My Week with Marilyn, Zoolander, Casper: films on TV today

Eddie Redmayne encounters an icon, Ben Stiller is an icon, Christina Ricci isn't spooked: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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BARRY NORMAN:  FILM OF THE DAY 
My Week with Marilyn ★★★★
10.00-11.30pm BBC4 

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In 1956 Marilyn Monroe came to London to star with and be directed by Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl. The third assistant director on the film was Colin Clark (son of historian Kenneth) whose job was to make sure Marilyn and, while he was around, her playwright husband Arthur Miller were OK. The relationship between the boy Clark (Eddie Redmayne) and the megastar (Michelle Williams) developed into a tender, probably platonic romance while the film-making was chaotic. Marilyn was late, forgot her lines, was out of her depth and a bit of a mess, and Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) fancied her and was infuriated by her. To Clark fell the task of consoling her when she was down and panicky. The result is charming, fascinating both on the film set and off, and the performances are excellent. Williams makes a good fist of portraying the complex Monroe, Redmayne is splendidly cast and Branagh gives us a lovely, sly impersonation of Olivier. 


Zoolander ★★★★
8.10-10.00pm 5STAR 

Born out of a satirical short film that Ben Stiller made with his friend Drake Strather, Zoolander took a while to connect with audiences, but is now considered one of Stiller’s most complete comic creations.  The story sees the international male model with the blue steel stare brainwashed into an assassination attempt. It’s a great dumb comedy that works because the characters take themselves so seriously. And it gains that an extra cool point for coining the sarcastic comeback “cool story, bro”.    


Casper ★★★★
6.50-9.00pm Film4 

The friendly ghost first saw the light of day in 1945 in the first of a series of Paramount shorts, later appearing in comic books and on TV.  But it wasn’t until this first feature that the question was broached of how Casper actually became a ghost. It may be the first movie to have the lead character fully CGI, but it’s the human performances of Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman that save the movie from its meandering moments.   


Fools Rush In ★★★
4.50-7.05pm Movie Mix 

This 90s romcom rather missed the mark at the cinema, but it’s  worth seeking out.  Matthew Perry (whose play, The End of Longing has just finished a successful run in the West End) plays a wasp who has a one-night stand with Mexican Salma Hayek (who, having risen on the back of a soap opera, knows how to play light) that results in pregnancy.  The odd couple decide to make a go of things, but their families and cultural differences put several obstacles in the path of true love. 


Satan’s Slave ★★★
10.55pm-12.40am Horror Channel 

Long before he became known as the butler in Tim Burton’s Batman movies, Michael Gough had a perfectly acceptable career on stage, and was a staple in many a horror and mystery movie. In this OTT tale of ancestral evil, he and his necromancing son Martin Potter lure niece Candace Glendenning to his country mansion as a part of a plan to resurrect witches. It’s got all the lurid, sleazy elements you could ask for, but they don’t all line up at the same time. 


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