THE WEEK’S BEST FILMS

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SATUR­DAY Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press (2017) (Sky Cin­ema Pre­miere, 2pm and 8pm) Three Sum­mers (2017) (BBC2, 10pm)

The lit­tle grey cells of mous­ta­chioed sleuth Her­cule Poirot are rig­or­ously tested in Ken­neth Branagh’s hand­some re-imag­in­ing of the snow­bound mur­der mys­tery. Poirot (Branagh) finds him­self on the Ori­ent Ex­press in a cabin next to gang­ster Sa­muel Ratch­ett (Johnny Depp), who of­fers to pay the Bel­gian to en­sure his safety. The de­tec­tive de­clines, but then a mur­derer strikes. Sus­pects in­clude Ratch­ett’s sec­re­tary Hector Mac­Queen, gov­erness Mary Deben­ham, Princess Natalia Dragomiroff and her maid Hilde­garde Sch­midt.

Ben El­ton writes and di­rects this like­able com­edy which is set in his adopted home­land of Aus­tralia and takes place over three years at an an­nual folk fes­ti­val. The main plot fol­lows theremin player Roland (Robert Shee­han) and pub band fid­dler Keevy (Re­becca Breeds), who find them­selves fall­ing in love de­spite their dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to life and mu­sic. How­ever, the film also ex­plores what it means to be a mod­ern Aus­tralian as it ad­dresses at­ti­tudes to­wards in­dige­nous peo­ple and im­mi­gra­tion. It’s a lot to tackle in just min­utes, but El­ton man­ages it with an im­pres­sive light­ness of touch.

SUN­DAY The For­given (2017) (Sky Cin­ema Pre­miere, 2.10pm and 10pm)

Based on Michael Ash­ton’s play, which had the more at­ten­tion-grab­bing ti­tle of The Arch­bishop and the An­tichrist, di­rec­tor Roland Joffe’s thriller stars For­est Whi­taker as Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu, who is ap­pointed chair­man of South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion. One of the peo­ple he has to in­ter­view is con­victed (fic­tional) mur­derer Piet Blom­feld (Eric Bana). The killer ini­tially shows no re­gret for his crimes or any in­cli­na­tion to of­fer in­for­ma­tion on other mur­ders he might have wit­nessed but, af­ter he is at­tacked in prison, he re­thinks his stance. It’s heavy-handed and never es­capes its stage­bound ori­gins, but Whi­taker and Bana are both ter­rific.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) (Chan­nel 4, 10pm)

Ten win­ters have passed since simian flu rav­aged the globe. One-time mil­i­tary man Drey­fus (Gary Old­man) leads sur­vivors of the ALZ-113 virus in San Fran­cisco. He dis­patches a team led by fam­ily man Mal­colm to ac­cess the O’Shaugh­nessy Dam, which pro­vides the city with elec­tric­ity. In the for­est that en­velops the dam, the scout­ing party en­coun­ters apes led by Cae­sar, in­clud­ing his am­bi­tious sec­ond-in-com­mand Koba. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes con­jures two hours of an­i­mal magic. Serkis’ ex­em­plary work as Cae­sar, the su­per-in­tel­li­gent chim­panzee who spear­heads the ape upris­ing, is the film’s emo­tional heart­beat. Kebbell is also com­pelling as Cae­sar’s war-mon­ger­ing ri­val, who be­lieves the key to his species’ sur­vival is the ex­ter­mi­na­tion of hu­mans.

MON­DAY Crim­son Peak (2015) (Film4, 10.45pm)

Di­rec­tor Guillermo del Toro’s film is an op­u­lent gothic ro­mance set in 19th-cen­tury New York and

TUES­DAY The En­emy Be­low (1957) (Film4, 4.40pm) WED­NES­DAY

Toot­sie (1982) (Film4, 6.45pm)

Dustin Hoff­man gives one of his finest per­for­mances in this ter­rific com­edy. He stars as Michael Dorsey, a gifted ac­tor who is so de­voted to his craft that no one

wants to hire him be­cause he’s im­pos­si­ble to work with. Af­ter los­ing out at an au­di­tion for a cheesy soap opera, Michael takes dras­tic ac­tion and re­turns to the cast­ing call in a skirt and wig as Dorothy Michaels. “She” wins over the show’s bosses and lands a juicy part but keep­ing up the cha­rade proves dif­fi­cult when Michael finds him­self fall­ing for his fe­male co-star. Jes­sica Lange won the Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress Os­car, but the en­tire cast is a de­light.

THURS­DAY Me­chanic: Res­ur­rec­tion (2016) (Film4, 9pm)

Ja­son Statham flexes his mus­cles and chis­els his jaw in Den­nis Gansel’s se­quel to the 2011 ac­tion thriller The Me­chanic. Con­tin­u­ing straight af­ter the first film, Res­ur­rec­tion fol­lows hit­man Arthur Bishop (Statham) in the af­ter­math of a failed attempt on his life by his du­plic­i­tous part­ner Steve McKenna. Since the rest of the world be­lieves he is dead, Arthur re­tires from the killing game and plans to set­tle down with Gina (Jes­sica Alba). Un­for­tu­nately, an old ad­ver­sary dis­cov­ers Arthur’s where­abouts and pres­sures him back into ac­tion by kid­nap­ping Gina. In or­der to save the woman he loves, Arthur must travel around the globe and carry out three sui­ci­dal mis­sions to as­sas­si­nate un­der­world fig­ures.

FRI­DAY The Hunger Games (2012) (Film4, 6.15pm)

In a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic fu­ture, North Amer­ica lies in ru­ins. In its place stands the au­to­cratic nation of Panem, com­pris­ing the wealthy Capi­tol and 12 sur­round­ing, poorer dis­tricts con­trolled by Pres­i­dent Snow (Don­ald Suther­land). Ev­ery year, one boy and one girl are se­lected by lot­tery from each district to take part in The Hunger Games, a tele­vised fight to the death. Kat­niss Everdeen (the steely Jen­nifer Lawrence) re­places her younger sis­ter Prim­rose (Wil­low Shields) as the fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tive from District 12, com­pet­ing along­side baker’s son Peeta Mel­lark (Josh Hutch­er­son). Their al­co­hol-sod­den men­tor Haymitch Aber­nathy (Woody Har­rel­son) pre­pares the young­sters for com­pe­ti­tion against the other teenagers in a bru­tal and bloody test of strength and en­durance in this grip­ping drama.

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