Films of the Week: Leone's epic tale of gunslingers and revenge
Once Upon a Time in the West
7pm Sky Movies Classics
(Sergio Leone, 1969) After the US success of his Italian spaghetti Westerns, Sergio Leone made this one – his masterpiece – for Paramount. He cast Henry Fonda brilliantly against type as a remorseless gunslinger, and Charles Bronson and Jason Robards as the guns for hire who go after him. It is richly cinematic, uniquely styled, epic, elegiac and cruel. Also starring Claudia Cardinale, Frank Wolff and Gabriele Ferzetti. *****
11.05pm Channel 4
(Ridley Scott, 1979) In which John Hurt gets an upset stomach, and not long after, the seven-strong crew of the salvage spaceship Nostromo are picked off by a nasty, insectoid alien. Alien has only a simple plot, then, but the set and creature designs by the Swiss artist HR Giger, the Freudian subtext, and its ruthless, relentless thrust make for one of the all-out scariest horror films ever. Sigourney Weaver also stars. *****
Dr Mabuse: the Gambler
11.30pm Sky Arts 1
(Fritz Lang, 1922) The first of Fritz Lang's three films featuring the evil psychiatrist, arch manipulator, master of disguises and mesmerist Dr Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), who uses his talents to run an empire of gambling dens and climb society, is one of the great epics of silent cinema. It may be overlong (270 minutes!) and hokey, but it's full of entertainment, social criticism and visual invention. ***
The Tree of Life
9.45pm Sky Movies Premiere
(Terrence Malick, 2011) This is the most explicit expression of the transcendentalist aesthetic found in every Terrence Malick film: a hymn to all creation, from the infinitesimal to the infinite, set to choral music and full of cinematic natural beauty. Amid this are fragments of a human story, too, though the film is more interested in macro-level profundity than making conventional sense. ****
(Christopher Nolan, 2006) Nothing is as it seems in this highly enjoyable bit of tricksy period hokum, starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as stage magicians in Victorian London whose rivalry leads them to attempt ever more impressive and dangerous illusions. And the film is impressively staged, too, even if it's merely a chamber piece by comparison to its director's later films, The Dark Knight and Inception. ****
Le Quattro Volte
(Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010) This detached, dialogue-free, wilfully uneventful quasi-documentary set in a Calabrian hillside village is all about natural rhythms and the cycles of life. And its credited cast members include a silver fir, goats and charcoal. Many film critics find it transcendental, though the alternate viewpoint, that it is opaque and dull, is equally valid. Giuseppe Fuda and Bruno Timpano star. ****
8pm Sky Movies Indie
(Anton Corbijn, 2010) George Clooney plays an inscrutable, apparently unfeeling hit-man lying low in a small Italian hillside town. A film in the tradition of existential European thrillers such as The Conformist and Le Samourai, The American doesn't have a lot of plot but it does have an intensified mood; an economy of style and expression, and a studied elegance and classicism. Also starring Violante Placido. ****
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 3 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.