Films of the week: Paranormal life is backdrop for grave anxieties

 

Saturday

Don't Look Now

11pm Film4

(Nicolas Roeg, 1973) With its associative editing, temporal dislocations and ominous atmosphere, Nicolas Roeg's masterful Du Maurier adaptation gets under the skin in a way few other films can, and is all the more haunting for the fact that its supernatural element is secondary to its investigations of love and loss. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star as a grieving couple staying in off-season Venice. *****

Watchmen

10.05pm Channel 4

(Zack Snyder, 2009) After 20 years in development hell, and unsuccessful attempts by Terry Gilliam and Darren Aronofsky, a version of Alan Moore's self-reflexive, ironic and playfully philosophical comic was finally put on screen by the director of 300. It is unwieldy, imperfect and a little humourless, but ambitious, clever, spectacular and likely still the best superhero movie ever made. ****

Hidden

11pm Film4

(Michael Haneke, 2005) In the first part of a Michael Haneke double-bill, Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche play a bourgeois Parisian couple who are sent videotapes of their lives by a stalker who may or may not be a figure from Aueteil's past. It is a characteristically enigmatic and austere psychological thriller; allusive, compelling, fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. ****

Hollywoodland

11.40pm BBC1

(Allen Coulter, 2006) Ben Affleck is well cast and very good as George Reeves, the actor who played Superman on television in the Fifties. But the version of Reeves he presents is a sad character; a kept man who thinks he's capable of much more – though we're not so sure. His story is told in flashback, while private eye Adrien Brody investigates his suspicious death from a gunshot wound. ***

Chinatown

9pm Film4

(Roman Polanski, 1974) Jack Nicholson plays a Forties Los Angeles private eye who gets caught up in a Sophoclean drama involving femme fatale Faye 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. *****

The Departed

9pm Film4

(Martin Scorsese, 2006) The film for which Martin Scorsese finally bagged a Best Director Oscar is only a remake of a slick Hong Kong action movie, and not his best work. Still, while the plot isn't strictly plausible (Leonardo DiCaprio's undercover cop infiltrates the mob while Matt Damon's crook infiltrates the police), the film is very persuasive, and Jack Nicholson is good value as a crime boss. ****

Singin' in the Rain

10.55am More4

(Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen, 1952) Gene Kelly stars in this graceful and clever insider comedy about Hollywood's awkward adjustment to the arrival of the talkies, as a Twenties matinee idol who falls for his co-star's vocal stand-in (Debbie Reynolds). It's the Technicolor MGM musical in which the song-and-dance routines are most ingeniously integrated into the narrative. And what sublime routines they are! *****

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