FILMS OF THE WEEK
SATURDAY The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) (Channel 4, 8pm)
Evelyn (Judi Dench) is coming to terms with the recent loss of her husband in this charming comedy drama. 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 off his back.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) (BBC Two, 11.15pm)
Adapted from the novel by Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a taut drama about a conversation between a Pakistani professor and an American investigative journalist that might in fact be a battle of wits between a terrorist and a CIA operative. An Islamic fundamentalist group kidnaps an American college professor and holds the national in exchange for a ransom and the release of prisoners. Writer Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber) sits down with Changez (Riz Ahmed), who claims to be a friend and colleague of the abducted man. Bobby encourages Changez to recount the story of his life, while CIA agent Ludlow Cooper (Martin Donovan) listens to the conversation, hoping Changez might inadvertently give away clues about the abduction.
SUNDAY Cold in July (2014) (BBC Two, 10pm)
Expertly constructed by writer-director Jim Mickle, Cold in July is a grimy portrait of the secrets and lies that fester in small communities. Richard Dane (Michael C Hall) lives with his wife Ann (Vinessa Shaw) and young son Jordan (Brogan Hall). One night, Ann wakes to sounds in the living room and Richard creeps down the corridor and shoots dead an intruder in the darkness. Sheriff Ray Price (Nick Damici) assures Richard he did nothing wrong and discloses that the intruder was a wanted man with a history of felonies. Richard is haunted by his actions and when he crosses paths with the dead man’s father Ben (Sam Shepard), the two strangers are drawn into a terrifying game of cat and mouse.
Iron Man 3 (2013) (BBC One, 10.30pm)
Robert Downey Jr returns as the billionaire-inventorsuperhero Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, but we now find him to be an insomniac prone to panic attacks. He does at least have his former assistant-turned-CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) on hand to soothe him. It’s not long, though, before their domestic bliss is thwarted by a two-pronged attack – the arrival of super-powered humans and the figurehead of a terror group who is known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). When Stark’s mansion is reduced to rubble, he embarks on a quest to find those responsible. A definite improvement on Iron Man 2, this enjoyable superhero sequel meets the high standards we’ve come to expect from Marvel.
MONDAY Arabian Nights (1942) (Film4, 1.15pm)
Very loosely based on the Book of One Thousand and One Nights, director John Rawlins’ film tells the story of Sherazade (Maria Montez), a circus dancer who captures the heart of Kamar (Leif Erickson), the brother of the caliph. As a prophecy has claimed Sherazade is a future queen, Kamar decides to seize the throne for himself – and his deposed sibling Haroun-Al-Raschid, (Jon Hall) finds himself hiding out in the circus where Sherazade is employed.
TUESDAY Youth (2015) (Film4, 9pm)
Retired composer Fred Ballinger (Caine) and film director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) have been good friends for more than 60 years and they enjoy a sunkissed retreat at a hotel in the Alps. Out of the blue, Fred receives a visit from the Queen’s emissary (Alex Macqueen), who asks the conductor to perform his most famous work at a concert in honour of the monarch. Fred refuses and returns to his relaxation, with occasional visits from his emotionally brittle daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz), who is in the midst of a painful separation.
WEDNESDAY High-Rise (2015) (Film4, 9pm)
This awkward yet stylistically sumptuous adaptation of JG Ballard’s 1975 novel is set almost entirely within a 40-storey monolith forged in concrete and steel. Dr Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) arrives at his new home on the 25th floor of a 1970s tower block. He sunbathes naked and catches the eye of single mother Charlotte Melville (Sienna Miller), who lives upstairs. She introduces Robert to some of the other residents, and Robert is granted a private audience with the building’s architect, Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), who lives in the penthouse with his wife (Keeley Hawes). Power outages, which affect the lower floors, stoke resentment, sparking civil war which claims the lives of a number of the residents.
THURSDAY Sightseers (2012) (Film4, 11pm)
The art of romance isn’t dead – but it’s certainly deadly – in Ben Wheatley’s deranged road movie, which walks a tightrope between dark comedy and grisly horror. The bloodlust is tempered with some sweet yet dysfunctional romance in a script co-written by lead actors Steve Oram and Alice Lowe. Tina lives with her harridan mother (Eileen Davis), who never lets her daughter forget an unfortunate incident with knitting needles. Desperate for room to breathe, Tina agrees to accompany her boyfriend Chris on a caravanning holiday to some of the country’s cultural hotspots. As they tour the countryside, Chris deals out rough justice to passers-by who are rude or inconsiderate, and Tina realises she is dating a psychopath.
FRIDAY Shadow Dancer (2012) (BBC Two, 12.05am)
Single mother Colette McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough) blames herself for the death of her brother in 1970s Belfast. She harbours a deep resentment towards British forces, which fired the fateful bullet, and has assuaged her guilt as an active member of the IRA. British police apprehend Colette during an attempted bombing of the London Underground and MI5 operative Mac (Clive Owen) leads the interrogation. He provides evidence that an IRA bullet killed Colette’s brother and offers his prisoner an ultimatum: act as a mole or serve 25 years behind bars. James Marsh’s film is a riveting portrait of an era when political tensions threatened to boil over, and Riseborough is mesmerising.
From top: Andrea Riseborough plays a guilt-laden single mother in Troubles-era Belfast in Shadow Dancer; Elisabeth Moss and Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise, an adaptation of JG Ballard’s 1975 novel