Films of the week: Edward Albee's study of love and war cuts close to the bone
Friday 16 August 2013
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
3.55pm Sky Movies Select
(Mike Nichols, 1966) James Mason and Bette Davis may have been the original choices, but the casting of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor added an extra frisson to this screen version of Edward Albee's then-controversial, still compulsively revealing play about a warring couple on a New England college campus. Shot in close-up and unforgiving black-and-white by Haskell Wexler. ****
2 Days in Paris
(Julie Delpy, 2007) A walking-and-talking movie in which a flirty French photographer (Julie Delpy) and a neurotic American (Adam Goldberg) bicker towards a better understanding of their feelings for one another. Dirty, funny, clear-eyed and a little anarchic, Delpy's directorial debut has its own voice, but also resembles the kind of romantic comedy Woody Allen made in his prime. ****
Paths of Glory
(Stanley Kubrick, 1957) Although filmed with his customary precision-tooled detachment, Stanley Kubrick's First World War drama is bitterly angry – and remains powerfully resonant and relevant today. It eloquently describes the futility and horror of trench warfare, then has Kirk Douglas as a colonel defending his heroic troops in a court martial against generals who'd have them executed for cowardice. *****
9.05pm Sky Arts 2
(Wim Wenders, 2011) Wim Wenders' sensuous and expressive film, about the work of the late German choreographer Pina Bausch, gives a level of permanence to performances that would otherwise be ephemeral. It also continues a project of democratisation that Bausch had begun by employing dancers of all ages and non-standard shapes, and takes her work out of the theatre and into varied outdoor spaces. ****
The Lavender Hill Mob
1.35pm Channel 4
(Charles Crichton, 1951) Ealing studio's terrifically entertaining and ever so mildly subversive 1951 crime caper stars Alec Guinness as an outwardly timid and deferential bank clerk who has long nurtured a secret plan to steal £1m in gold bullion from his employers; the Oscar-winning script by TEB Clarke is similarly meticulous and cunning. Stanley Holloway and Sid James co-star. ****
(Amy Heckerling, 1995) As with her first film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in the Eighties, Amy Heckerling's Clueless was a hugely influential teen film in the Nineties. Transposing Jane Austen's Emma to an LA high school, it helped popularise a whole new lexicon – Valley speak – and features a winning performance by Alicia Silverstone as the air-headed but likeable matchmaker Cher. ****
12.35pm & 8pm Sky Movies Premiere
(Christopher McQuarrie, 2012) Jack Reacher – an itinerant righter of wrongs who lends the DA (Rosamund Pike) a hand investigating a spree killing in Pittsburgh – is such an all-round super-cool badass that this adaptation of a Lee Child novel has the air of a vanity project for its producer and star Tom Cruise . But it's also a highly enjoyable pulp thriller; knowing but not parodic. ****
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