Films of the week: Daniel Craig's man of action is best on the move in Skyfall

 

Monday

Skyfall

2pm & 8pm Sky Movies Premiere

(Sam Mendes, 2012) Daniel Craig's 007 is a decisive and commanding action man, and for as long as it finds things for him to do, Skyfall is exquisitely thrilling; exactly the kind of stylish, exotic, aspirational and faintly ludicrous spy thriller we expect of the series. Unfortunately, he is somewhat hobbled in the second half by the film's self-referential and introspective self-consciousness. ****

Sunday

The Remains of the Day

3.30pm Film4

(James Ivory, 1993) Merchant-Ivory's adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel is supremely controlled, and Anthony Hopkins gives perhaps his most restrained performance as the lifelong butler to James Fox, a pro-German member of the landed gentry in late-Thirties England. Emma Thompson plays the housekeeper who'd like to melt the butler's barriers of professional reserve. ****

Sunday

Dr Strangelove – or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

11am Film4

(Stanley Kubrick, 1963) Deciding that the doctrine of mutual assured destruction was an absurd basis for peace on Earth, Kubrick called in Terry Southern to rewrite the serious Cold War drama he was drafting, cast Peter Sellers n three of his most memorable roles, and created one of cinema's most perfect black comedies. *****

Tuesday

Written on the Wind

1.10pm Film4

(Douglas Sirk, 1956) Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall play satellites of the fabulously wealthy and dysfunctional Texan oil family the Hadleys; Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone (both Oscar nominated) play the alcoholic Kyle Hadley and nymphomaniac Marylee Hadley. The foursome's various overwrought affairs make for one of Douglas Sirk's most vivid and lurid melodramas‚ and most savagely ironic. ****

Wednesday

Life Is Sweet

12.55am Film4

(Mike Leigh, 1990) Alison Steadman, Jim Broadbent, Jane Horrocks and Claire Skinner star as members of a normal North London suburban family – which is to say, a family with its own very specific dynamics, dreams and problems, gradually revealed and examined in one of Mike Leigh's most humane bittersweet domestic comedies. Timothy Spall almost steals it as a by-turns hilarious and pathetic family friend. *****

Thursday

A Prophet

1am Film4

(Jacques Audiard, 2009) This extraordinary crime film charts a French-Arab inmate's progression, over the course of a six-year prison sentence, from terrified 19-year-old to fully fledged gangster. It's set apart from other such dramas by its anthropological attention to the texture, detail and racial demarcations of prison culture, as well as by its sweaty-palmed intensity. Tahar Rahim stars. *****

Friday

Flags of Our Fathers

9pm More 4

(Clint Eastwood, 2006) Clint Eastwood's films are concerned with deconstructing archetypes of masculinity and heroism. In this one, he goes behind the scenes of Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph of US soldiers raising their flag on Mount Suribachi after the battle for Iwo Jima in 1945, and finds that there are good, heroic men in war, but no glorious acts. Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach star. ****

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