Films of the week: Wild frontiers for the man with no limits in Django Unchained
Friday 04 October 2013
10pm Sky Movies Premiere
(Quentin Tarantino, 2012) Quentin Tarantino's blaxploitation Western is about a slave (Jamie Foxx) who turns avenging hero after teaming up with a loquacious bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz). It is funny, violent, shocking and disreputable – but Tarantino uses the exploitation genre not just because it's fun and he's good at it, but because it lets him go where other film-makers would tread too carefully. *****
The Magnificent Seven
1.30pm Channel 5
(John Sturges, 1960) Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece The Seven Samurai is remade as a traditional Western, with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn among the disparate band of gunslingers hired by Mexican peasants to protect their village from raids by Eli Wallach and his marauding banditos. Elmer Bernstein's famous score adds to the film's iconic appeal. ****
(Mike Nichols, 1967) Dustin Hoffman was 29 when he gave his performance as the nebbish recent graduate Benjamin; Anne Bancroft as his girlfriend's seductive mother, Mrs Robinson, was only six years older, but this iconic comedy perfectly describes the widening of the generation gap that was a characteristic of late-Sixties America. It is showing its age, but is as smart as it ever was. *****
Days of Heaven
10pm Sky Movies Select
(Terrence Malick, 1978) Filmed entirely during the so-called "magic hour" between sunset and nightfall, Terrence Malick's luminous fable about the human animal is so beautiful as to have an almost hallucinatory quality. A young Richard Gere stars as a drifter though the America of the 1910s who finds a temporary eden with his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) on a Texan wheat farm. *****
(Miguel Gomes, 2012) Taking its title from a 1931 FW Murnau romance and part-filmed on silent 16mm black-and-white stock, this whimsical but bittersweet curio is about memory and the movies, in roughly equal measures. Set in present-day Lisbon and colonial Africa, it describes how a person can go to their grave still thinking about a brief love affair from their youth. Ana Moreira and Teresa Madruga star. ****
(Roman Polanski, 2010) Roman Polanski's adaptation of the Robert Harris novel is entertaining on two levels: as a well-controlled and typically Hitchcockian conspiracy thriller, and as a dryly witty and pointed political satire. Ewan McGregor stars as a ghostwriter hired to liven up the memoirs of a vain, prickly and Blair-like former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan). ****
(Philippe Falardeau, 2011) In the progressive primary school in Montreal where he talks his way into a job, Monsieur Lazhar's old- fashioned methods and values seem both unconventional and inspirational. He's also harboured a painful secret since emigrating from Algeria, that makes him sensitive to his pupils' own troubles. This touching comedy-drama is beautifully acted. Mohamed Fellag stars. ****
Books And it is whizzpopping!
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