Strictly Ballroom, Dazed and Confused, American Graffiti – best films on TV tonight

From a feel-good Australian dance movie to two American summers, here are our top film picks tonight Tuesday 8 July

Strictly Ballroom – 10pm, BBC4


Feel-good movies don’t come any better than this Australian smash hit, which is an exuberant joy from sequined start to feathered finish. Come Dancing meets Footloose when rebel ballroom star Paul Mercurio hesitantly teams up with ugly duckling novice Tara Morice for an important contest. He wants to perform his own Latin routine, however, rather than the boring steps set by the conservative dancing federation. Will love be in the air? What do you think! As kitsch and as corny as anything, this hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy drama is the ideal pick-me-up. It’s bright, breezy and strictly fabulous.

Dazed and Confused – 11:10pm, Film4

Some of Hollywood’s hottest young talent cut their teeth on this ultra-hip movie, among them Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Ben Affleck and Adam Goldberg. But it’s Jason London and Rory Cochrane who carry this freewheeling story, as a couple of high-school wasters on the last day of the summer term, not daring to look beyond the party in the woods that night. After giving voice to the disconnected youth of Austin, Texas, in his highly influential debut feature, Slacker, director Richard Linklater here defines the same generation as teenagers in 1976 – the year of the American Bicentennial. Employing a deceptively simple pseudo-documentary style, this is school daze à la Fast Times at Ridgemont High, as opposed to the nostalgic wallowings of such rose-tinted memoirs as American Graffiti. This is teenage in the raw, with all the attendant angst, arrogance, aggression and amorousness. Every kid who was in your class is in here somewhere. Rarely have the attractions and distractions of killing time been so well presented. With a superb sense of period and a scorching soundtrack – Kiss, Alice Cooper et al – this honest and incisive portrait of the way we were is both funny and scary and ranks among the very best rock ‘n’ roll high-school movies.

American Graffiti – 1:15am, Film4

A summer night in the lives of a group of small-town Californian teenagers following their graduation from high school in 1962 is brilliantly captured by director George Lucas in this classic coming-of-age saga based on his own youthful exploits. This movie virtually invented juke-box nostalgia and the wall-to-wall golden-oldies soundtrack is a perfect complement to the sharp and tender comedy, engagingly played out by the likes of Richard Dreyfuss and Ronny (Ron) Howard, two of a number of future stars in the cast. Wonderfully evoking the feel and spirit of the era, this is one of those rare movies you live through rather than watch.


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