Television films of the week: Mike Leigh goes back to bleak in richly humane detail in Another Year


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The Independent Culture

Another Year

9pm Channel 4

(Mike Leigh, 2010) Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen play a contented couple in their late middle-age around whose welcoming London townhouse orbit various lonely souls and crushed spirits. The film's scenes – shared lunches, a barbecue, a funeral – span a year in their lives, but it's an autumnal mood which prevails. The drama is muted, but Leigh demonstrates his mastery of the cinema of small moments.

The Man Who Fell to Earth

10.50pm BBC2

(Nicolas Roeg, 1976) A Low-era David Bowie stars as the rich but lonely humanoid alien in this kaleidoscopic and haunting existential sci-fi oddity, adapted from a Walter Tevis novel. Bowie never fitted a film role better, and Nicolas Roeg was at the height of his powers (it was his next film after Don't Look Now) and able, even, to show us how our world looks to alien eyes. Rip Torn and Candy Clark also star.

The Artist

9.15am & 8.15pm Sky Movies Select

(Michel Hazanavicius, 2011) It was said that they don't make them like this anymore, but The Artist is a good old-fashioned black-and-white silent film. It's a wittily self-aware Hollywood romance set around the time of the arrival of the talkies, and so joyous and luminously expressive that it momentarily makes one wonder if we didn't lose something in the transition. Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo star.

The Third Man

11.25am More 4

(Carol Reed, 1949) Filmed at off-kilter angles and in expressive black-and-white amid the rubble and division of post-war Vienna, Carol Reed's superlative melancholy thriller, from Graham Greene's script, sees Joseph Cotten get in over his head as he looks into the death of his old school friend, Harry Lime. Leave it to Orson Welles to make one of the all-time great movie entrances.

Leaving Las Vegas

11.15pm Film4

(Mike Figgis, 1995) Nicolas Cage was given an Oscar for his powerful, studied performance as a late-stage alcoholic who burns his bridges in LA and chooses Las Vegas as a suitable place to drink himself to death. Elisabeth Shue is equally good as the prostitute who loves and enables him, however, and this film really belongs to her character. A bleak but tender movie about lost souls.

The Lavender Hill Mob

11.45am More 4

(Charles Crichton, 1951) Ealing studio's terrifically entertaining and (ever so mildly) subversive 1951 crime caper stars Alec Guinness as an outwardly timid and deferential bank clerk who has long nurtured a secret plan to steal £1m in gold bullion from his employers; the Oscar-winning script by TEB Clarke is similarly meticulous and cunning. Sid James and Audrey Hepburn co-star.

The Fly

10pm Sky Movies Greats

(David Cronenberg, 1986) A scientist (Jeff Goldblum) accidentally splices his genetic material with a bluebottle's, and begins to disintegrate before his journalist girlfriend's (Geena Davis) very eyes. David Cronenberg's remake of the Vincent Price B-movie is a prime example of his early "body horror" aesthetic, but at its core is a simple, affecting drama about a couple coming to terms with his terminal illness.