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Top films to watch on TV this week

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Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President’s Men (Thursday, BBC4, 9p.m.)

Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President’s Men (Thursday, BBC4, 9p.m.)

Kim Ki-tek (Song Kang-ho) and family in Parasite (Saturday, Channel 4, 10p.m.)

Kim Ki-tek (Song Kang-ho) and family in Parasite (Saturday, Channel 4, 10p.m.)

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Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President’s Men (Thursday, BBC4, 9p.m.)

WEDNESDAY

El Dorado (1966) Film4, 4.15p.m.

Director Howard Hawks could pretty much do anything – film noir (The Big Sleep), screwball comedy (Bringing Up Baby) and musicals (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) were just a few of the genres he mastered. He was also a dab hand at Westerns, as this absorbing and often very funny classic proves.

John Wayne stars as gunfighter Cole Thornton, who is hired by landowner Bart Jason (Edward Asner). However, the situation gets more complicated when Cole’s old friend, local sheriff JP Harrah (Robert Mitchum), warns him that the job will involve muscling an honest family of famers off their land.

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Wayne and Mitchum are both terrific, but there’s also an eye-catching role for a young James Caan, while Charlene Holt gets a lot of the best lines.

THURSDAY

All the President’s Men (1976) BBC4, 9p.m.

Made only two years after the events which it depicts took place, All the President’s Men won four Oscars, including Best Screenplay for William Goldman, the man who also wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Marathon Man.

The stars of the two aforementioned movies, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, take the leads as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein respectively who, in 1974, were reporters on the Washington Post newspaper. The pair were assigned to investigate a break-in at the Watergate Hotel, but ended up unearthing scandal and corruption at the White House which resulted in President Richard Nixon’s infamous resignation.

The film works because rather than going for an obvious documentary feel to the production, director Alan J Pakula shot it as an edge-of-your-seat thriller.

FRIDAY

Suicide Squad (2016) ITV2, 9p.m.

Ambitious US government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) fears the arrival of another meta-human like Superman. She proposes the formation of a government-sanctioned crew of incarcerated criminals to carry out covert missions under the command of decorated military officer Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Her hand-picked oddballs include baseball bat-wielding lunatic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and expert marksman Floyd Lawton (Will Smith).

Meanwhile, masked vigilante Batman (Ben Affleck) swoops over Gotham and super-villain The Joker (Jared Leto) plots a blood-spattered reunion with girlfriend Harley.

David Ayer’s film is a neon-lit carnival with whirling digital effects, slow-motion action sequences and a perfunctory supporting cast, although Smith and Robbie have the charisma to stand out.

SATURDAY

Parasite (2019) Channel 4, 10p.m.

Wily patriarch Kim Ki-tek (Song Kang-ho) presides over a family of con artists, including wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae-jin), son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) and daughter Ki-jung (Park So-dam). They live in a squalid basement apartment in a poor neighbourhood of Seoul, but good fortune smiles on Ki-woo when a friend recommends him as an English tutor for teenager Park Da-hae (Jeong Ji-so).

Once he has earned her wealthy mother Yon-kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) and father Dong-ik’s (Lee Sun-kyun) trust, Ki-woo recommends other members of his clan for positions of responsibility. However, housekeeper Mun-kwang (Lee Jung-eun) is suspicious.

Parasite is a wickedly entertaining, genre-bending satire, which deserved to become the first film not in the English language to claim the Best Picture statuette at the Oscars.

 

Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut (1979) BBC1, 12.15a.m.

Director Francis Ford Coppola added 30 extra minutes to his Vietnam war epic, and now there’s a chance to see it in all its glory.

Martin Sheen plays Captain Willard, an assassin assigned to find and kill the renegade Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who is believed to have descended into insanity.

Winner of two Oscars, including Best Cinematography, and two Baftas, it has gone on to influence countless movies, from Tropic Thunder and Avatar, to the more recent Ad Astra. Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford and Laurence Fishburne also star, while Robert Duvall has a memorable turn as the surf-obsessed Colonel Kilgore.

SUNDAY

Blue Velvet (1986) Film4, 11.15p.m.

David Lynch’s highly disturbing, sexually explicit look at life behind seemingly innocent small-town America served as a blueprint for his own weird TV series, Twin Peaks.

A voyeuristic student (Kyle MacLachlan) gets involved with a slinky nightclub singer (Isabella Rossellini). However, he doesn’t bank on the foul-mouthed, gas-snorting psychopath (Dennis Hopper) who is dogging her footsteps.

All the leads give faultless performances (no easy task, given the challenging material), but Hopper is genuinely terrifying playing one of cinema’s most sadistic baddies. It’s not a film for everyone – it divided the critics on its release – but it’s a fascinating couple of hours nevertheless.

MONDAY

To Die For (1995) Talking Pictures TV, 11.05p.m.

After a string of Hollywood roles that failed to make the most of her talents, Nicole Kidman made the critics sit up and take notice with her terrific performance in director Gus Van Sant’s dark, satirical comedy.

She plays Suzanne Stone, who plans to escape her small town and become a famous TV presenter. A job as a weather girl on a local station is her first step to world domination, but when her husband (Matt Dillon) announces he wants them to start a family, it seems like her dreams are going to be put on hold.

So, she sets about persuading her teenage lover (another rising star, Joaquin Phoenix) and his friends (Casey Affleck and Alison Folland) to murder him.


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