If a non-stop diet of the likes of A Christmas Carol and Home Alone has left you thoroughly sick of the festive season, it may be time for a reset
Movie round-up, from Friday 14 December
When you feel yourself drifting into a Christmas slump, it’s probably time to move away from the tales of carolling and gift-giving and back to stories about long odds, grifters, war heroes – literally anything else, in fact. Thankfully, we have a guaranteed Christmas-free selection of aliens, monsters, lovers, losers and vigilantes to give you a welcome break from all the festivities.
Take two of these before bed and you’ll be ho-ho-ho-ing again in no time. Call it your Sanity Clause.
Friday 14 December, 10.20pm, Dave/HD (CH 127/194). Cert 18
It’s not the best-known film from the dream team of director Martin Scorsese and leading man Robert De Niro, but Casino is on the same level as more talked-about movies like Goodfellas and Raging Bull. De Niro plays Sam “Ace” Rothstein, one of the mobsters who ran Las Vegas during the 1970s. His enforcer and friend Nicky (Joe Pesci) has his back, while gorgeous hustler Ginger (Sharon Stone) provides the romantic complications. But managing a huge profit-skimming operation for the Mafia under the noses of the gaming commission isn’t easy, and heads are likely to roll. Expect glittering lights, glamorous outfits and gory violence.
Saturday 15 December, 12.05am, Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141). Cert 18
The original and best Predator sees some of the toughest men on Earth hunted down by an alien enemy in a tropical jungle. This dreadlocked fiend is able to vanish into thin air, climb trees and set deadly traps – and it likes to skin its victims for horrific good measure. Luckily, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his elite military rescue team buddies don’t have time to bleed, and prepare to face off against the heavily armed ET with nothing but mud and logs. It’s a gloriously violent, incredibly tense and wildly entertaining treat. Friday night is the time to remind yourself why this is a classic.
Saturday 15 December, 9pm, Horror Channel (CH 149). Cert 15
Snakes On A Plane is all very well, but you know what’s better? A snake that could potentially eat a small plane and still have room for a compact car. That’s the situation in Anaconda, in which an outsize reptile menaces a team of scientists and adventurers – including Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz and Ice Cube – somewhere deep in the Amazon. The all-star cast keep you interested in their fate, and the giant snake effects are especially impressive given that the film was made more than two decades ago. But be warned – you may never look at your garden hose the same way again.
Thursday 20 December, 11am, Film4/HD (428/429). Cert PG
Japan’s Studio Ghibli has made its name creating weird and wonderful animated films, including Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle. One of the weirdest and most wonderful is Porco Rosso, the story of a flying ace who also happens to be a pig. Voiced by Michael Keaton in the English version, he’s a flamboyant figure who ends up fighting fascism in 1930s Italy. It’s an unlikely story, but it’s as funny, moving and beautifully told as anything its genius director Hayao Miyazaki has ever made.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Friday 21 December, 9pm, Film4/HD (428/429). Cert 12
This Second World War-set adventure is possibly the most underrated of the Marvel films. Chris Evans is perfectly cast as Steve Rogers, the decent guy who just wants to do his bit for the war effort but is held back by his total weediness. That’s until he undergoes the super-soldier treatment and becomes the mighty Captain America. His path from zero to hero is beautifully drawn, as is his quietly romantic connection with Hayley Atwell’s immensely capable Agent Carter. It’s worth watching just for the bit where he asks her about fondue.
Friday 21 December, 11.25pm, Film4/HD (428/429). Cert 15
Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? Then watch this slow-burning, utterly terrifying horror movie set in 1630s New England, a time of religious hysteria, puritanical thinking and really sinister goats. Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her family live outside of society because of her father’s (Ralph Ineson) extreme views – and after a series of apparent accidents befall her small clan, she comes to suspect the tales of witches in the woods are true. The secluded forest setting makes a creepy backdrop to a film that will haunt you for a long time.
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