HDTV Movie Highlights: May 8-14

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Saturday.

This unusual Holocaust drama, about the friendship between a Jewish youngster in a concentration camp and the son of the Nazi commandant, divided critics and left the likes of the Los Angeles Times in two minds: “The film’s two levels — metaphoric and nitty-gritty – don’t mesh until the devastation of the closing sequence, which both indulges in and transcends melodrama.” Mark Herman (Little Voice, Brassed Off) directs a cast that includes Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), David Thewlis (Harry Potter) and Sheila Hancock. (2009)

Jurassic Park: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

The mammoth Steven Spielberg hit about a genetic engineering experiment with dinosaur DNA that goes dangerously askew when the offspring run amok on a private island. Before it cloned two sequels, the idea was inspired and the special effects spellbinding, but so slight and one-dimensional is the human element that the key characters come across more cartoon-like than Fred and Wilma. Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum star. (1993)

State of Play: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

This slick, state-of-the-art Hollywood thriller boasts sterling true-Brit credentials: the Scottish director of The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald), one of Britain’s best actresses (Helen Mirren) and a screenplay based on the award-winning BBC mini-series. The 2003 conspiracy scenario about politics, journalism and big business has been relocated to Washington DC and smartly updated to incorporate the Iraq war and the rise of the Internet. Save for a lamentable climax, it’s a tense, stylish, thought-provoking two hours that intelligently condenses the six-hour original while retaining most of its dramatic integrity. Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck co-star. (2009)

Legally Blonde: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Monday.

Likable but illogical comedy starring Reese Witherspoon as a perky preen queen who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back the boyfriend who dumped her because of his senatorial ambitions (he wants a “Jackie” for his wife, not a “Marilyn”). There she proves she’s no blonde bimbo but a brainbox with a heart who befriends misfits and rivals, surprises sceptics and wins an impossible court case with native cunning. Witherspoon is winsome enough but she can’t overcome a screenplay so predictable, pedestrian and stereotypical that it’s not worth mounting a defence for. (2001)

The Chamber: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Friday.

The first of the John Grisham best sellers to bomb at the box office starred Gene Hackman in a tour-de-force turn as a Mississippi racist who’s on Death Row for killing the children of a Jewish lawyer. Chris O’Donnell co-stars as the estranged grandson-cum-idealistic lawyer who tries to win him clemency in spite of steadfast opposition from Hackman and the political establishment. It stumbles badly towards the end but mostly this is a compelling drama that surprises with its clever twists and courageous outcome. Francis Ford Coppola was the director for hire. (1996)

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