BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
True Grit ★★★★
This Coen brothers’ film is a much more faithful adaptation of Charles Portis’s novel than the original 1969 version starring John Wayne. It’s grimmer, grimier and in truth a better film, though less entertaining largely because nobody in the cast, except the excellent Hailee Steinfeld, seemed to open their mouths when speaking. Steinfeld plays 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who hires maverick, one-eyed Deputy US Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to track down Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who murdered her father. The pursuit of Chaney and his equally murderous cohorts involves shoot-outs, much violence, a nasty encounter with a rattlesnake and the intermittent involvement of Matt Damon, as a Texas Ranger. An excellent cast then and, from what I could understand of it when the actors stopped mumbling, a sharp script. The film, which is rounded off with a neat, very touching epilogue, gained ten Oscar nominations, winning none, though I thought Steinfeld at least deserved an award.
The Two Faces of January ★★★★
9.00-10.50pm Film Four Premiere
Intrigue and slow-burn suspense rule the roost in this thriller, rather than frantic action, as Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac get embroiled in murder in 1960s Athens. It’s got the classy feel you’d expect from a story by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr Ripley).
The Incredibles ★★★★★
A superhero family is banished to suburban anonymity, but the head of the household finds the lure of crimefighting hard to resist, in Pixar’s hilarious animated comedy caper. From the engaging 2D title sequence on, this has everything a superhero movie could ask for, and more smart lines than most comedies. Word that a sequel is planned for release in 2019 is both exciting and terrifying.
John Carter ★★★
Forget the sniffy crits and bad box-office figures, this mega-budget yarn is a veritable entertainment extravaganza, as an American Civil War fighter is transplanted to a distant world ravaged by conflict. Taylor Kitsch isn’t quite rugged enough as the soldier who is forced to become a hero, but the movie is perfectly watchable in the hands of director Andrew Stanton, whose Finding Dory is one of the most anticipated releases of this summer.
My Brother the Devil ★★★
11.30pm-1.15am BBC1 Premiere
Sally El Hosaini’s stylish London crime drama follows young Fady Elsayed, the youngest member of a traditional working class Egyptian household living in Hackney, who wants to grow up to be like his gangster brother James Floyd – at the same time that Floyd is starting to see the error of his ways. It’s a bold, honest movie that tackles crime, sexuality and identity head on.