Films of the week: A powerful study of rift in love, life and expectation in Blue Valentine

 

Friday

Blue Valentine

12.10am Channel 4

(Derek Cianfrance, 2010) Cross-cutting between the beginning of a love affair and its bitter end, this grungy indie take on Scenes From a Marriage is about how, almost without noticing, people can find themselves living the exact kinds of lives they hadn't wanted to. It is so naturalistic and truthful, and the performances by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are so intense and unguarded, that it almost feels indecent to witness. *****

Saturday

To Kill a Mockingbird

1.05pm ITV3

(Robert Mulligan, 1963) Atticus Finch – a widower father of two children and a lawyer principled enough to defend a black man in Thirties Alabama – was Gregory Peck's greatest role, and Harper Lee even said that it gave Peck "the chance to play himself". Like the character, this film's blend of courtroom drama and Southern gothic is well-intentioned, impeccably presented and wholly admirable. *****

Sunday

Whip It

9pm ITV2

(Drew Barrymore, 2009) Hip, but not achingly so, and sweet without being cloying, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut is a film about teenage life and female friendships. Page stars as a small-town kid who feels a sense of belonging for the first time after she discovers women's roller-derby – an old US contact sport reinvented as a post-feminist and semi-ironic expression of girl power. ***

Monday

Black God, White Devil

1.30am Film4

(Glauber Rocha, 1964) This lively picaresque written and directed by the then 25-year-old film critic and left-wing radical Glauber Rocha heralded the arrival of Brazil's Cinema Novo movement of the Sixties and Seventies. It is the story of a ranch-hand during the depression of the Forties who kills his boss and embarks on a series of beguiling misadventures combining political allegory with folk tales. Geraldo Del Rey stars. ****

Tuesday

Mad Max

10.30pm Sky Movies Action & Adventure

(George Miller, 1979) George Miller made excellent use of the Australian landscape in this rough-around- the-edges exploitation action flick, which also made a star of the then-unknown Mel Gibson. He plays a cop who patrols the highways of a post-apocalyptic future in a supercharged Ford Falcon GT, and grimly chases down the marauding biker gang who kill his partner and family. ****

Wednesday

Heat

11.05pm Film4

(Michael Mann, 1995) To the crime thriller what The Godfather is to the gangster drama, this is genre entertainment on an operatically grand scale. And to underline the point, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino share screen time together for the first time since the Godfather Part II, playing a pair of ultra-masculine, ruthless obsessives who have grudging respect for one another, despite living on either side of the law. *****

Thursday

LA Confidential

10pm ITV4

(Curtis Hanson, 1997) A stylish and poised adaptation of one of James Ellroy's crime novels, this stars Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey and Guy Pearce as three policemen with very different modus operandi, all working the same murder case while dealing with corruption amid the LAPD of the Fifties. Rarely have the city's glamour and seedy side been examined so thoroughly in the same film. ****

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