MOVIE WATCH I.
Case 39 (2009) Film4, 11.30pm Social worker Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) and Detective Mike Barron (Ian McShane) are called to an address where a little girl is believed to be in danger. Breaking into the property, they discover Keith Sullivan (Callum Keith Rennie) and his wife Margaret (Kerry O'Malley) attempting to gas their cherubic 10-year-old daughter Lillith (Jodelle Ferland) in the oven. Thankfully, they rescue the tyke in the nick of time. Emily is moved by Lillith's plight and, breaking all the rules, she allows the girl to stay under her roof, offering the youngster the love and support she has never had. Alas, the social worker soon notices changes in the girl's behaviour, and comes to realise that Lillith is not all she seems. Case 39 is a supernatural yarn with an impressively heavyweight cast.
Last Chance Harvey (2008) BBC Two, 11.10pm Unlucky-in-love Kate (Emma Thompson) is an airport worker who bumps into equally lonesome American Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) when he flies into the country for his estranged daughter's wedding. After initially clashing, the pair hit it offand discover they are kindred spirits who may just be destined to spend the rest of their lives together. It may be an unremarkable plot, but this romantic drama is lifted way above average by its two lead stars. Thompson and Hoffman shared a brief scene in Stranger Than Fiction, got on like a house on fire and desperately wanted to work together on something more substantial - writer-director Joel Hopkins made their dream come true.
Elena (2011) BBC Two, 12.40am Andrei Zvyagintsev, director of The Return, delivers another impressive and moving character study shot on location in Moscow. Feisty grandmother Elena (Nadezhda Markina) lives with her second husband Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) in a plush apartment block. They sleep in separate rooms and despite Elena's best efforts, Vladimir refuses to show his emotions, which might explain in part why his daughter is a stranger in his life. Elena is closer to her son Sergey (Aleksey Rozin), who is unemployed and struggling to provide for his wife and two boys, one of whom seems doomed to be drafted to Ossetia unless he can land a college place. Elena is certain that Vladimir can pull strings and save her grandson from a grim future, but her husband remains deaf to her heartfelt pleas.
TOMORROW Evolution (2001) C4, 2.30pm If there's something strange in your neighbourhood, or - heaven forefend - an invisible man sleeping in your bed, you can always call the ever-reliable Ghostbusters. Thankfully, if you should happen to have a nasty infestation of extraterrestrial critters in the closet, help is also at hand. College professors Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and Harry Block (Orlando Jones) are ready and armed. They're not exactly the Men in Black - khaki, denim and plaid more like - and their methods may be a tad bizarre, but they mean business in this lighthearted romp, directed with tongue firmly in cheek by Ivan Reitman. Duchovny sends up his X-Files alter-ego a treat, railing against government conspiracies of silence. He plays everything completely deadpan, unlike Jones, who milks every laugh from the script.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) C4, 8pm Evelyn (Judi Dench) has recently lost her husband and is coming to terms with solitude in her twilight years in this charming comedy drama, which proved to be a surprise box-office smash. Determined to start anew, she abandons Britain for the balmier climes of Jaipur and a retirement home called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. En route, Evelyn meets other retirees all bound for this "luxury development for residents in their golden years" - cantankerous wheelchair-user Muriel (Maggie Smith), waspish snob Jean (Penelope Wilton) and her long-suffering husband Douglas (Bill Nighy), retired judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson), ladies' man Norman (Ronald Pickup) and spinster Madge (Celia Imrie). When the travellers arrive at their destination, they discover a building in disrepair and an inexperienced manager, Sonny (Dev Patel), struggling to keep the creditors offhis back.
House of Flying Daggers (2004) Film4, 11.50pm An underground alliance called the House of Flying Daggers gains massive support among the people of Feng Tian County, close to the Imperial Capital, by stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Captains Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are ordered to capture the leader of this mysterious secret society. They suspect that beautiful pavilion dancer Mei (Zhang Ziyi) is the daughter of the sect's previous leader, so they hatch a devious scheme - Leo arrests Mei, then Jin pretends to be a renegade warrior called Wind and rescues the damsel from her prison. House Of Flying Daggers is a visual treat. Every frame shimmers with colour and the three leads complement their rich, nuanced performances with wondrous displays of acrobatics and pirouettes.
Kelly + Victor (2012) Film4, 2.10am Based on Niall Griffiths' uncompromising novel of the same name, Kelly + Victor is a dark and disturbing drama about two lost souls, whose fledgling romance is scarred by sadomasochistic desire. Kelly (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) is struggling to find direction in her life. Her best friend Victoria (Claire Keelan) is making serious money as a dominatrix, but Kelly's first attempts at humiliation leave her feeling hollow. On the dance floor of a Liverpool nightclub she meets nice guy Victor (Julian Morris), who is embroiled in a haphazard drug-dealing scheme with his best mates Gaz (Stephen Walters) and Craig (William Ruane). From the moment Kelly and Victor fall into bed, the chemistry is electrifying but she is haunted by demons that force him to explore the darker side of sex, pushing both of them to the brink of self-annihilation.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 36 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35 MONDAY Field of Dreams (1989) Film4, 6.55pm An Iowa farmer hears voices telling him to build a baseball pitch in the middle of his field to bring back the ghost of a legendary player whose career was cut short by scandal. His wife is a bit bemused but generally supportive, and it seems a reclusive novelist and a former athlete who swapped sport for medicine may also have a role to play. But what will actually happen when the pitch is complete? There's no getting away from the fact that on paper, this film sounds ludicrous, especially to non-baseball fans - and yet somehow it works. It was a huge hit at the box office, and if you keep an open mind you may find yourself succumbing to its charms too. Kevin Costner's everyman qualities are prefect for his role, while James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster (in his final big-screen appearance) add a touch of gravitas.
Half Nelson (2006) Film4, 1.55am Ryan Gosling delivers a scintillating performance in this powerful and resolutely downbeat tale of an unlikely friendship between a twentysomething white man and a 13-year-old black girl. Ryan Fleck's film centres on junior high school history teacher Dan Dunne (Gosling), who is a favourite with the students - handsome, ebullient and charming, he is both a mentor and a friend. However, Dan hides a terrible secret - he often smokes crack in the school toilets after all the students have gone home. When one of his wards, Drey (Shareeka Epps), discovers him in a drug-addled stupor, Dan is forced to place his trust in the girl in the hope she won't expose his vices. Gosling is electrifying but Epps is equally impressive, revealing the sweetness and vulnerability behind her character's stony facade.
TUESDAY The Five-Year Engagement (2012) Film4, 9pm Love hurts, though not too badly, in Nicholas Stoller's romantic comedy about a doe-eyed couple whose rose-tinted dreams of marital bliss are undone by the pressures of everyday life that keep forcing them to postpone their big day. Penned by leading man Jason Segel and Stoller, who also collaborated on the script for The Muppets, The Five-Year Engagement trades heavily on the winning rapport between Segel and British actress Emily Blunt. The leads, who are friends in real life, gel delightfully in front of the camera and kindle sparks of sexual chemistry that have us rooting for the soon-to-be-weds when fate conspires to tear them apart.
Silent Running (1972) Film4, 2.45pm In the future, Earth has become completely barren and the only remaining plant life is being preserved on a space station. Astronaut Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) is horrified when an order comes through to jettison the intergalactic greenhouses and return home. In fact, he's so determined to save the flora and fauna, he's even willing to sacrifice his fellow crew members and tend the gardens with just the help of three robots. This low-key, low-budget sci-fidrama is a real gem. The ecological message feels ahead of its time without being heavy handed, and it's ultimately very moving. Dern is great in the lead role - which is just as well, as he has to carry the bulk of the film, although those robots turn out to be real scenestealers.
WEDNESDAY Just Wright (2010) Film4, 6.50pm Talented physical therapist Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) has always put her friends, including social climber Morgan (Paula Patton), ahead of herself. For once, Leslie strikes it lucky when she lands a job working with NBA All-Star basketball player Scott McKnight (Common). The pair get along famously but then Leslie finds herself slowly but surely falling in love with her client. To rub salt into her emotional wounds, Scott is clearly attracted to Morgan, who can think of nothing better than becoming an NBA trophy wife. Passed over yet again, Leslie must decide if she is content to always stay in the shadows or if, for once, she should protect her own interests, even if that means upsetting a valued friend, in this likeable romantic comedy.
Amelia (2009), left C4, 1.15am Mira Nair directs this chocolate-box biopic of plucky aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who soared to new heights in her trusty Lockhead L-10 Electra, only to disappear in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world. While contending with the chauvinism of the day, Amelia (Hilary Swank) becomes embroiled in a love triangle between her publisher husband George Putnam (Richard Gere) and dashing aeronautics professor Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). It's a shame the script isn't quite as impressive as the aerial photography and period costumes, but two-time Oscar winner Swank tackles the lead role with gusto.
Katy Perry was offered the role of Julie-Ann in One Chance, but declinedDavid Duchovny turned down a role in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) to appear in Evolution
<BHouse of Flying Daggers
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Five-Year Engagement