Top Films to watch, week beginning Saturday, November 23

Saturday 23/11/19

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) (Channel 5, 2.10pm)

Penniless Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore) is thrilled when he finds a golden ticket hidden in a chocolate bar and wins a tour of reclusive confectionary genius Willy Wonka's (Johnny Depp) factory. The building turns out to be just as magical as Charlie had hoped, but his fellow winners soon find out that chocolate factories are dangerous places for children who don't do as they're told... Director Tim Burton, actor Johnny Depp and author Roald Dahl sound like they should be a match made in heaven. However, older viewers may find themselves comparing this film unfavourably with the 1971 version, and decide that Gene Wilder is the definitive Wonka. Judged on its own terms though, this film is still a lot of fun and, as with most Burton movies, it looks fantastic.

Happy Feet (2006) (5STAR, 4.45pm)

Elijah Wood, Robin Williams and Nicole Kidman are just some of the stars providing the voices in this feelgood, computer-animated musical comedy about a misfit's quest to find his place in the world. In a colony of emperor penguins where singing is the only way to find true love, a tone-deaf youngster called Mumble is ostracised for his lack of vocal talent. His only skill is for tap-dancing, which only emphasises how different he is to the rest of the penguins, leaving him an outcast in a harsh, unforgiving environment. The story of young Mumble's quest to fit in will warm the cockles of your heart, interspersed with some funky musical interludes.

What Doesn't Kill You (2008) (BBC1, 12.20am)

An impressive cast makes this crime drama worth a look. Mob boss Pat Kelly (Brian Goodman) exerts a strong hold over the criminal fraternity in South Boston including petty thugs Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke), who grew up together. A botched robbery lands Brian some jail time, and behind bars he resolves to turn his life around and support his family. However, ties to the neighbourhood are difficult to break so when Brian is eventually released, Paulie leads him astray. Detective Moran (Donnie Wahlberg) exerts pressure on Brian to turn his back on crime and the jailbird must face the agonising choice between the past and an uncertain future.

Sunday 24/11/19

Great Expectations (1946) (BBC2, 3.05pm)

There have been plenty of film adaptations of Charles Dickens' novel, but this one is by far and away the best. John Mills heads an excellent cast, with director David Lean creating the perfect atmosphere and setting. For the uninitiated, this classic tells the story of orphan Pip, who falls in love with the adopted daughter of an eccentric old woman. A mysterious benefactor provides him with the opportunity to rise through the ranks of London's high society. However, he soon forgets all about his humble roots, and isn't prepared when he discovers the truth about the girl he loves and the stranger funding his new life.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) (STV, 4.00pm)

The penultimate film in the franchise finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) facing renewed threat from the nefarious Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his followers, who continue to grow in power. Separated from their friends, Harry, Ron and Hermione embark on a perilous quest to track down the mysterious Horcruxes and stop the forces of darkness forever. David Yates, who directed The Half-Blood Prince, strikes an even darker, gloomier tone here, leavened with occasional flashes of humour. The young wizards' extended camping trip may try non-fans' patience, but even they should be impressed by a stylish animated sequence that recounts The Tale of the Three Brothers, which explains the meaning of the Deathly Hallows

Bad Neighbours (2014) (Channel 4, 11.00pm)

Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) struggle to cope with the responsibilities of parenthood. When the house next door goes up for sale and booze-guzzling fraternity boys, led by president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and second-in-command Pete (Dave Franco), move in, the Radners fear the worst. They pay a visit to the new neighbours and politely ask Teddy to keep the noise down. In return, the couple promises not to call the cops at the first sign of trouble, but to approach Teddy to resolve any issues. During a raucous frat party, Mac and Kelly break their promise and dial 911, lighting the fuse on a battle of wits and mean-spirited pranks. It may have a thin premise, but Nicholas Stoller's potty-mouthed comedy does have a likeable cast and plenty of good gags.

Monday 25/11/19

Half a Sixpence (1967) (BBC2, 2.55pm)

Based on HG Wells' novel Kipps, this musical stars Tommy Steele as Arthur, a humble draper's assistant in Edwardian London who unexpectedly inherits a fortune. The money soon goes to his head, as he drifts away from his old friends and girlfriend Ann (Julia Foster) in favour of high society and an upper-class lady (Penelope Horner). This musical was already considered old-fashioned on its release in 1967 and, at 139 minutes, its definitely overlong. Luckily, it also has exuberance and energy to spare, a likeable leading man in Steele, and some great songs, including Flash, Bang, Wallop! and If the Rain's Got to Fall.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) (Film4, 6.35pm)

Sonny (Dev Patel) and business partner Muriel (Maggie Smith) travel abroad to seek investment for a second hotel from business chief Ty Burley (David Strathairn) and return to India, mindful that funding is dependent on a review from a secret inspector. English traveller Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) and American novelist Guy (Richard Gere) arrive soon after and Sonny is convinced that Guy must be the inspector so he ignores Lavinia and lavishes attention on the writer. Meanwhile, Sonny is preoccupied with his impending nuptials to Sunaina (Tina Desai) and a simmering rivalry for his fiancee's affections from snake-hipped family friend Kush (Shazad Latif). The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an entertaining if predictable sequel, which delivers the same winning formula of laughter and tears.

Tuesday 26/11/19

Carmen Jones (1954) (BBC2, 3.35pm)

Director Otto Preminger's updated version of Bizet's opera Carmen tells the story of a seductive woman (Dorothy Dandridge) who raises the temperature at the military base where she works making parachutes. Although she could have her choice of the soldiers, the one Carmen really wants is upstanding, engaged pilot Joe (Harry Belafonte). He finds it hard to resist her sultry charms and they embark on a passionate affair with tragic consequences. As if rewriting a classic opera wasn't daring enough (Oscar Hammerstein provided the lyrics), this musical also features an all-black cast - a rarity for a mainstream film of the time. However, it's a risk that paid off handsomely, as Harry Belafonte and the Oscar-nominated Dorothy Dandridge do a great job of capturing the passion of the tale.

Ashby (2015) (Film4, 11.25pm) Premiere.

Following his parents' divorce, teenager Ed (Nat Wolff) moves to a new town where he struggles to fit in. However, he does strike up an unlikely friendship with his terminally ill neighbour Ashby (Mickey Rourke), who claims to be a retired napkin salesman but who Ed quickly discovers is really a former CIA assassin. As Ashby opens up to Ed about his past, he starts to realise the extent to which he was used by his former bosses and decides to take his revenge before it's too late. The film never quite makes the most of its decent cast (which also includes Sarah Silverman and Emma Roberts) and promising premise, but it still makes for an entertaining comedy-drama.

Wednesday 27/11/19

The Man from UNCLE (2015) (5STAR, 8.00pm)

Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) is the beautiful mastermind of a criminal organisation, which hopes to destabilise global peace using a warhead armed by nuclear scientist Udo Teller (Christian Berkel). CIA handler Sanders (Jared Harris) instructs his debonair agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) to join forces with KGB counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to thwart Victoria's nefarious plan. More than 50 years after the achingly cool TV series The Man from UNCLE exploited Cold War paranoia for rollicking entertainment, director Guy Ritchie continues to explore fractious male dynamics in this stylish, globe-trotting spy caper. It' s just a shame the script couldn't find more for Alicia Vikander to do.

GoodFellas (1990) (ITV4, 10.00pm)

Martin Scorsese's new movie The Irishman hits Netflix this week, but here's a chance to remind yourself of his previous Mob masterpiece. Growing up in a poor neighbourhood, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) harbours dreams of commanding respect by becoming a gangster. He seems to be on course to achieve his ambitions when he starts running errands for the local Mafia and slowly works his way up the ranks, helped by his friendship with Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro). However, his rise is threatened by his volatile marriage, increasing involvement in drugs and unpredictable mate Tommy (Joe Pesci). Scorsese effortlessly switches between black humour and genuine menace, and gets career-best performances out of Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and the Oscar-winning Pesci.

Thursday 28/11/19

Pale Rider (1985) (ITV4, 10pm)

A group of impoverished prospectors are being terrorised by the henchmen of a local businessman who wants to drive them out of the area. In desperation, a terrified teenage girl prays for help and her wish is granted when a mysterious preacher arrives out of the blue. But this is no ordinary man of the cloth. Instead, he's a skilful fighter and gunman whose expertise proves rather handy. Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this Western, which isn't one of its best - it pales in comparison to his not-totally dissimilar High Plains Drifter, and genre buffs may also pick up echoes of the 1950s classic Shane - but its mysterious air and religious overtones certainly make it an intriguing offering.

I Am Not a Witch (2017) (Film4, 11.15pm) Premiere.

The debut feature film from Zambian-born, Welsh-raised writer-director Rungano Nyoni isn't easy to categorise. Maggie Mulubwa stars as Shula, a young girl who is accused of being a witch on the basis that strange things have happened since she turned up in her village. She's sent to a witch camp, where she finds some sense of community among the other women, but the man in charge, Mr Banda (Henry BJ Phiri) decides to exploit her supposed powers for profit. The movie was inspired by Nyoni's own experiences of visiting a real witch camp, but while it does explore the realities of these women lives, there's also a touch of magic to this striking, deeply unusual tale.

Friday 29/11/19

Top Hat (1935) (BBC2, 3.35pm)

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' fourth film together is also their best, thanks to a delightfully frothy script and some truly iconic dance scenes. Astaire stars as dancer Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire), who first meets model Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) in a London hotel - she's in the room below his and complains that his tapping is disturbing her. For him, it's love at first sight, but a case of mistaken identity leads her to believe that he's her best friend's husband and she's outraged by his attempts to pursue her. The plot is just a flimsy excuse for some terrific numbers, including Top Hat, White Tie and Tails and the sweepingly romantic Cheek to Cheek.

Cosmopolis (2012) (BBC2, 11.45pm)

Robert Pattinson proved there was more to him than the Twilight movies in David Cronenberg's drama. Adapted from the book of the same name by Don DeLillo and set almost entirely within the confines of a stretched limousine, the film focuses on twenty-something billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), who has made his fortune by playing the financial markets and stabbing his rivals in the back. He travels across Manhattan in his elongated vehicle, irritated that a presidential motorcade has brought New York's traffic to a standstill. He wiles away a few minutes by cheating on his wife, before welcoming financial analyst Vija Kinsky (Samantha Morton) and computer programmer Shiner (Jay Baruchel) into his car, drawing on their expertise to protect his vast portfolio when the financial markets crash.