Films of the week: Nosing around in a multi-layered neo-noir thriller

 

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The Independent Culture

Sunday

Chinatown

2pm & 10pm Sky Movies Indie

(Roman Polanski, 1974) Jack Nicholson plays a Forties Los Angeles private eye who gets caught up in a Sophoclean drama involving femme fatale Dunaway, tycoon John Huston and (historically accurate) corruption among the city's planners and water department. A masterpiece of neo-noir cinema, its ending doesn't get any easier to take no matter how many times you see it. *****

Saturday

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

4.15pm & 8pm Sky Movies Premiere

(David Yates, 2011) After 10 years and seven previous films, the long-prophesied eschatological confrontation between Harry Potter and Voldemort finally arrives, and lends some real weight and meaning to all the preceding action. There isn't any quidditch in this film: it's computer-generated spectacle and epic battle sequences all the way. Daniel Radcliffe stars. ****

Monday

Build My Gallows High

12.40pm BBC2

(Jacques Tourneur, 1947) As well as having Robert Mitchum as its lazily menacing antihero, Kirk Douglas as the bad guy and a series of stark but beautifully designed images, this classic noir flashback thriller has the most rhythmic hard-boiled dialogue ever written by someone who wasn't Raymond Chandler: "I don't want to die either, baby, but if I have to I'm going to die last." *****

Tuesday

The Ladykillers

11am Film4

(Alexander Mackendrick, 1955) Ealing Studios' blackest comedy is a thoroughly delectable moral fable with a precision plot. Alec Guinness plays a criminal mastermind whose plans are inadvertently spoiled by his landlady, a terribly sweet and innocent old woman (Johnson) whom he and his gang (including Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom) just don't seem able to bump off. *****

Wednesday

Three Colours: Red

10.05pm Sky Arts 1

(Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994) Krzysztof Kieslowski's masterful final film has an interlocking structure, almost as if in summation of a whole career investigating the vagaries of fate, chance and human action. It centres on a kind of romance of the mind between a young model and a retired judge in Geneva, but also encompasses the lives of all those connected to them. Irene Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant star. *****

Thursday

Boyz N the Hood

1pm & 11.20pm Sky Movies Modern Greats

(John Singleton, 1991) This measured but potent autobiographical drama by the 23-year-old writer-director John Singleton, about life for young black men in South Central LA, was one of the key films of the Nineties. Cuba Gooding Jr stars as a high-school student whose loyalties are divided between his disciplinarian father (Laurence Fishburne) and his crack-dealing friend (Ice Cube). ****

Friday

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

1.10am Film4

(Michel Gondry, 2004) The most original of US screenwriters, Charlie Kaufman, found his ideal match in the distinctive French director Michel Gondry, and the result was a surreal, colourful and touching ontological love story, largely set inside the mind of Jim Carrey while he's in the process of having the memories of his affair with Winslet erased. ****

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