Films of the Week: Day-Lewis drills deep to arrive at core of US spirit in There Will Be Blood

 

Thursday

There Will Be Blood

11.20pm BBC2

(Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) Three-times Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis (below) stars as a late- 19th-century oil prospector, with the outwardly charming manner of a snake-oil salesman and an indomitable will to power raging underneath; the kind of man who laid the foundations of the US nation and of the modern age. It's a towering performance, and this film about him is accordingly awesome, bold and intense. *****

Saturday

The Last Exorcism

10.55pm Film4

(Daniel Stamm, 2010) Demonic possession and the faux-documentary are familiar tropes in modern horror cinema, and it would take a clever script to reinvigorate them. The Last Exorcism has one, about a slick Southern Baptist preacher and exorcist who has had a crisis of conscience, and decided to allow a documentary crew to follow him and reveal the tricks of his trade. Ashley Bell stars. ****

Sunday

Limitless

9pm Channel 4

(Neil Burger, 2011) Putting to good use the fallacy that humans use only a small percentage of their brain power, this flashy techno-thriller gives protagonist Bradley Cooper (above) a designer drug that lets him tap into the rest of his. Effectively, it's a superhero movie in which the hero's new power is intelligence. Sample dialogue: "I read Brian Greene's Elegant Universe in three days – and I understood it!" ***

Monday

Win Win

12.05pm & 8pm Sky Movies Indie

(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 wrestling coach who, almost inadvertently, adopts a sullen teenage runaway. ****

Tuesday

Se7en

9pm Sky Movies Modern Greats

(David Fincher, 1995) In an unnamed city where it's always night and it never stops raining, two detectives (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) follow the trail of a fiendish serial killer who arranges his victims' corpses in tableaux to illustrate the seven deadly sins. Its plot isn't especially distinctive, then, but this influential thriller is so relentlessly stygian that it becomes a masterpiece of mood; a symphony of gloom. ****

Wednesday

The Men

7.15pm Sky Movies Classics

(Fred Zinnemann, 1950) The handsome and intense young stage actor Marlon Brando reportedly spent a month in bed in a veterans hospital in preparation for his first film role, as a Second World War veteran coming to terms with life as a civilian and a paraplegic. The results were so good they changed screen acting forever, but this is a strong drama worth seeing for more than just its place in film history. ****

Friday

The Baader Meinhof Complex

12.25am BBC2

(Uli Edel, 2008) Condensing into 150 minutes 10 years' worth of West Germany's most politically turbulent times, from the formation of the Red Army Faction amid the fervour of the anti-Vietnam student protest movement until the suicides of its founding members in their prison cells in 1977, this is a visceral film, full of idealism, violence and radical chic. Martina Gedeck and Stipe Erceg star. ****

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