FILMS OF THE WEEK
SATURDAY Titanic (1997) (Channel 4, 7pm)
Buoyed by the on-screen chemistry of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, James Cameron’s love story sailed away with 11 Academy Awards. The film begins with Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and his team of hi-tech treasure hunters scouring the submerged wreck. The search comes to nought until Brock meets 101-year-old survivor Rose DeWitt Bukater (Gloria Stuart). Staring transfixed at a sketch of her younger self (Winslet), Rose recalls her burgeoning romance with spirited artist Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) aboard the eponymous luxury liner.
Jimi: All Is By My Side (2013) (BBC Two, 9.45pm)
Unable to secure the musical rights from Jimi Hendrix’s estate for this biopic, writer-director John Ridley focuses on the 12-month period from 1966 to 1967, before the showman cemented his place in the musical firmament. The film begins with Keith Richards’ girlfriend, Linda Keith (Imogen Poots), discovering Hendrix (Outkast’s Andre Benjamin) playing backup guitar at the Cheetah Club in New York. She introduces Hendrix to Chas Chandler (Andrew Buckley), who becomes his manager. As a band forms around Hendrix, including bass player Noel Redding (Oliver Bennett) and drummer Mitch Mitchell (Tom Dunlea), the frontman begins a relationship with Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell) that jeopardises his ascent before it has begun.
SUNDAY Gladiator (2000) (More4, 9pm)
Ridley Scott collected five Oscars including Best Picture for this muscular sword-and-sandals epic. The hero of the day is Maximus (Russell Crowe), a general in the army of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), who is adored as much by his men as he is by the Emperor. Conniving heir to the throne Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) murders the Emperor in a fit of jealousy and orders the execution of gallant Maximus, the sole threat to his rule. The hero escapes with his life and is forced into slavery, training as a gladiator under the debonair Proximo (Oliver Reed). Crowe shoulders leading man duties with relish, lending Maximus an unexpected depth opposite Reed in his final performance.
Chef (2014) (Film4, 9pm)
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is the star chef at a Los Angeles restaurant owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman). Food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) makes a reservation and Carl plans a new tasting menu. However, Riva forces Carl to revert to his signature dishes and Ramsey pens a scathing review, which berates Carl for resting on his laurels. The argument between chef and critic spirals out of control and Carl publicly quits his job and heads to Miami with ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) and their son Percy (Emjay Anthony). In familiar surroundings, Carl transforms a worn-out truck into a mobile eaterie par excellence. Written and directed by Favreau, Chef is life-affirming drama that wears its heart on its sleeve.
MONDAY The Barefoot Contessa (1954) (Film4, 11am)
Humphrey Bogart stars as down-on-his luck filmmaker Harry, who spots the beautiful Maria (Ava Gardner) dancing in a Spanish nightclub and decides to make her a leading lady. Thanks to her charisma, Harry’s skill and the efforts of an insincere publicist (Edmond O’Brien), Maria becomes a huge star. But sadly, fame does not bring happiness, and Maria’s personal life becomes increasingly troubled.
TUESDAY Down to the Sea in Ships (1949) (Film4, 11am)
Very loosely based on a silent film of the same name, this seafaring adventure stars Lionel Barrymore as Bering Joy, the ageing captain of a whaling ship who is under pressure to retire. Determined to prove he is still up to the job, he heads out on one last mission, and brings along his young grandson, Jed (Dean Stockwell). Bering is less happy about the presence of Dan (Richard Widmark), who the ship’s owners have handpicked as his replacement, but all rivalries are put aside when disaster strikes.
Un Chien Andalou (1928) (BBC Four, 10.30pm)
With a running time under 30 minutes, Luis Bunuel’s surreal directorial debut is one of cinema’s landmark moments. Un Chien Andalou comprises a series of hypnotic images spliced together without any tangible narrative structure, including ants crawling in the palm of a hand and a man dragging a grand piano along a street. The true-life tragedies that dogged the film following its release – the two lead actors died in shocking circumstances – are almost as memorable as the nightmarish images that Bunuel commits to the screen.
WEDNESDAY Horrible Bosses (2011) (ITV2, 9pm)
Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) has been denied a promotion by his boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), while Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) is forced to stand by as the company he works for is run into ground by the owner’s cocaine-snorting son Bobby (Colin Farrell), and dental nurse Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) is sexually harassed on a daily basis by his employer, Dr Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). So, when jailbird Dean Jones (Jamie Foxx) plants the idea of a chain reaction of seemingly accidental deaths, the three friends are intrigued.
THURSDAY American Hustle (2013) (Film4, 11pm)
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence reunite with Silver Linings Playbook director David O Russell for this dark crime comedy. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a brilliant con man, who is trapped in a loveless marriage with a harridan wife, Rosalyn (Lawrence). So Irving throws himself into his illegal work, recruiting an inexperienced sidekick Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who poses as a rich English aristocrat in order to secure funds from gullible businessmen. Irving and Sydney are arrested by ambitious FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Cooper), who forces them to put their dubious talents to good use to entrap Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and his associates in the underworld.
FRIDAY The Transporter (2002) (E4, 9pm)
Jason Statham’s first outing as Frank, the mysterious, sharp-suited delivery driver was a riproaring success. Simply put, Frank finds himself in trouble when he breaks the rule that he should never ask what he’s transporting. He discovers that his latest cargo is alive, and thrusts himself into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with his unknown employers. It’s not the most gripping or clever of plotlines, but you’ll forget all about that minor setback once the action gets under way – and Statham did most of the stunts himself.
Top: Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence make a formidable cast in dark crime comedy American Hustle. Above: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in James Cameron’s Oscarwinning Titanic