Films of the week

July 14 - July 20, 2012

Saturday

Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One

9pm BBC4

(Jean-François Richet, 2008) If anything, this second instalment of the two-part biopic of France's most notorious criminal is an even more riotous and cheerfully amoral crime flick than the first, which was shown last weekend. Vincent Cassel bulks up to play the title character in his middle-age in the 1970s, but remains an intensely charismatic and unpredictable livewire.***

Sunday

The Shining

11.05pm TCM

(Stanley Kubrick, 1980) A blocked writer holes up in a remote hotel for the winter with his family, only to find that all work and no play makes Jack an axe-wielding maniac. Jack Nicholson's wild-eyed and iconic performance constantly threatens to overpower the film, but doesn't quite, and no other horror film has the same grandeur, meticulous attention to detail or claim to cinematic high art.*****

Monday

The Thin Red Line

7.50am & 11.30pm Sky Movies Modern Greats

(Terrence Malick, 1998) Malick's first film after a 20-year gap was nominated for seven Oscars, but lost out to another Second World War drama, Saving Private Ryan. A starry ensemble cast that includes George Clooney, Sean Penn and Adrien Brody plays out the human drama of weary men fighting for their lives amid an entirely indifferent but beautifully filmed natural landscape.*****

Tuesday

London River

11.45pm BBC1

(Rachid Bouchareb, 2009) In the aftermath of the 7/7 London bombings, a widow from middle England goes to north London (a place "absolutely crawling with Muslims", she discovers) in search of her missing daughter. What she finds is some common ground with a careworn African searching for his son. A measured drama, melancholy but cautiously optimistic, and with strong performances by Brenda Blethyn and Sotigui Kouyate.***

Wednesday

The Third Man

4.05pm Film4

(Carol Reed, 1949) Filmed at off-kilter angles and in expressive black-and-white amid the rubble and division of post-war Vienna, Carol Reed's superlative melancholy thriller, from Graham Greene's script, finds Joseph Cotten in over his head as he looks into the death of his old school friend, Harry Lime. Leave it to Orson Welles to make one of the all-time great movie entrances. Alida Valli and Trevor Howard also star.*****

Thursday

Memento

9pm Film4

(Christopher Nolan, 2000) An excellent neo-noir thriller about a man (Guy Pearce) with anterograde amnesia, who tattoos notes on to his body to remind himself that he's on a mission to avenge the killing of his wife. It takes multiple viewings to make sense of the reverse-chronology plotting; after that you can begin to notice the real tragedy of his situation and the full extent of his madness.****

Friday

The Lavender Hill Mob

11.45am More4

(Charles Crichton, 1951) Ealing Studios' terrifically entertaining and (ever so mildly) subversive 1951 crime caper stars Alec Guinness as an outwardly timid and deferential bank clerk who has long nurtured a secret plan to steal £1m in gold bullion from his employers; the Oscar-winning script by TEB Clarke is similarly meticulous and cunning. Sid James and Audrey Hepburn co-star. ****

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