Films of the Week: Boulting brothers' cruel confection is of the toughest variety

 

Saturday

Brighton Rock

1.10pm More4

(John Boulting, 1947) The Boulting brothers' brilliant, cruel, noir-ish Graham Greene adaptation makes fine use of its locations: it takes place, not only in a jolly pre-war seaside town but in another Brighton of dark alleyways and festering slums; and most of all, inside the oppressively godless and paranoid psyche of its young hoodlum antihero, Pinky (Richard Attenborough).*****

Sunday

Seconds

12.40pm & 9.10pm Sky Movies Classics

(John Frankenheimer, 1966) A secret organisation offers the wealthy a chance to begin life again, by surgically altering them to look like other people whom it's recently bumped off. Thus, a middle-aged banker gets to look like Rock Hudson and slip into his life as a bohemian artist. What could go wrong? Another terrific paranoid thriller from the director of The Manchurian Candidate.****

Monday

Bully

11.35pm Film4

(Larry Clark, 2001) This is the best of the studies in US teen anomie and violence that the photographer-turned-director Larry Clark has made the story since the controversial Kids in 1995. Based on a real case, it tells of a group of affectless teens who plot to kill the local bully. A film with no moral centre at all, it is disconcerting and depressing and very powerful. Bijou Phillips stars.****

Tuesday

Couscous

1am Film4

(Abdellatif Kechiche, 2007) Set in the port city of Sète in the south of France, this is a feast of a film about family, work, love and food, centred on the newly unemployed 61-year-old patriarch of an extended French-Ararbic family and his plans to open a couscous restaurant. Leisurely paced, very real and very funny, it is a masterpiece of unforced naturalism. Starring Habib Boufares. ****

Wednesday

Went the Day Well?

5pm Film4

(Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942) Brambly End is an ordinary, pretty, sleepy English village, until a fifth columnist invites a troupe of Nazis to stay and the villagers must take extreme measures to repel them. Ealing Studio's 1942 Graham Greene adaptation is a bracing if not downright subversive propaganda film, an endearing time capsule, and a still highly effective action thriller. Leslie Banks and Basil Sydney star. ****

Thursday

X-Men: First Class

10am & 8pm Sky Movies Premiere

(Matthew Vaughan, 2011) A prequel about how and why, before they were arch nemeses, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), under the auspices of the CIA in the Sixties, recruited the young mutants who became the first X-Men. The stars are charismatic, the action scenes coherent and plentiful, and the period setting allows for a retro look inspired by the heyday James Bond films.***

Friday

The Host

1.35am Film4

(Bong Joon-ho, 2006) The same writer-director who reworked the Forties and Fifties melodrama weepie in the brilliant Mother had previously reworked the atomic-era monster movie, to similarly terrific effect. So this is far wittier and smarter stuff than you'd usually expect of a giant-sea-slug-thingy-attacks-downtown-Seoul movie. And it's got real human interest, as well as satirical bite. Kang-ho Song stars. ****

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