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NOW well into his 80s, Clint East­wood is among the most pro­lific film­mak­ers and an es­tab­lished Hol­ly­wood em­i­nence. In ad­di­tion to his many leg­endary per­for­mances (in­clud­ing five as Dirty Harry in the early days), he has di­rected and pro­duced more than 30 films, and for some of them com­posed the mu­sic as well. In 2002 East­wood pro­duced, di­rected and starred in Blood Work (Thurs­day, 8.30pm, M Thriller/ Crime), the fore­run­ner of ma­ture master­pieces such as Mys­tic River, Mil­lion Dol­lar Baby and Flags of our Fa­thers, which crowned his di­rect­ing ca­reer. In Blood Work he plays a re­tired FBI agent who suf­fers a heart at­tack dur­ing a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion and is given the heart of a mur­derer in a trans­plant op­er­a­tion. Put like that, it sounds strained and melo­dra­matic. But Brian Hel­ge­land’s screen­play, from a novel by Michael Con­nelly, works as a gritty pro­ce­dural, an ef­fi­cient thriller and an ironic com­men­tary on no­tions of mor­tal­ity. Jeff Daniels and An­jel­ica Huston are con­vinc­ing in sup­port­ing roles.

Eter­nal Sun­shine of the Spot­less Mind (Tues­day, 8.30pm, M Drama/Ro­mance) is a delightful fa­ble from di­rec­tor Michel Gondry, with a screen­play by Char­lie Kauf­man, a spe­cial­ist in para­dox­i­cal fan­tasy (as we know from Be­ing John Malkovich and Adap­ta­tion). Jim Car­rey is Joel, a lonely of­fice worker who meets Clementine (Kate Winslet) by chance on a rail­way plat­form. They fall in love, but Joel is ap­palled to dis­cover a few days later that Clementine has no mem­ory of him. Un­sure of their re­la­tion­ship, she has sought the ser­vices of La­cuna Inc, a shady out­fit that spe­cialises in eras­ing se­lected mem­o­ries. The re­sult is a poignant lit­tle love story in a sci-fi wrap­per with some agree­able comic twists and spe­cial ef­fects. Oc­ca­sion­ally Gondry sur­prises us, but we never lose touch with the es­sen­tial hu­man­ity of the char­ac­ters.

The best film about the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis is Mar­gin Call (Satur­day, 4.15pm, M Pre­miere), a first fea­ture by writer-di­rec­tor JC Chan­dor set in a Wall Street in­vest­ment bank (strongly sug­ges­tive of Lehman Broth­ers), where the ac­tion takes place across 36 hours. When some­one dis­cov­ers the firm is about to go belly up, ev­ery­one con­spires, first, to con­ceal the fact, and then to profit from it with a fire sale of toxic as­sets. There are great per­for­mances from Jeremy Irons as the firm’s chief ex­ec­u­tive and Kevin Spacey as a mid­dle-man­age­ment man with a con­science, but only in a re­mote sense is the film about real peo­ple. It’s about the im­per­sonal work­ings of the fi­nance in­dus­try, the jug­gling of elec­tronic for­tunes on screens — the world of fab­u­lous wealth largely called into be­ing by Ron­ald Rea­gan and Mar­garet Thatcher in the 1980s and de­scribed by satirist Michael Whar­ton as the em­pire of imag­i­nary money’’. With the hard-edge ur­gency of the best doc­u­men­taries, Mar­gin Call has wit, pathos and style.

Critic’s choice

★★★ ✩ Tues­day, 8.30pm, M Drama/Ro­mance

(M) ★★★ ✩ Thurs­day, 8.30pm, M Thriller/Crime

(M) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 4.15pm, M Pre­miere

(M)

In Blood Work

East­wood and Huston

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