ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
Hope Springs ★★★
Premiere 9.00-11.00pm C4
“Intensive couples counselling” is the theme of this tale, in which acting titans Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones pack themselves off to a gorgeous coastal town in Maine to have their marriage reinvigorated by shrink Steve Carell. Under the sure direction of David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada), the differing attitudes of a stolid husband and an up-for-it wife are given plenty of comic breathing room, especially during Carell’s initial intimacy exercises. (He’s woefully underused, by the way.) Prudish viewers are assured that even Streep’s broad-mindedness has its limits, and if the script tends to make Jones the butt of the joke, there’s enough warmth to override any clichés about such an unadventurous male. As with 2009’s It’s Complicated – which also dared to address sex among the over-50s – Streep’s believable, unforced comic turn is key to the success of what is a fairly lightweight piece of entertainment.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ★★★★
This third episode in the record-busting wizarding series is where things start to get interesting, as director Alfonso Cuaron brings a darker edge to Hogwarts and Harry starts to grow into his destiny. The sinister air deepens, with convicted murderer Sirius Black’s escape and the dementors, but there are plenty of light moments, as Harry, Ron and Hermione negotiate their way into puberty.
Let Me In ★★★
This English-language remake of hit Swedish movie Let the Right One In retains the original’s haunting atmosphere, as bullied Kodi Smit-McPhee discovers that there is more to his new neighbour (Chloë Grace Moretz) than meets the eye. It’s one of the few Hollywood Euro remakes that actually makes the transition.
An Officer and a Gentleman ★★★
Coming off the back of American Gigolo, Richard Gere (the George Clooney of his day) confirmed his star status with this unashamed mix of tough navy training school (high five, Louis Gossett, Jr) and love story (fantasy factory worker Debra Winger). Worth every minute just to get to the final scene where Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes belt out Oscar-winning song Up Where We Belong.
The casting of Richard Harris and Alec Guinness as Oliver Cromwell and Charles I is reason enough to have a look at this pithy historical drama from Ken Hughs. There’s plenty of political wrangling and some gutsy battles, making it a perfectly watchable primer for the build-up to the English Civil War.