Easter is upon us and – as per flipping usual – the weather looks like it’s going to be pretty grim. What better reason then, than to curl up on the sofa, crack open the Easter eggs and indulge in a classic movie?
Here’s the best films to watch over Easter weekend on the free UK TV channels.
Romancing The Stone (Good Friday 30 March, 12.05pm, C4)
Good, old-fashioned swashbuckling action from the 80s – and the masterful Robert Zemeckis – as Michael Douglas’s rough diamond bird smuggler and Kathleen Turner’s timid romance novelist head for the exotic wilds of Colombia in search of a fabled gem stone, pursued by the secret police and Danny DeVito’s hapless kidnapper Ralph.
The Searchers (Good Friday 30 March, 3.15pm, C5)
Often cited as one of the greatest movies of all time, John Ford’s towering, epic western finds John Wayne’s civil war veteran in search of his niece (Natalie Wood), who has been abducted by Comanche indians. As powerful today as it was in 1956.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Good Friday 30 March, 11.55am, ITV4)
With a sequel potentially on the offing, it’s probably time to revisit the movie which gave us our first proper introduction to Keanu Reeves, as the dim bulb Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan who with pal Bill S. Preston Esq (Alex Winter) travel through time in order to usher in world peace via their band, Wyld Stallyns, meeting Sigmund Freud, Napoleon Joan of Arc and Beethoven along the way. Most excellent.
Back To The Future (Saturday 31 March, 6.45pm, Film4)
Flux capacitors, Libyan terrorists, Chuck Berry, Van Halen, and a DeLorean. Unlikely elements came together perfectly in 1985, propelling Michael J. Fox to stardom at, roughly, 88 miles per hour. Still as much fun for each new generation, you’d be hard pressed to pin down a more perfect family movie.
Jaws (Sunday 1 April, 9pm, ITV4)
Whatever strides Steven Spielberg has made since (and they are many), it always comes back to Jaws, the movie that created the summer blockbuster. Thanks to some truly perfect casting, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw’s hunt for a killer Great White shark still has the power to overwhelm and terrify. Magnificent.
Selma (Sunday 1 April, 11pm, BBC2)
Director Ava DuVernay’s breakthrough, this stunning re-telling of how Dr Martin Luther King Jr (portrayed by Brit actor David Oyelowo) and the civil rights movement took to the streets in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 to secure voting rights for black people, in the face of violent opposition. Powerful and important filmmaking.
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Sunday 1 April, 11.25pm, ITV4)
Brooding and brilliant, this star-laden western (Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Mary-Louise Parker) is something of a modern masterpiece. With cinematography from the legendary Roger Deakins, its slow pace and mood setting rewards your patience in spades.
Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call New Orleans (Sunday 1 April, 10.45pm, Film4)
A real curveball from the equally revered Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage. Not really a remake of Abel Ferrara’s dreadful 1992 movie of (roughly) the same name, it finds Cage’s corrupt, drug-addled cop tasked with investigating a series of murders in New Orleans, to the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina. A surreal classic, thanks to Cage’s unhinged performance.
My Neighbour Totoro (Monday 2 April, 1.05pm, Film4)
Often dubbed one of the greatest animated movies of all time, Japanese legend Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, presents an endlessly lovable tale of friendship set in postwar rural Japan. There are forest sprites and spirits, magic, mystery and a huge, friendly creature called Totoro to watch over schoolgirl Satsuke and her sister Mei. Stunning.
Paddington (Monday 2 April, 4.40pm, Film4)
One of the best family movies in recent memory – and that’s including its equally superlative sequel – Paddington finds the Peruvian bear with a fondness for preserves trying to evade the clutches of evil taxidermist Millicent Clyde, played to the hilt by Nicole Kidman. Also starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington, it’s a delight from beginning to end.