Films of the week: Insight into the ups and downs of sitting pretty


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The Independent Culture


Storyville: Queen of Versailles

10pm BBC4

(Lauren Greenfield, 2012) This documentary profile of a seventy-something self-made billionaire and his likeable trophy wife depicts the American dream at its most surreal. It exposes the delusions that allow them to live with such obscene wealth. And then, after the stock market crashes, it details their awkward encounters with reality. Alternately ironic and intimate, it is very perceptive, very funny and unexpectedly touching. ****

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!

4pm & 8pm Sky Movies Premiere

(Peter Lord, 2012) There's treasure buried in every frame of Aardman Animation's fifth feature-length animation, which is about the misadventures of an amateurish band of pirates, along with the young Charles Darwin, on the high seas and in Victorian London. As well as that very specific sense of humour which characterises Aardman's best output, it has a gleefully ahistorical irreverence. ****

Apocalypse Now

9pm ITV4

(Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) The result of an arduous three-year shoot, Francis Ford Coppola's hallucinatory Vietnam war film is an epic in every respect, save that it retains the simple plot of its source novella: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Helicopters and Wagner; napalm and the Doors; Marlon Brando and TS Eliot: these are some of cinema's most indelible combinations of light and sound. Martin Sheen stars. *****

Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy

12noon & 8pm Sky Movies Modern Greats

(Adam McKay, 2004) The pompous buffoon Ron Burgundy, Seventies San Diego's favourite local newsreader, is the character best fitted to the talents of the comedian Will Ferrell, and this is the most consistently hilarious of his semi-improvised comedies. Christina Applegate, as the female news anchor who turns Burgundy's world upside down, is a perfect foil for his absurdist bluster. *****


1.20am Film4

(Giorgos Lanthimos, 2009) A mother, father and their three late-teenage children live in a detached house from which only the father ever ventures. But with the arrival of a visitor, the edifices of their hermetic universe begin to crumble. This controlled film is a tragicomic, increasingly darkening fable offering a cruel parody of family life. Something like a sitcom made by Michael Haneke. Aggeliki Papoulia and Mary Tsoni star. *****

The Magnificent Seven

9pm ITV4

(John Sturges, 1960) Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece The Seven Samurai is remade as a traditional Western, with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn among the disparate band of gunslingers hired by Mexican peasants to protect their village from raids by Eli Wallach and his marauding banditos. Elmer Bernstein's famous score adds to the film's iconic appeal. ****

Risky Business

10pm Sky Movies Modern Greats

(Paul Brickman, 1983) The film that launched Tom Cruise's career is one of the smarter and more idiosyncratic teen films of the Eighties; a mixture of brash comedy and stark, anti-capitalist satire, in which he plays a privileged but callow 17-year-old coming of age while his parents are out of town, having hastily entered a business arrangement with a prostitute (Rebecca De Mornay). ****