Films of the Week: Extramural activity of a street artist

 

Exit Through the Gift Shop

12.15am Channel 4

(Banksy, 2010) Part documentary profile of one of his associates in the street-art movement, part satire of the mainstream art world, Banksy's first film is smart, funny, self-aggrandising and self-effacing in equal amounts. As a measure of its slipperiness, the extent to which its ostensible subject – a now successful artist known as Mr Brainwash – is himself a Banksy creation, is still being debated. ****

Napoleon Dynamite

3.05pm & 10pm Sky Movies Indie

(Jared Hess, 2004) An ultra-nerdy and diffident teenager (Jon Heder) with an unhappy life in rural Idaho comes out of his shell after he makes friends with Pedro, the moustachioed new boy at school, and talks to a girl. Made with an unknown cast by a first-time writer-director, this bittersweet film was one of the most distinctive comedies of recent times, and full of quotable oddball dialogue. ****

Sideways

12noon & 6pm Sky Movies Indie

(Alexander Payne, 2004) Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is a former soap actor and fading lothario. The best man at his upcoming wedding will be Miles (Giamatti), a depressive unpublished novelist. Set over the course of a week-long wine-tasting break in California, this full-bodied and literate comedy fleshes out these mismatched, flawed but forgivable characters with real psychological acuity. ****

Private Fears in Public Places

11.05pm Film4

(Alain Resnais, 2006) Alain Resnais's third transposition of an old Alan Ayckbourn play to contemporary Paris is a neatly composed film about the messiness of human affairs. Six lonely characters come apart or attempt to make a connection. Wryly downbeat, unpredictable and satisfyingly true, its main message is that it's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. André Dussollier and Sabine Azéma star. ****

Night Falls on Manhattan

11.20pm TCM

(Sidney Lumet, 1997) Another complicated moral maze of a film, in the same vein as the director's earlier works Serpico and Prince of the City, about a man making a stand against corruption in the New York Police Department and City Hall. This time, that man is assistant DA Andy Garcia, who is prosecuting the suspects in a drugs case worked by his father (Ian Holm) and his father's partner (James Gandolfini). ****

The Grapes of Wrath

6.35pm TCM

(John Ford, 1940) Seeming ever more relevant, John Ford's masterful screen version of the John Steinbeck novel is one of the great films from Hollywood's classic era – a leftist issues drama about the conversion of ex-con Tom Joad (Henry Fondal) to the labour movement. But even more than that, it's a very vivid, sympathetic, panoramic portrayal of life in the Dustbowl. *****

Rocky

10pm ITV4

(John G Avildsen, 1976) Sylvester Stallone's Oscar-nominated script about a lowly palooka given a shot at the world title was reportedly written in three days, but created a movie and cultural icon. The plot is a cliché, but as a scruffily low-key character study and love story, it is absolutely charming. And while the climactic boxing match is unconvincing, the training montages are triumphant. *****

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