Films of the Week: Chilling level of sophistication in Swedish horror

 

Wednesday

Let the Right One In

1.20am Film4

(Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

The best horror film on television this Halloween is an ambiguous, perversely tender love story about a pair of neglected 12-year-olds – one of whom is a vampire – in a drab, snow-covered small town in early Eighties Sweden. It's filmed with a rare stillness and restraint, and suffused with an atmosphere of bruised poeticism. It forgoes cheap scares, and its pathos is hard-earned. Lina Leandersson stars. *****

Saturday

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

3.15pm ITV1

(George Lucas, 1977)

The film that used to be called just plain Star Wars is by far the most fun in the franchise. A spectacular space opera, knowingly modelled on kids' Saturday matinee adventure serials, about an orphaned teenager on a remote farm in a galaxy far, far away, who discovers magical powers and uses them to defeat an evil empire. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher star. *****

Sunday

Down Terrace

11.30pm BBC2

(Ben Wheatley, 2009)

In Ben Wheatley's stealthily darkening debut, a dysfunctional mid-league crime family in a shabby town house in Brighton attempts to flush a police informant from its midst. Semi-improvised, and delighting in character quirks, this is genre material but with the tone of vintage Mike Leigh – a clever combination Wheatley used again in Kill List and the upcoming Sightseers. Robin Hill stars. ****

The Hustler

6.30pm TCM

(Robert Rossen, 1961)

Paul Newman stars as "Fast" Eddie Felson, a good-looking and cocky young pool shark who'll need to find out some more about human weaknesses before he takes on Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) – the incumbent king of their seedy little world. Less a sports movie than a film about character and atmosphere, the Hustler has an abundance of both. George C Scott also stars. *****

Thursday

Punch-Drunk Love

9pm Film4

(Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

This oddball romcom is the most whimsical of Paul Thomas Anderson's films so far. But it's also the film that makes the most of Adam Sandler's screen persona, and it has a vivid, almost expressionistic intensity to it. Sandler plays a socially maladroit man, broiling with petty resentments, who is nevertheless lucky enough to find true love with Emily Watson. ***

Friday

Crazy, Stupid, Love

8pm Sky Movies Premiere

(Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, 2011)

Childhood sweethearts Steve Carell and Julianne Moore are going through a painful separation; their 13-year-old son is in love with his babysitter, who is in love with Carell, who begins taking dating advice from Ryan Gosling’s smooth serial seducer, who is smitten by Emma Stone. Which modern-day La Ronde makes for an uncommonly sweet and funny romcom. ***

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