Films of the Week (09/06/2012): Ruthless Brando makes an offer you can't refuse
The Godfather *****
Tuesday 9pm Film4
(Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) The American screen acting legend Marlon Brando passes the baton on to Al Pacino in Francis Ford Coppola's impeccably staged chronicle of a Mafia dynasty: an insightful and richly detailed rumination on family, power, corruption, the immigrant experience and the American dream. Probably the greatest of all gangster films, although The Godfather II ranks alongside it.
The Magnificent Seven ****
(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.
Somers Town ****
(Shane Meadows, 2008) Filming outside of his native Nottingham for the first time, Shane Meadows made this short, small-scale, good-natured tale about camaraderie and community (part funded by Eurostar and initially conceived as a corporate promo). This Is England's Thomas Turgoose stars as an endearingly scrappy youngster larking about with a Polish teenager (Piotr Jagiello) in London town.
Looking for Eric ****
(Ken Loach, 2009) Eric (Steve Evets) is a middle-aged Mancunian postman in the midst of a depressive breakdown, and not until he makes an imaginary friend in Eric Cantona is he inspired to reconnect to a life from which he'd come adrift. Cantona's gnomic philosophising and movie-star charisma are comically incongruous in the context of a Ken Loach film, but the combination of social-realism and fantasy is a winning one.
11.35am & 12.50am Sky Movies Classics
(Peter Bogdanovich, 1968) Like many great film-makers, Peter Bogdanovich was given his big break by the producer Roger Corman – in this case on the proviso that he use Boris Karloff, who owed Corman two days' work. So Karloff plays a hammy old horror star, tangentially connected to a character based on the Texan spree killer Charles Whitman, in a chilling but witty discourse on American life and the movies.
The Age of Innocence ****
4.05pm Sky Movies Drama & Romance
(Martin Scorsese, 1993) It seemed out of character at the time, but Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's ironically titled 1920 novel is astute and graceful. Daniel Day-Lewis stars as a lawyer in 1870s New York high society, whose marriage to pleasant and well-connected young Winona Ryder is threatened by his love for her cousin, an unconventional countess with European ways, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
The Killers *****
11pm Sky Movies Classics
(Robert Siodmak, 1946) Expanded from an Ernest Hemingway short story about a small-town man calmly awaiting the fate that a pair of contract killers are about to deliver, this brilliant film noir retains the biting, hard-boiled dialogue and then adds more of its own, fleshing out a backstory all about love and betrayal. It made stars of the two unknown leads, Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.
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