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A DVD lagniappe, too

A Trifecta of the Week’s Best Films on the Box
Published: 
Sunday, January 11, 2015
BC on TV
Tom Hardy in Locke.

It’s like cable and DirecTV have made a New Year’s resolution to have excellent programming. Today’s Also Rans include Mel Gibson’s best road moment that didn’t involve meltdown and public anti-Semitism (The Road Warrior, 10.05 am Max), a good American sequel to the excellent French original (2 Days in New York, 8 am Fox Com), the film BC on TV called last year’s best crime DVD release (Metro Manila, 10.20 am MaxP), a great Spike Lee joint (He Got Game, 2.45 pm MaxW), BC on TV’s second-favourite horror of all time (The Exorcist, 2.20 pm MaxP), the best Chris Nolan/Bale Batman, if only because it has Heath Ledger in it (The Dark Knight, 2.35 pm HBO) and James Gandolfini’s last, very good, film (Enough Said, 3.45 pm Fox1W). In the week, look out for another strong Matthew McChest&Shoulders vehicle alongside the one chosen tomorrow (Mud, 9 pm Fox Movies) and what, for many, is the “better” version of Dangerous Liaisons (Valmont, 9 pm tomorrow, Sundance).

Today’s best film:

Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese/ 1980/ USA/ Biography-Drama-Sports / 132 mins/ B&W/ R for strong language and violent themes) 7.20 am Fox Classics BEST FILM OF THE WEEK. Watch this if you liked Friday Night Lights, Taxi Driver or The Wrestler. The American Film Institute puts Raging Bull at No 24 of the 100 best American films; BC on TV would have it in the top ten. Beautifully shot in black and white, it tells, with brutal honesty, the true story of 1949 middleweight champion Jake La Motta’s rise from the tenements of the Bronx to world champ and his Greek tragedy self-destruction. For many, this is De Niro’s best performance (though BC on TV favours Travis Bickle from Scorsese’s own Taxi Driver). Similarly, many would rate this Joe Pesci’s best role (although, again, BC on TV favours the comic mastery of his performance in My Cousin Vinny). However you look at it, this is one the great American films. Unequivocally, enthusiastically, reverentially, overwhelmingly recommended.

Rest of the week (and a lagniappe from last year):

The Paperboy (Lee Daniels/2012/ USA/ Thriller-Drama/ 107 mins/ R for strong sexual content and for violence and language), 5.45 pm and 8.45 pm Fox1. Watch this if you liked The Place Beyond the Pines, Labour Day or Killer Joe. The director of Precious ups his own ante with this very strong crime drama featuring knockout performances from Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Zac Efron—yes, that Zac Efron, the teenybopper heartthrob one—and Nicole Kidman at, or very near, her best in a strong supporting role. Add a crackling script and an amazingly deft touch in handling very dark material and you have one of the all-round best movies of 2012 and the film BC on TV named the tenth-best DVD release of 2013. Not for the squeamish at all—there are sexual images disturbing enough to render the abundant gore almost trivial—but, for the cinefile with a strong constitution, superb.

BC on TV uses the last usual “slot” in this space for an addendum to the list of the top DVD releases published in the Sunday Arts Section (SAS) last Sunday. Because the usual channels—ie, DVD pirates, or near-pirates—simply won’t bother with unusual films (and because BC on TV won’t consider Internet sites that trample all artistic rights, not just Disney’s)—some exceptional films only get noticed after deadlines. The fourth-best DVD release of 2014—topping both Omar and Of Good Report—was one such. Locke, directed by Steven “Eastern Promises” Knight, is a gripping drama—to call it a “thriller” could be defended—set entirely in a BMW: the whole film features one onscreen actor, the amazing Tom Hardy, sitting behind the wheel of his car and taking and making phone calls as he drives, by himself, from the Midlands to London. From that setup—and from a near-perfect script and the best one-man performance since Daniel Day Lewis’ Lincoln—emerges one of the strongest films made this century, though not one for Trinidad’s Fast & Furious crowd: there are hardly any external shots of the car.

*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months. Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end. 

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