Casablanca to Clifford the Big Red Dog: the seven best films on TV

Pick of the week

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Jack Whitehall in Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Jack Whitehall in Clifford the Big Red Dog. Photograph: Paramount/Allstar

A live-action film remake of a 60-year-old children’s book is never going to win awards, especially not when it features Jack Whitehall performing an only intermittently American accent. But look hard enough and Clifford the Big Red Dog justifies its own existence by dint of its amazing supporting cast. Saturday Night Live alumni Kenan Thompson and Alex Moffat work hard to keep the film self-aware, while Tony Hale turns in a perfectly judged baddie. Only John Cleese seems not to have got the memo, slathering his character in nauseating twinkliness. Other than that, better than it has any right to be. Stuart Heritage
Saturday 25 June, 12.30pm & 6.05pm, Sky Cinema Premiere


Hearts Beat Loud

Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons.
Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons in Hearts Beat Loud. Photograph: Park Pictures/Allstar

A gem of an underwatched film, Hearts Beat Loud stars Nick Offerman as a widowed father trying to connect with his daughter (Kiersey Clemons) through their shared love of music. Beautifully observed – any parent watching will wince at Offerman overzealously taking an interest in his daughter’s life – Hearts Beat Loud has enough Brooklyn cred to stop it from drowning in sentimentality, and enough warmth to save it from offputting hipsterdom. Keegan DeWitt’s music is another big plus.
Saturday 25 June, 4.30pm, GREAT! Movies


Borg vs McEnroe

Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason in Borg vs McEnroe.
Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason in Borg vs McEnroe. Photograph: Julie Vrabelova

Janus Metz Pedersen’s 2017 film sets an almost impossible task for itself, by trying to dramatise a highly dramatic tennis rivalry, featuring two players who each had far more raw charisma than most Hollywood actors combined. And yet, thanks to a taut script and impressive casting choices, the film works like gangbusters. Its focus is on Sverrir Gudnason’s Björn Borg, but Shia LaBeouf also makes for an explosive John McEnroe. Like its tonal cousin Ford v Ferrari, the beauty of Borg vs McEnroe is how skilfully it avoids tipping into parody.
Saturday 25 June,10.30pm, BBC Two


Rebel Dykes

This feature-length documentary by Harri Shanahan and Siân A Williams manages to be many things at once. It’s a postcard from a very specific era (the early 1980s, when Thatcherism collided with a post-punk S&M London lesbianism). It’s a guidebook to splashy activism (we see the subjects abseil down the House of Lords and invade live news broadcasts). It’s a still-angry reaction to Section 28. It’s home to one of the best Ian McKellen interviews you will ever hear, complete with a startling anecdote about a dental dam. In short, it has it all.
Tuesday 28 June, 1.05am, Channel 4


Casablanca

The easiest film in the world to recommend. If you have never seen Casablanca, here’s your chance. If you have seen Casablanca, here’s your chance to shut out the rest of the world and watch it again. This is the 80th anniversary of Michael Curtiz’s wartime romance, and it is incredible to see how well it has aged. The plot – a self-interested cynic chooses between love and duty – remains relevant, and the film’s ending still manages to hit you right where it hurts. Unbeatable.
Saturday 25 June 1.20pm, BBC Two, Thursday 30 June, 9pm, BBC Four


Paranormal Activity

Katie Featherston in Paranormal Activity.
Katie Featherston in Paranormal Activity. Photograph: Cinetext/Paramount Pictures/Allstar

Meanwhile, here is the Casablanca of mid-00s found-footage. Although much of its reputation has been stripped away by its punishing onslaught of sequels, the original Paranormal Activity is still something of a classic. Deliberately (for the sake of budget) spare, the movie follows a couple as they move around their house trying to figure out the cause of flickering lights and off-screen thuds. The seamlessness with which the mystery grows is astonishing, and the payoff brutal. If you’ve been put off by all the inferior copycats, it might be time to reacquaint yourself with the original.
Thursday 30 June, 9pm, Horror Xtra


House of Whipcord

Ann Michelle in House of Whipcord.
Ann Michelle in House of Whipcord. Photograph: Ronald Grant

Any movie that opens with the words “This film is dedicated to those who are disturbed by today’s lax moral codes and who eagerly await the return of corporal and capital punishment” will have an uphill battle on its hands, but this campy low-budget 1974 British horror – about an old judge who runs a brutal correctional facility from his mansion – is cheap and nasty in all the right ways, if you like that sort of thing. Hard to watch at times, it is the sort of grubby mess that sticks with you long after it finishes. Keep your eyes peeled for a young Celia Imrie, too.
Friday 1 July 11pm, Talking Pictures TV

The Guardian

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