BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
This is Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, probably the most influential thriller of them all. Scores of film-makers have tried to recapture the nail-biting shock/horror of what goes on in the Bates Motel (prop. Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins) and none has succeeded. From the moment Hitchcock kills off his heroine (Janet Leigh) a third of the way through, the audience is simply the orchestra, with Hitch the conductor coaxing them into what to think and expect, and then leading them in an entirely different direction. Paramount refused to release the film, saying it was “too repulsive”; The Observer’s critic CA Lejeune agreed and quit her job in disgust after seeing it. They were both wrong – this is a great movie.
The James Bond franchise was languishing in the doldrums before this cracking instalment turned its fortunes around. Pierce Brosnan had to wait till he was released from his Remington Steele contract in order to play 007, and he throws himself into the role with gusto. All the other elements come together brilliantly, too, from Famke Janssen’s sexy henchwoman to Tina Turner’s Bassey-ish theme tune. Still one of the best of the bunch.
9.00-11.05pm Film Four
Comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost wrote and star in this romp, which sees them play a pair of sci-fi nerds who have a close encounter with a real ET while exploring Area 51. The fact that this visitor is voiced by Seth Rogen may give you a clue that he’s not your average Spielbergian celestial being; rather he’s party-lovin’ stoner with an unfortunate habit of exposing himself. No wonder secret service agent Jason Bateman is out to get him.
Take two of the biggest scenery-chewers in Hollywood, give them one of the daffiest stories ever conceived, then hand it over to the world’s most over-the-top action director, and what do you get? Perhaps the most insane blockbuster of the 1990s. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage star as the men from opposite sides of the law who do the extreme makeover thing and borrow each other’s faces, while John Woo choreographs the epic gun battles like a ballet.
Ocean’s Eleven ★★★★
This super-slick update of the really rather boring 1960s Rat Pack heist movie has a cast to die for. George Clooney takes the Frank Sinatra role as Danny Ocean, Brad Pitt is his forever-hungry second-in-command, Elliott Gould is the man funding the heist and Matt Damon is the young pickpocket they all take a chance on. Okay, so Don Cheadle’s cockney accent makes Dick Van Dyke sound like a native EastEnder, but otherwise this caper is as cool as they come.