Films of the week: Learning curve in a lock-up for would-be gangster

 

Saturday

A Prophet

11.45pm Channel 4

(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 and Niels Arestrup star. *****

Sunday

The Birds

9pm ITV3

(Alfred Hitchcock, 1963) Icy blonde socialite Tippi Hedren pursues a man (Rod Taylor) to a California coastal town where birds gather ominously and then, for no known reason, begin to attack the human inhabitants. A witty chiller staged with unparalleled clarity of purpose, Hitchcock's third Du Maurier adaptation is a study in nature's implacability and the unknowability of evil. *****

Monday

Jackie Brown

11.10pm Film4

(Quentin Tarantino, 1997) Paying tribute to the blaxploitation genre, Quentin Tarantino cast Foxy Brown's Pam Grier in this Elmore Leonard adaptation, as a sassy airline stewardess who smuggles drugs on the side. She was a revelation in the role, and Samuel L Jackson, Robert De Niro and Robert Forster make up the rest of a quality cast in what remains Tarantino's most classy and controlled film. ****

Tuesday

My Darling Clementine

9.50am & 1am Sky Movies Classics

(John Ford, 1946) Having known the real Wyatt Earp, John Ford was able to make bold claims about the authenticity of this re-staging of the gunfight at the OK Corral. But it's Ford's skill as a storyteller that makes the film so rich and alive, and it's the detail of the characters' lives and relationships, rather than the climactic shootout, that make it so memorable. Cathy Downs and Henry Fonda star. *****

Wednesday

Three Colours: Blue

10pm Sky Arts 1

(Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993) Juliette Binoche gives a compelling performance – brittle on the outside, tender and raw inside – in this lushly textured, music-focused and emotionally rich drama about a woman whose husband – a famous composer – and child are killed in a car crash. She abandons the trappings of her comfortable life and attempts to remove herself from human contact. Life, however, muscles in. *****

Thursday

Casablanca

3.05pm Film4

(Michael Curtiz, 1942) Of all the gin joints, Ingrid Bergman's (above, with Humphrey Bogart) glamorous resistance fighter walks into the one in Casablanca owned by her non- partisan and bitter ex. Bogart (who's previously only played gangsters and the PI Sam Spade) made for a terrifically cynical romantic lead; the supporting cast is superb and the dialogue has several of the best-known lines in all movie history. *****

Friday

The Deer Hunter

2.20am ITV1

(Michael Cimino, 1978) Michael Cimino's film about the lives of a group of Pennsylvanian steel workers before, during and after their tour of duty in Vietnam, is a rare and bold bit of film-making made up of stunning set-pieces and violent but controlled shifts in tone. Robert De Niro was the only established star among a cast (Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep) who later proved to be greats. *****

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