Films of the week: Broody, sullen brilliance in a formidable film


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Taxi Driver

10pm Sky Movies Modern Greats

(Martin Scorsese, 1976) Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an insomniac, solipsistic Vietnam veteran who has a violent psychotic episode in response to the moral degeneracy he perceives while working nights as a New York City cab driver. He's one of American cinema's most complex and iconic anti-heroes, and Scorsese's vivid and expressionistic depiction of his emotional state is one of its true masterpieces. *****

Dead Ringers

12.50am BBC2

(David Cronenberg, 1988) Jeremy Irons is wholly convincing as twin gynaecologists whose inseparable relationship is tested after one falls in love with a patient and the other becomes obsessed with anatomical abnormalities. David Cronenberg's first attempt at dealing with his usual preoccupations without recourse to gore resulted in one of his most coolly terrifying, psychologically complex films. *****


11.15pm Channel 4

(Richard Ayoade, 2010) A wry coming-of-age comedy about a 16-year-old Welsh schoolboy navigating his uncertainty about the future, the state of his parents' marriage and his feelings for his first ever girlfriend, who has eczema and ‚"enjoys bullying in moderation". It's got a deadpan manner, a richly detailed, highly organised visual style and all kinds of literary and cinematic flourishes. Craig Roberts stars. ****

Win Win

10am & 6pm Sky Movies Premiere

(Thomas McCarthy, 2011) The third film by the writer-director of The Station Agent and The Visitor is another modest but keenly observed human comedy about unlikely connections and characters surprising themselves. Paul Giamatti heads the ensemble cast as a financially uncertain suburban New Jersey lawyer and high-school wrestling coach who, almost inadvertently, adopts a teenage runaway. ****

The Ice Storm

1.25am Film4

(Ang Lee, 1997) A poised adaptation of Rick Moody's bleakly comic 1994 novel about swinging in Seventies suburban Connecticut. Joan Allen finds out that her husband (Kevin Kline) has been having an affair with their liberated neighbour (Weaver), after their son (Elijah Wood) gets experimental with her daughter (Christina Ricci). Brilliant performances and period detail throughout. ****

Best in Show

11.45pm ITV2

(Christopher Guest, 2000) In his second funniest deadpan mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap's Christopher Guest and his usual repertory of actors play pedigree dog owners preparing to compete in a dog show. Beautifully faked and even kind of moving, it slowly reveals their wide spectrum of personality quirks and delusions, as well as something of the competitive and exhibitionist streaks in the American character. ****

The Philadelphia Story

3pm TCM

(George Cukor, 1940) One of the most lustrous products of Hollywoods golden age, this unconventional romantic comedy has debonaire Cary Grant and loveable James Stewart competing for the affections of haughty socialite Hepburn, on the eve of her wedding to hapless dope John Howard. Every line is a witticism, and the delivery of them all is timed to perfection. *****