Swinging 60s super spy is defrosted in 1997, and part of the joy of the movie is that both hero and villain are at the mercy of the world they have woken up in. The genre references are scattered liberally, the cast has a ball sending up the fashions, and Myers leaps around at the centre of things like a puppy chasing its tail.
Fast Girls ★★★
7.15-9.00pm Film Four
Members of a female sprint relay team not only have to overcome their opponents but personal rivalries, too, in this familiar but entertaining drama. Being Human's Lenora Crichlow and Downton Abbey's Lily James are the girls on either side of the class divide.
Air America ★★★
A Vietnam War movie with a difference. Mel Gibson trades on his charm and an illegal supply of heroin as a US pilot who (literally) ropes Robert Downey Jr into his shady dealings. It's based on a non-fiction source book, but was wrongly publicised as a comedy, and is better than its poor box-office returns implied.
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