Erin Brockovich, Sunshine on Leith, Serpico: films on TV today

Julia Roberts takes on the polluters, the Proclaimers soundtrack a homecoming, and Al Pacino is the only decent cop in New York: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY 
Erin Brockovich ★★★★
9.00-11.40pm Movie Mix 

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Julia Roberts always seems to act best when dressed as a tart. She was stunning as the hooker in Pretty Woman and equally stunning as the more respectable but still hooker-clad heroine here. Maybe the comparative absence of clothes frees her from inhibitions. Whatever, in plunging necklines and skimpy skirts she won the Oscar as the eponymous and real-life Erin, who uncovered an enormous environmental crime. A divorced, unemployed single mother, Brockovich (who, incidentally, dressed as Roberts does in the film) parleyed her way into a job as assistant to a lawyer (Albert Finney), who had failed to win her a damages claim. From there, entirely off her own bat, she successfully investigated claims that pollution caused by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company had caused all manner of diseases up to and including cancer. Steven Soderbergh’s film is essentially about an apparent no-hoper, who found a sense of self-worth. It’s sharp and lively, and both Roberts and Finney are on excellent form.


Sunshine on Leith ★★★★
4.35-6.35pm Film4 

Dexter Fletcher is flying high in cinemas at present with his Eddie the Eagle biopic. But his previous film as director showed he could turn his hand to musicals, too, with a story about two soldier buddies returning home to Edinburgh.


A Serious Man ★★★★
11.05pm-12.45am BBC2 

The Coen brothers opt for an unstarry but terrific cast for this typically thought-provoking tale about a physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) in 1960s Minneapolis trying to figure out the puzzles of life.


Serpico ★★★★
1.05-3.20am C4 

Al Pacino gave one of his early, powerhouse performances in this true-life tale about an idealistic young cop who takes a stand to expose the corruption rife in the New York Police Department. 


The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter ★★★
Premiere 1.35-3.45am Film4 

Is this one of the greatest martial arts movies ever made? Most critics would agree that this Shaw Brothers classic holds its own against Bruce Lee’s best. Tarantino favourite Gordon Liu stars as the spear-wielding son of a massacred clan who’s out for revenge.  


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