Apocalypse Now, The School of Rock, Hancock, Lucky Them, Tropic Thunder: films on TV today

War games, rock music and a sullen superhero spell the decline of western civilisation, or: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
Apocalypse Now ★★★★★
9.00pm-12.05am ITV4

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This is the one where Francis Ford Coppola took Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and set it in the Vietnam War. The result despite numerous production problems — the star Martin Sheen suffering a near fatal heart attack and Marlon Brando turning up stones overweight — is a flawed and messy masterpiece. Sheen is the American army captain on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Brando, who has become a renegade and is believed to be mad. As Sheen makes his way towards his quarry’s jungle lair you feel each is probably as mad as the other. Indeed what the film shows superbly is the way the insanity of war affects everyone. Classic examples are the helicopter gunships whirling about to the strains of Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries and Colonel Robert Duvall shouting: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” The actual chaos of the film-making is reflected in the utterly believable chaos of the action on screen. A great movie.


The School of Rock ★★★★
4.30-6.40pm C4

Mr Chips goes electric, as fake supply teacher Jack Black brings the joys of rock music to the pampered pupils of a private school.


Hancock ★★★
7.10-9.00pm C5

Will Smith saves the planet again, only this time he does it a bit grudgingly in an offbeat story of a world-weary superhero.


Lucky Them ★★★
PREMIERE 11.35pm-1.05am BBC2

Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church hit the road in search of a Seattle rocker who mysteriously vanished years ago. One for the hipsters.


Tropic Thunder ★★★★
9.00-10.40pm BBC3

Robert Downey Jr steals the show in Ben Stiller’s uproarious war-movie spoof, playing a film star who takes method acting way too far.


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