ET the Extra-Terrestrial, Non-Stop, Reservoir Dogs, The Descendants: films on TV today

It's out of this world for Henry Thomas, Liam takes flight, Michael Madsen says what's this ear?, and George says aloha: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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BARRY NORMAN:  FILM OF THE DAY 
ET the Extra-Terrestrial ★★★★★
3.20-5.30pm ITV 

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This is the perfect family film – a magical tale for children, a triumph of special effects, and, as director Steven Spielberg describes it, a simple and pure love story. It’s the love that grows between a small boy, Henry Thomas, and an ugly alien, ET, who missed his spacecraft home. Thomas finds him hiding in the garden and coaxes him into the house, there to conceal him from prying and menacing adults. Spielberg’s particular gift for creating tension, exploding it with a laugh and then letting it build again is superbly displayed, as we follow the efforts of Thomas to help ET avoid capture and return home. The imagery is spectacular, especially a scene in which kids on bikes fly across the face of the moon, and there is one sequence so touching it will cause as much grief as the death of Bambi’s mother. There is also a serious message: we should never judge others by their appearance or origin but by their nature and behaviour, and that’s something nobody can learn too early.


Non-Stop ★★★
PREMIERE 9.00-11.10pm C4 

Here’s one you’ll never get as an in-flight movie: Liam Neeson lends his considerable presence to a frenetic tale of an air marshal who starts receiving ransom demands after take-off.


Glory ★★★★
10.45pm-12.40am BBC2 

African American soldiers face racism from their own side in this powerfully moving Civil War drama starring Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman.


Reservoir Dogs ★★★★★
12 midnight-1.45am C5 

Quentin Tarantino’s barnstorming debut announced the birth of a maverick talent, as he expertly details out the fallout of a jewel heist gone spectacularly wrong.


The Descendants ★★★★
12.10-2.10am C4 

In a disarmingly funny and poignant turn, George Clooney is a Hawaiian lawyer stalking his comatose wife’s lover. Alas, the flip-flops slow him down.


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