Films of the week: Transported by a master animator's spell in Spirited Away
Friday 23 August 2013
(Hayao Miyazaki, 2002) This delightful, Alice in Wonderland-ish tale is one of the very best by the master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. It has a luscious visual style and a dream logic all of its own – in which a plucky 10-year-old girl is separated from her parents, who are turned into pigs, and winds up working in a bathhouse frequented by spirits and gods. With the voices of Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette and Jason Marsden. *****
(Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970) In this violent, allegorical and surrealist counterpart to the Clint Eastwood "Man with No Name" films, the director Alejandro Jodorowsky plays El Topo ("the Mole"), a laconic quick-draw gunslinger who has some sort of spiritual rebirth in the Mexican desert. Narrative coherence is of secondary concern, after extraordinary tableaux, visual extravagance and the theatre of the absurd. ****
Stand By Me
3.55pm Channel 5
(Rob Reiner, 1986) Adapted from a Stephen King novella, Stand by Me has a middle-aged writer (Richard Dreyfuss) who reminisces about one summer day in the late Fifties, when he and his buddies journeyed into the woods to look for a dead body and came out a little bit closer, older and wiser. It's got nostalgia built in, but is a psychologically astute rites-of-passage drama, played to perfection by the young actors. ****
(Ben Wheatley, 2009) In Ben Wheatley's funny but stealthily darkening debut, a dysfunctional mid-league crime family in a shabby townhouse in Brighton tries to flush a police informant from its midst. Semi-improvised, low-key and delighting in character quirks, this is genre material but with the tone of vintage Mike Leigh – a clever combination Wheatley used again in Kill List and Sightseers. Robin Hill stars. ****
Leaving Las Vegas
(Mike Figgis, 1995) Nicolas Cage was awarded an Oscar for his powerful, studied performance as a late-stage alcoholic who burns his bridges in LA and chooses Las Vegas as a suitable place in which to drink himself to death. Elisabeth Shue is equally good as the prostitute who loves and enables him, and this film really belongs to her character. A bleak but tender movie about lost souls. ****
(Stephen Gaghan, 2005) The muddled and multi-stranded complexity of this political thriller's plot is part of the point of it – an indictment of the oil industry's insidious, wide-reaching influence and tendency to corrupt. George Clooney plays a grizzled CIA operative involved in a plot to assassinate an Iranian emirate; Matt Damon plays an energy analyst who advises the latter. ****
9.45am & 9pm Sky Movies Premiere
(Joe Wright, 2012) Joe Wright's Tolstoy adaptation is as self-consciously cinematic as it is highly theatrical – and it was written by Tom Stoppard, who set most of the action beneath a proscenium arch. Keira Knightley is vivacious and histrionic in all of the right places. Unfortunately, Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Vronsky is foppish and uncharismatic, so you doubt Anna's wisdom and sanity long before you're supposed to. ***
Game of Thrones
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- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
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