Films of the week: New-found affinity goes the distance



Las Acacias

11.25pm Film4

(Pablo Giorgelli, 2011) In this small but beautifully formed Argentine film, a laconic truck driver gives a woman and her baby a ride from Paraguay to Buenos Ares. There's hardly any back story – indeed, hardly any story at all. Just two people becoming comfortable in one another's company, in real- time, and the gradual thawing of a lonely man's heart. The ending is unexpectedly lovely. German de Silva and Hebe Duarte star. ****

Killer of Sheep

8pm Sky Arts 2

(Charles Burnett, 1977) Charles Burnett's no-budget film-school project was hardly seen for 30 years because he didn't bother with the necessary permissions for its excellent jazz soundtrack – but still earned a reputation as one of the first authentic depictions on film of US black urban life. It's a rich and humane neo-realist drama about a breadline abattoir worker in south-central LA. Henry G Sanders stars. *****


9.10pm & 3.30am Sky Movies Classics

(Sidney Lumet, 1973) Sporting an impressive array of facial hair, Al Pacino plays Frank Serpico, a (real life) New York City cop from 1960 to 1972 who alarmed his colleagues by being in tune with the counter-culture, and refusing to accept the culture of bribery and corruption endemic to his department. More of a character study than a thriller, Serpico is still gripping. *****

Bill Cunningham New York

8pm& 12.30AM Sky Arts 1

(Richard Press, 2010) A documentary about the octogenarian photographer Bill Cunningham, who has documented several decades' worth of changing street fashion in his work for the New York Times, and maintained his admirable integrity and good humour throughout. A film about the pleasures and consolations of hard work and frugal living, it nevertheless hints at something that may remain unfulfilled. ****


12.05am BBC1

(Steve Jacobs, 2008) His wayward South African accent notwithstanding, John Malkovich is excellent as the protagonist of JM Coetzee's 1999 Booker winner – a self-deceiving, faintly ridiculous professor made to confront some unpalatable truths about himself and his country while staying on his daughter's farm. The film retains the novel's disquieting power, and is missing only Coetzee's ironic narrative voice. ****

True Grit

2.25pm & 8pm Sky Movies Indie

(Joel & Ethan Coen, 2010) This remake of the 1969 John Wayne Western is one of the Coen brothers' most classically crafted, strongly felt and least ironic films, full of old-fashioned pleasures such as colourful characters, comic turns and the restoration of order. Jeff Bridges stars as the ornery, boozy, one- eyed marshall Rooster Cogburn, and makes the role his own. *****


9.55am Sky Arts 2

(FW Murnau, 1922) FW Murnau's haunting, poetic, expressionistic – and unauthorised – adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula was the first vampire movie, and continues to cast its shadow over the genre. Max Schreck's skeletal Count Orlock is a malevolent and deliciously creepy screen presence, less like a man than a pained animal – or the very personification of malaise and decay. *****

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