TV Films Of The Week

TV films of the week 19

FILM OF THE WEEK: Senna
ITV1, Saturday October 12, 10:20pm

This week Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was forced to backtrack on a tweet he wrote suggesting the sport had become a bit boring. He needn’t have bothered with the apology though, given that he is absolutely right. With Sebastian Vettel winning just about every race going for Red Bull, this once thrilling pursuit is now about as exciting as watching lane markings dry.

It wasn’t always this way. As Ron Howard’s Rush demonstrates, men driving round in circles at a hundred miles an hour can actually be electrifying entertainment when the element of competition remains as keen as ever. Three years before Rush’s fictionalised telling of the duel between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, however, cinemagoers had already been reminded of how thrilling the sport used to be in Senna, the true-life account of one of its greatest ever competitors.

Although a documentary charting Ayrton Senna’s career from electric beginning to tragic end, the film contains so much footage of his races, his clashes with officials and his moments of doubt, that it is as compelling as any dramatised version would have been. Even those who have never watched a Formula One race in their lives, nor wanted to, will find themselves engrossed in the story of a man whose prodigious talent, all too briefly, lit up the world.

SET THE RECORDER FOR:

American Graffiti
Film4, Friday October 11, 11:15pm

Pop quiz: what was George Lucas’s first film as director to break box office records? Is that Star Wars, you say? If you did, you’d be wrong – from a relatively small budget of $775,000, American Graffiti went on to make over $200m and become one of the most profitable films of all time. A coming of age flick set in 1960s California, it’s pretty good too, scoring a nomination for Best Picture Oscar and judged worthy of preservation in the US Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.

The Adjustment Bureau
Channel 4, Saturday October 12, 9pm

So melodramatic is The Adjustment Bureau’s tale of angel-like agents shaping peoples’ fates to the grand design of ‘the chairman’ that you could imagine it being a remake of a Howard Hawks film from the 1940s or 50s. It’s not though, being instead based (loosely) on a short story by science fiction author Philip K. Dick. Slick without ever feeling overcooked, the romance between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt is so convincing only those with a heart of stone can fail to get caught up in the ride.

La Vie En Rose
BBC Four, Sunday October 13, 11:40pm

Another pop quiz: who was the first actor or actress to scoop an Oscar for a non-English speaking role? No, not Sylvester Stallone for Rocky; the answer is Marion Cotillard for the lead turn in La Vie En Rose, a biopic of famous French chanteuse Ediaf Piaf. Piaf’s was life was tempestuous to say the least, making Cotillard’s task a complex one, but she turns in a performance of such emotional depth it’s almost as if Piaf had been resurrected to play the part herself.

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