The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson, The Big Blockade, Philadelphia, The Book of Eli, Total Recall: films on TV today

A punk rocker's epiphany, wartime propaganda and prophecies of the future: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson ★★★★★
10.35pm-12.10am BBC1 


In January 2013, 64-year-old guitarist Wilko Johnson, formerly of Canvey Island pub rock pioneers Dr Feelgood, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Refusing chemotherapy, he embraced the clarity brought on by his imminent demise and announced a farewell tour. Partisan director Julien Temple, whose documentaries have captured the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer and Dr Feelgood (Oil City Confidential, in which Johnson shone), employs his usual expressionistic blending of interview and archive to create a film both esoteric and down-to-earth. Themed extracts from La Belle et la Bete, Orphee and The Seventh Seal sit comfortably with Johnson’s love of poetry, literature and astronomy, an academic depth that belies his image as a duck-walking disciple of rock ’n’ roll. His near-miraculous reprieve after surgery in 2014 gives the film its final act, which is as honest as the first, if more contemplative. This incredible, personal story about an inspirational, no-nonsense figure resonates far beyond the music scene it also thrillingly depicts. 

The Big Blockade ★★★
11.55am-1.25pm More4 

John Mills keeps a stiff upper lip in a cheeky WW2 propaganda film from Ealing Studios, championing the work of the Ministry of Economic Warfare.

Philadelphia ★★★★★
9.00-11.25pm Film4

Tom Hanks lets his body go to waste as a lawyer penalised for having Aids, but the performance is heavyweight. It earned him his first Oscar.    

The Book of Eli ★★★
10.00pm-12.20am 5★ 

Denzel Washington is the lone wanderer, headed west across America on a quest that might restore hope to a post-apocalyptic world. 

Total Recall ★★★★
11.05pm-1.25am ITV4 

Lashings of black humour along with snazzy visuals and ultra-violence means this sci-fi caper has big impact. Oh, and there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, too.    



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