FILM OF THE WEEK: The King of Comedy
Channel 4, Saturday April 19, 12:15am
Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets: all are justifiably cited when making a case for Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese as one of cinema’s greatest actor/director partnerships. Mention The King of Comedy, however, and far too often people draw a total blank – a crying shame, given that it’s up there with the duo’s very best work. Even Scorsese himself has hailed it as his favourite of their collaborations.
Perhaps audiences didn’t take to The King of Comedy because as Rupert Pupkin, a fantasist with aspirations for the heights of showbiz, De Niro plays against the feral vision of masculinity they had seen in his previous roles. Or perhaps it was because, as the director speculated, it gives off “an aura of something that people didn’t want to look at or know”. Either way, a mark of the film’s prescience is that despite being released over 30 years ago, it has never seemed more relevant today.
Pupkin is the perfect embodiment of our reality/structured-reality television-led zeitgeist – a man who wants fame and wants it overnight, bypassing any notion of hard work in between. Like Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, he too hatches a demented plot to achieve his goal, but fear not – The King of Comedy is a razor-sharp satire with plenty of laughs en route. Watch out for a screen-devouring turn from Sandra Bernhard as the equally deranged fan Pupkin ropes along in his quest for instant celebrity.
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BBC Four, Saturday April 19, 9pm
The ‘Angry Hitler’ Downfall parody memes have suffered badly from the law of diminishing returns since appearing on the internet around five years ago. While the first few were mildly amusing, the rest became ever more tedious. But behind the craze is a truly fine work that offers genuine insight into the final days of history’s most reviled figure. Rather than archetypal monster, actor Bruno Ganz’s outstanding performance instead paints Hitler as fully fleshed-out human being, making the reality of his demagoguery even more horrifying in the process.
Made of Stone
Channel 4, Saturday April 19, 10:50pm
In following one of the UK’s most eulogised bands, Stone Roses fans exhibit the kind of devotion usually reserved only for cult leaders and religious deities. Amongst them is This Is England director Shane Meadows, who managed to embed himself with the Roses when they reformed for a short UK and European tour back in 2012. Where a Nick Broomfield or a Werner Herzog might have tried to find darkness at the heart of the band, Meadows is more interested in simply being their mate. As a result, Made of Stone is essential viewing for anyone who’s ever danced like a loon to Fool’s Gold, I Am The Resurrection and the rest.
Toy Story 3
BBC Three, Sunday April 20, 8pm
Before it takes a short walk to the gallows, has the noose placed round its neck and takes a short, sharp drop to television’s afterlife, BBC Three is treating us to the entire Toy Story trilogy this weekend, starting Friday evening and culminating with the third and possibly best installment on Sunday. A meditation on love, loss and mortality wrapped up in the guise of a hugely entertaining children’s film, even Quentin Tarantino chose it as his best film of 2010.