December 28: Films of the day

ARTS Editor Andrew Clarke brings you his pick of the best films on offer next Bank Holiday Tuesday...

Bank Holiday Tuesday 28/12/10

- ET: The Extra-Terrestrial; ITV1, 2.40pm

One of Steven Spielberg’s many masterpieces. This engaging tale of a small squat alien stranded on Earth and befriended by a group of children never fails to move audiences and even now the special effects haven’t dated at all.

For all the early comedy and heart-tugging sequences towards the end of the film, the most effective sequence remains the forest hunt with unseen men, armed with torches and jangling keys charging through the undergrowth determined to capture ET.

It’s a beautiful story told with economy and style. It’s okay to shed a tear at the end.

- Robots; ITV1, 4.50pm

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Clever animated comedy featuring the combined talents of Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams and Mel Brooks in this fast-paced look at the technological world.

There are plenty of set-piece sequences to keep the youngsters happy but there is also some really smart dialogue that will entertain the grown ups.

The comedy is slightly subversive, and has a lot of say about the way our society is run and the role that big business now plays.

Robin Williams is on particuarly inspired form and probably hasn’t been this good since he played the genie in Aladdin.

- Chicken Run; BBC1, 3.10pm

Aardmann Animation’s first venture into the world of feature film making and they came up with a real winner in this wonderful takeoff of The Great Escape.

The claymation is wonderfully done and the distinctive voice cast breathes life into these Plasticine hens.

Julia Swalaha is the heroine Ginger aided and hindered by Jane Horrocks as the dim Babs and Imelda Staunton as Bunty.

Miranda Richardson is an astonishing evil farmer’s wife while Mel Gibson is the cocky American circus rooster Rocky. Huge fun particularly if you know and love The Great Escape.

- Miss Potter; BBC2, 6.30pm

Renee Zellwegger plays artist Beatrix Potter in this touching bio-pic about her younger years and the struggle she had to not only get her stories and drawings published but also to establish her independence.

Ewan McGregor plays her publisher and sweetheart with genuine affability and helps ground what could be an overly twee film.

Babe director Chris Noonan has great fun bring Beatrix Potter’s family of animals to life and it’s interesting to discover that this Victorian woman was one of the first people to act to protect areas of outstanding natural beauty like The Lake District.

- I Am Legend; ITV1, 9pm

Would the last man alive please turn out the lights? That man is Robert Neville, who finds himself walking deserted streets by day and hiding from zombies by night after a disease wipes out humanity and turns the survivors into flesh-eating beasts.

It’s very impressive to look at, and there are few actors who could manage to carry a film entirely on their own.

Will Smith does a great job as the last man alive, hinting at the emotional and mental problems brought on by extreme isolation and working furiously to find an antidote to the condition that has destroyed the world.

- Juno; Film4, 9pm

A wonderfully smart, clever comedy about teenage pregnancy told with wit and a tremendous sense of style.

This Oscar-winning comedy is one of the treasures of the Christmas season. If you only see one film this Christmas - make it this one.

Ellen Paige is the eponymous heroine who gets deliver some of the smartest, cleverest dialogue ever put into the mouth of a 16 year old girl.

Writer Diablo Cody deservedly won an Oscar for her script. Paige gets fabulous support from JK Simmons as her loving father, Alison Janney as her step-mother and Jason Bateman as the baby’s prospective adoptive -father.

It’s a warm, witty film that doesn’t duck the difficult issues but finds an entertaining way to talk about them.