FILM OF THE WEEK: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Film4, Saturday February 14, 3pm
Much like Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a Western about men on the verge of being swept away by a new era of modernity. While both share a similarly climatic final scene and were released in 1969, the similarities ends there, however. George Roy Hill’s film is by far the softer, friendlier, less nihilistic of the two, and in many ways it set the mold for every buddy movie made since.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford play the titular characters as such irresistibly affable anti-heroes that it’s hard not to forget both men had a rather notorious habit of relieving others of their money at gunpoint. In essence, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a three-way love story, given that Butch and Sundance are every bit as enamoured with one another as they are with Sundance’s girlfriend Etta (played with a similar charm by The Graduate’s Katharine Ross).
Combining the best aspects of the Western genre with a much more contemporary playfulness (anyone who has seen the film will never fail to recall Newman and Ross larking around on a bicycle whenever they hear Burt Bacharach’s Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head), and enlivened by the timeless charisma of its stars, the film is never less than a joyous pleasure to watch. Butch and Sundance may not have been able to outrun the modern world, but they sure had fun trying.
SET THE RECORDER FOR:
Channel 4, Saturday November 16, 9pm
There were reports of complaints from several well-to-do cinemagoers who went to see Black Swan expecting a film about a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, only to be presented with a film about a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake by the most bonkers ballet company conceivable. A mixture of body horror, psychological drama and erotic thriller, it was no wonder those of a more conservative disposition got such a shock. Natalie Portman is well worthy of the Best Actress Oscar she collected for the film, with equally excellent support from Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel.
Drag Me To Hell
Five, Sunday February 15, 11:20pm
Having left horror behind him with 1992’s Army Of Darkness and achieved A-list success at the helm of the Spiderman films, it was a wonderful surprise when Sam Raimi returned to the genre with 2009’s Drag Me To Hell. Deciding against the full-on blood and guts approach of his youth this time he opted a more traditional tale of supernatural spookery. Don’t for a minute let that deter you – with jumps that will literally throw you out of your seat, Drag Me To Hell is the most enjoyable rollercoaster ride of a movie. Imbuing just the right amount of camp, the film still has the knockabout fun that made Raimi’s earlier work so memorable you’ll be talking about it for days afterwards.
Channel 4, Tuesday February 17, 1:30am
Given the circumstances it had to contend with, it’s remarkable that Wadjda was made at all. First of all writer and director Haifaa al-Mansour spent five years securing funding for a film about the struggle of being female in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia. Then there was the fact that, whilst shooting on location in Riyadh, al-Mansour could not mix with the male film crew, and had to direct via walkie-talkies and a monitor. Her efforts were more than worthwhile, however, with the bittersweet tale of a girl and her dreams of owning a bicycle shining a light on a culture rarely represented in cinema.
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