Gritty, deeply affecting, and superbly acted, 2009’s A Prophet ranks among those international art-house hits that come by their plaudits honestly. Directed by Jacques Audiard, the Oscar-nominated French drama-thriller chronicles a petty criminal from Algeria (Tahar Rahim) who ends up in a French prison, timid and lonely, but wins the respect of the don and eventually rises to become leader of a ruthless gang – but not without serious, life-altering consequences. Although the violence can be downright bloody and at times difficult to look at, in the end, you find it’s one of the crucial elements that make this well-wrought foreign-language film such a real and raw and powerful tour-de-force. [French, with English subtitles]
SONG OF THE WEEK: Rihanna’s “Diamonds (In the Sky)”
On “Hard,” off 2009’s platinum-selling Rated R, the music world was put on notice with the telling line “That Rihanna reign just won’t let up.” Fair warning. True to her word, Rihanna has not only gone on to become pop’s top-selling artiste of the digital age, but she is already on to her 7th studio album (out in November), led by the newly arrived gem “Diamonds (In the Sky),” an upbeat mid-tempo cut driven by an instantly infectious hook. Above all though, the track reminds us of the superstar’s versatility in her selection of material for her albums.
TV WATCH: ABC’s 666 Park Avenue
That’s some address. Among the buzzworthy new shows I’m checking out this season is the curiously titled ABC drama 666 Park Avenue, which premiered with a pretty decent pilot episode last Sunday night. David Annable (Brothers & Sisters) and Rachael Taylor star as a bright young couple who sign on as co-resident managers of an eerie but endlessly lavish upper Manhattan apartment building called The Drake. Not surprisingly, we learn that the place has a sinister, ghostly past – and the owners, Gavin and Olivia Doran (wickedly cool Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams), are a pair of suspicious characters. Viewers who like their drama with a dash of the supernatural should pay 666 Park Avenue a visit. Otherwise, it’s best to keep your distance. [Sundays at 10/9C, ABC.]