BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
Zero Dark Thirty ★★★★
At the 2013 Bafta film awards, the host Stephen Fry regretted that he hadn’t seen the first 29 episodes of what he called “the Zero Dark franchise”. A good joke about an excellent film (whose title, according to some, is spy talk for half-past midnight, but to others just an unspecified time in the early hours) that tells how America’s Navy SEALS found and killed Osama Bin Laden. It holds the attention throughout, thanks largely to the splendid Jessica Chastain. She plays Maya, a fictional CIA agent based on a real one whose identity can’t be revealed for obvious reasons, and whose only task with the agency is to find Bin Laden. This she does, often despite her fellow agents who disagree with her theories. As we follow Maya’s progress through anxiety, self-doubt and physical danger — a bomb in a hotel, a car shot up by terrorists — Kathryn Bigelow’s film develops into a tense, absorbing thriller. Of course, there’s no surprise ending — we all know what happened, but it’s how it happened that matters here.
Pierce Brosnan kicked off a new Bond era in this cracking post-Cold War spy adventure in which 007 hunts down a rogue Soviet general.
American Pie: the Wedding ★★★
One of the funnier entries from the American Pie conveyor belt of sequels. Jim and Michelle (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) finally decide to tie the knot, but before the wedding comes the bachelor party.
Apocalypse Now ★★★★★
Martin Sheen’s US Army captain is sent to assassinate Marlon Brando’s rogue colonel in Francis Ford Coppola’s riveting Vietnam War drama. There was chaos on and off the set – Sheen had a heart attack, Brando didn’t know his lines (and had eaten all the pies) – but somehow a masterpiece was born.
Killing Them Softly ★★★
Not a biopic about hip hop trio The Fugees, Killing Them Softly is actually a Brad Pitt produced thriller about small-time criminals robbing a high-stakes card game.
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