Films of the week: A brief encounter with love in the finer details
(Andrew Haigh, 2011) Its relaxed naturalism and the actors' performances lend this charming gay romance – set in Nottingham over the course of two days of drug-taking, partying and soul-baring – universal appeal. But what makes it special is not its universality but its specificity; its honestly drawn characters, and the attention it pays to the detail of modern encounters. Tom Cullen and Chris New, won several festival awards. ****
Knight and Day
9pm Channel 4
(James Mangold, 2010) Very much playing to his strengths, but having fun with his persona at the same time, this $100m action caper keeps you guessing about Tom Cruise's character: is he an ultra-capable secret agent or just a self-interested killer? Either way, he's an out-and-out grinning lunatic. Cameron Diaz co-stars as the innocent he drags into trouble in various exotic locations. ***
(Aditya Assarat, 2007) In the ironically named Wonderful Town, an architect from the city falls in love with a girl from the tsunami-hit rural south of Thailand, where he is overseeing a rebuilding project. It is a beautifully photographed, lovely and gentle film – right until the point when prejudice and violence rear their ugly heads among some of her neighbours. Anchalee Saisoontorn stars. ****
Love and Other Drugs
12.40pm & 10pm Sky Movies Drama and Romance
(Edward Zwick, 2010) A slick, womanising Pfizer sales-rep (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a spiky artist with early-onset Parkinson's (Anne Hathaway, above left) meet in a GP's office, and become lovers. Which makes for highly engaging entertainment, even if the film this ends up as (a generic romantic-comedy) is different from the one it begins as (a cynical exposé of big-pharma practices). ***
(Paddy Considine, 2011) Paddy Considine's directorial debut is part of a British tradition of realist drama about social deprivation and violence. Its performances make it extraordinary. Peter Mullan makes the muttering drunk whom people would cross the street to avoid, into a complex character with an appealing dignity. Olivia Coleman plays a woman with unexpected depths, in whom he finds solace. ****
(Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970) Previously obscure but recently restored and re-appraised, this is a most peculiar and discomfiting British psychological sex comedy about a teenage boy's obsessive infatuation with his liberated colleague (Jane Asher). Imagine Confessions of a Swimming Pool Attendant directed by Nicolas Roeg, with an eye-popping cameo by Diana Dors and a soundtrack by the krautrock group Can. ****
9pm & 2.25am Sky Movies Classics
(Sidney Lumet, 1973) Sporting an impressive array of facial hair, Al Pacino plays Frank Serpico, a (real life) New York City cop from 1960 to 1972 who alarmed his colleagues by being in tune with the counter-culture, and refusing to accept the culture of bribery and corruption endemic to his department. More of a character study than a thriller, Serpico is still wholly gripping. *****
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