5 things to watch this weekend – 5 to 7 April

Andrew Scott steps into the sociopathic shoes of Tom Ripley, while the centenary of Marlon Brando is celebrated on big screens and small.

5 April 2024

By Sam Wigley

Ripley (2024)

Where’s it on? Netflix

Twenty-five years after Anthony Minghella’s gorgeous big-screen adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), noted screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) has returned to Patricia Highsmith’s literary thriller for this eight-episode Netflix miniseries. Andrew Scott steps into the chameleonic role of calculating sociopath Tom Ripley, who inveigles himself into the expat lives of loafing rich kid Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) and his girlfriend Marge (Dakota Fanning) in sunny Italy. Shot in razorsharp black and white, Zaillian’s version takes its time, and fans of Minghella’s film will miss the entitled energy that Jude Law brought to the role of Dickie, not to mention Matt Damon’s boyish creepiness as Tom. But Highsmith’s plot is a game of chess where different moves keep things interesting.

Evil Does Not Exist (2023)

Where’s it on? Cinema nationwide

Ryusuke Hamaguchi is the Japanese director who earned a place at the captain’s table with his dual 2021 releases Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. This new drama runs as calmly as a mountain stream, until suddenly it doesn’t. The setting is a woodsy Japanese village, where odd-jobman Takumi (Hitoshi Omika) is bringing up a young daughter. Ripples of change are set in motion by the arrival of representatives from a Tokyo leisure company that plans to build a glamping site in the area – cue one of those gripping, townhall debate sequences that are very in vogue in international cinema at the moment. But Hamaguchi’s enigmatic drama has more on its mind than the culture clash between town and country, capitalism and tradition. He’s heading for an ending that gives you plenty to argue about as you leave the cinema.

On the Waterfront (1954)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

On the Waterfront (1954)

Back in cinemas for its 70th anniversary, but also following the centenary of Marlon Brando’s birth on 3 April, On the Waterfront is Elia Kazan’s famous dockyard drama featuring Brando in a powerhouse ensemble alongside Rod Steiger, Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint. Enshrined as an American masterpiece with multiple Oscars, it’s nonetheless a contentious classic: its story of a docker turning informant against a crooked union boss has usually been seen as Kazan’s special pleading for his own naming of names to the House Un-American Activities Committee. Giving Brando his celebrated “I coulda been a contender” dialogue with Steiger in the back of a car, it remains the major stepping stone between film noir and the later Method-harnessing New York movies of Scorsese and De Niro. 

Julius Caesar (1953)

Where’s it on? BBC2, Sunday, 12:00

Julius Caesar (1953)

Brando’s centenary hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Beeb either, who offer us a Sunday afternoon double bill – both directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Julius Caesar is probably the screen’s definitive version of the Shakespeare history play, with the kind of red-meat cast it would be difficult to better. Coming to praise Caesar, not to bury him, Brando is a ripped, imposing Mark Antony, alongside James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius and Louis Calhern as the doomed emperor himself. Mankiewicz’s film moves with confidence from the senate to the battlefields of Philippi, as tragedy engulfs the ancient scene. Guys and Dolls (which follows at 2pm) could scarcely be more different, with Brando singing and dancing as cocky high-roller Sky Masterson.

Yannick (2023)

Where’s it on? Mubi

Quentin Dupieux is the man once responsible for puppet character Flat Eric and the 1999 Mr Oizo hit ‘Flat Beat’, but who has since become a busy director of French farces – breaking through with serial-killing-tyre saga Rubber (2010). Yannick is one of five features he’s directed in the last two or three years (the latest of which was announced this week as the opener of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival). It’s a black comedy about a theatre audience member who – in the middle of a very stilted stage production – decides he can’t take it anymore and ends up hijacking the actors and his fellow audience members at gunpoint while he writes something better. Rushing by in 67 minutes in the single location, Yannick is a meta-farce with plenty of smart observations about the unwritten contract between performers and spectators.