Whisky Galore Photo: Optimum Releasing
Whisky Galore, 10pm, BBC4, Thursday January 14
Seventy years has done little to dim the subversive joy of Alexander Mackendrick's Hebridean wartime comedy - which it's worth remembering, was his directorial debut. Compton Mackenzie's novel - which was inspired by the actual grounding of the SS Politician off Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides - springs to glorious life, bursting with colour despite the black and white. As the locals try to salvage 50,000 cases of Scotch from a stricken US ship while outwitting a pompous Englishman Basil Radford who has been sent to the island, the character and visual comedy build to dram fine effect. Read our full review.
The Angel's Share, BBC iPlayer, until December
If Whisky Galore! puts you in the mood for more of the spirit, then why not make it a double-bill with this Scottish charmer, which sees Ken Loach and regular writing partner Paul Laverty bringing the warmth of the liquor to this tale of social realism about a group of young offenders doing community service. There is a medicinal message about the poverty trap but it's washed down with plenty of humour and an enjoyable if familiar heist plot. Read our full review.
War of the Worlds, BBC iPlayer until Thursday
Steven Spielberg's tense take on HG Wells' much-adapted novel, unsurprisingly transports the action to America and does what he does best by embedding it within a domestic context and one of his favourite frameworks, a fractured family. Dock worker Ray (Tom Cruise) is the epitome of A Bad Dad and if it's not worrying enough that his ex has just dropped his sullen teenage son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) and 10-year-old daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) off to stay, there's also the small matter of a highly violent alien invasion to deal with. Spielberg takes us on the run with Ray and his kids as he tries to keep them alive in the face of overwhelming odds. While there's no mistaking the hand of Spielberg here - from his clever use of lighting special effects - a trick that works as well now as it did with the likes of Close Encounters - to his attention to the perspective of children, writers David Koepp and Josh Friedman also retain the flavour of the Wells' original, including a cellar scene that sings with anxiety. The production design is also fantastic, from the sinister, almost body horror nature of the red weed to the tripod invaders with their sinuous snake-like probes. Read our full review.
The Secret Of Kells, iPlayer until February
Writer/director Tomm Moore has a knack for drawing on traditional myths and real history for his immersive animated tales - and you can catch his latest, Wolfwalkers, on Apple TV. This is an opportunity to catch-up with his debut - co-directed by Nora Twomey - which sees a young monk trying to help complete an illuminated manuscript. Although the story is a bit sprawling - and focus is something that he has definitely improved on with Wolfwalkers - this is a visual treat, drawing on the Book of Kells and other Celtic art for its inspiration, giving it an beguiling intricacy. Read our full review.
The Boston Strangler, 9.15pm, Saturday, January 16, Talking Pictures TV
Jennie Kermode writes: In the early 1960s, at least 13 women were raped and strangled in their Boston homes, sparking a city-wide panic and intensive police investigation. This, ostensibly, is the subject of Richard Fleischer's 1968 film, but his work goes far beyond the familiar dynamics of the police procedural to take on political and cultural issues as well as popular perspectives in psychiatry at the time. It gave Tony Curtis the chance to reinvent himself as a more serious actor in the role of Albert DeSalvo, whom Fleischer positions as the killer (though despite the emergence of DNA evidence in later years, it has never been certain that he committed all the crimes). Fleischer is interested in getting inside his head and under the surface of a city where women were used to living with sexual violence ignored by the police. His exploration of the experiences of marginalised groups was considered scandalous at the time and reveals a city whose complexity ultimately shifts the focus of the film. Read our full review.
The Scouting Book For Boys, 2.10am, Film4, Tuesday, January 12
Tom Harper has recently gone on to critical acclaim with Wild Rose - helping propel Jessie Buckley into a household name - and as this early film (his first feature not made for TV) from him shows, he's always had a knack for working with excellent talent. It stars Thomas Turgoose and Holliday Granger as David and Emily, teenage friends-to-the-end at a caravan park, whose decision to try to prevent Emily being moved away has dark, unforeseen consequences. Writer Jack Thorne, who has gone on to garner a CV including This Is England 90, His Dark Materials and films including Radioactive, brings the realism of his previous work, Skins, to the film, even if the subsidiary characters are a bit thin. Class is added to the entire enterprise by some lovely magic hour lensing from the ever-dependable Robbie Ryan as he broke into features with this and the likes of Fish Tank. Read our full review.
Jennie Kermode writes: David Cronenberg has always had a knack of exploring social issues before most people recognise their seriousness, and as virtual environments have increased in realism and popularity, this 1999 thriller has increased in relevance. In many ways it can be seen as a sequel to 1983's Videodrome, and though it lacks that film's sharp political acumen, it still packs a punch. Jude Law is the lowly computer game company employee charged with exploring a new game, Jennifer Jason Leigh the designer he must try to outwit, but there's more going on than is first apparent in a tale that's as much about late stage capitalism as it is about body horror and guns that fire teeth. Before you get too frustrated trying to work out why you should care if you might still be in the game, it's worth asking yourself which game the director is referring to. This is a film that gazes also into you. Read our full review.
Our short this week would have made an excellent inclusion in our recent Streaming Spotlight on starting over. Chris Filippone and Jamie Meltzer's New York Times Op-Doc offers a snapshot of men newly released from jail as they congregate at a bus station in the limbo between their old world and the new. Watch it here