Pick of the week
You Hurt My Feelings
Julia Louis-Dreyfus hasn’t always found it easy to locate big-screen roles that allow her sardonic comedy persona and subtly modulated vocal inflections to flourish. Thankfully, she has found the ideal collaborator in writer-director Nicole Holofcener, whose acutely observed character comedies have seen her hailed as the inheritor of the Woody Allen/Nora Ephron tradition of walking-and-talking cinema. This latest is about the middle-aged confrontation with failure – when you realise you are perhaps not as great a writer, or actor, or interior designer as you might have supposed. Louis-Dreyfus creates a thoroughly believable central character assailed by doubts on all sides.
Tuesday 8 August, Prime Video
This mournful homage to Ian Curtis looks even better now than it did when it was first released in 2007 – and it looked fantastic then. It’s primarily down to great central performances: from Samantha Morton as Curtis’s wife Deborah and – particularly – from Sam Riley as Curtis himself, doing his own singing and channelling Curtis’s awkward-squad appeal to perfection. Director Anton Corbijn summons up the spirit of late-70s England in gloomy black-and-white – a perfect complement to a story that’s only grown more resonant with time.
Sunday 6 August, 9.45am and 2am, Sky Cinema Greats
This hardest of hardboiled British thrillers has Stanley Baker as ex-con lorry driver Tom Yately racing a crew of other riders (Sean Connery, Sid James, Gordon Jackson and Patrick McGoohan among them) over dangerous roads in their 10-ton trucks. Naturally, righteous Stanley tangles with McGoohan’s crooked crew leader and waltzes off with office girl Lucy (Peggy Cummins, who achieved retrospective noir immortality with Gun Crazy). Baker would make another great “hell” film – Hell Is a City – in 1960.
Monday 7 August, 12.20pm, Talking Pictures TV
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino honed his predilection for alternative/fictional history with this sprawling depiction of late-60s LA – like Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, it’s an account of what we might like to have happened rather than what did. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are actor Rick Dalton and his stunt double Rick Booth; they inadvertently head off the real-life Tate/LaBianca murders by tangling with the Manson cult. Margot Robbie is an impressive Sharon Tate, but Tarantino undermines himself with a silly scene in which Dalton takes on Bruce Lee.
Tuesday 8 August, 11.25pm, Film4
Produced and directed by Roger Corman – with a nakedly political intent he swiftly abandoned – and starring a charismatic William Shatner, a seductive hard-right troublemaker stirs up a race war in a small southern town unhappy at the prospect of school integration. With his softly spoken persuasiveness – and his mantra “whose law?” – Shatner’s Adam Cramer is a portrait of cynical malice that is instantly identifiable in current US politics. Genuinely revelatory.
Tuesday 8 August, 3am, Talking Pictures TV
The Amazing Mr Blunden
One of the great cult ghost stories of early-70s British cinema, this is well worth seeking out. A fatherless family in Edwardian England is relocated to a remote rural locale, there to experience potentially traumatising events (rescuing time-travelling murder victims rather than stopping a train crash). It even has a counterpart for Jenny Agutter’s threshold-of-adulthood Bobbie in the shape of Lynne Frederick’s Lucy who, like Bobbie, is the film’s emotional core. And Diana Dors has one of her best late film roles, as vicious housekeeper Mrs Wickens.
Wednesday 9 August, 7am and 4.40am, Sky Cinema Greats
The Big Boss
There has been a considerable amount of chatter recently about Bruce Lee, what with the 50th anniversary of his death and the impending cinema rerelease of his biggest hit, Enter the Dragon. But surely there’s no better way to celebrate the master than by going back to where it all began: this martial arts thriller set in Thailand in which he plays a lethal fighter who has promised his mum not to make trouble. The scene where he lets loose at the bullies beating up his fellow ice-factory workers is one of the great star-making moments.
Thursday 10 August, 4.20am, Sky Cinema Greats