Films of the week: Cruel fate and cool style drive a Coen brothers classic

 

Thursday

No Country for Old Men

9pm Film4

(Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007) A good guy (Josh Brolin), who came across some dead bad guys' money in the desert and took it, is trailed across 1980s Texas by a chilling and implacable killer (Javier Bardem) and the world-weary county sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel, this great thriller is an unhurried but extremely tense chase movie; meditative, but heavy with fatalism. *****

Saturday

On the Waterfront

3pm TCM

(Elia Kazan, 1954) Marlon Brando changed movie acting forever with his electrifying and weirdly tender performance as Terry Malloy, a former prizefighter in New York who coulda been a contender but became instead a low-level member of the Mob-affiliated dockers' union, before falling in love and deciding to take a stand against corruption. The winner of eight Oscars, On the Waterfront is an American film classic. *****

Sunday

Night of the Demon

1.30am Film4

(Jacques Tourneur, 1957) Adapted by Alfred Hitchcock's regular collaborator Charles Bennett from the MR James story "Casting the Runes", this is a wonderfully atmospheric chiller, full of long shadows, creeping mists and foreboding. Dana Andrews stars as a sceptical, rationalist US psychologist who investigates a cult in modern-day Britain that he suspects of murder, but which the audience suspects of far worse. ****

Monday

Bull Durham

10.50pm & 2.25am TCM

(Ron Shelton, 1988) Kevin Costner stars as a cynical veteran minor-league baseball player brought in by the North Carolina team Durham Bulls to coach its rookie pitcher (Tim Robbins). Meanwhile, Robbins's character has also been selected for a different kind of instruction, by baseball groupie Susan Sarandon. As a result, you can expect some of the juiciest dialogue ever heard in a romantic comedy. ****

Tuesday

Barefoot in the Park

4.55pm Film4

(Gene Saks, 1967) Young newlyweds Robert Redford and Jane Fonda move into a cramped fifth-floor Manhattan apartment and immediately begin to doubt whether they're really right for each other, all the while sparring with some of Neil Simon's most sparkling dialogue. Filmically, it may only be a pedestrian adaptation of his Broadway play, but the leads' chemistry and charisma go a long way. ****

Wednesday

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

12.05am FIlm4

(Werner Herzog, 2010) The primary value of this documentary is that it offers the only chance you're going to get to view the 30,000-year-old Chauvet cave paintings – mankind's oldest cultural artefacts – in their crystal-bedecked surroundings. Werner Herzong's sardonic-transcendentalist voiceover, and musings about albino crocodiles and the dream-lives of our palaeolithic ancestors, are a bonus. ****

Friday

Zero Dark Thirty

8pm & 12.15am Sky Movies Premiere

(Kathryn Bigelow, 2012) Zero Dark Thirty is a gripping procedural thriller detailing the decade-long CIA investigation which led to the military strike on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan in 2011. Does it glamorise military action? Well, yes. It's a movie, and it stars Jessica Chastain. But it is largely a sober drama about professionalism, pragmatism, bureaucracy, and how things got done. ****

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