ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY Arbitrage★★★★ 12.10-2.00am C4
It’s hard to sympathise with a wealthy, cheating Wall Street hedge fund manager at the best of times, but when he’s revealed to have committed fraud and left his mistress for dead after a car accident (as he does in the opening scenes of this New York thriller – and the trailer), it’s harder still. Fortunately for screenwriter Nicholas Jarecki, making his feature debut as a director, his unscrupulous magnate is played by Richard Gere, who grows more handsome as he gets older, and twinkles his way into our sympathy as he digs himself deeper into a hole. He keeps a cool exterior while outside forces, led by Tim Roth’s detective, close in… his daughter and business partner (a superb Brit Marling) discovers anomalies in the books and Harlem fixer Nate Parker falls under suspicion. The tension is palpable, the outcome surprising and it won’t change your mind if you happen to think the world of high finance is venal and toxic.
With the tagline “Declared illegitimate aged 3. Tried for treason aged 21. Crowned Queen aged 25”, Shekhar Kapur’s clever drama instantly dispenses with any preconceptions audiences may have about watching an Elizabethan costume drama. Michael Hirst’s gripping screenplay turns the young queen’s accession into a desperate fight for survival, as Elizabeth is surrounded by financial, religious and political uncertainty. Cate Blanchett is marvellous in the lead, with a performance of grace and power, and she is mightily supported by Geoffrey Rush’s Sir Francis Walsingham.
Thirty three years after the release of Alien (showing later in tonight’s double bill), Ridley Scott proves he’s still the master of sci-fi horror, as an expedition goes in search of mankind’s alien ancestors. But they might not like what they find. It’s a great-looking movie, with strong performances, though anyone looking for answers might have to wait for any one of several sequels that Scott has promised.
District 9 director Neill Blomkamp takes his dystopian template upmarket with this immaculately designed sci-fi fable. Matt Damon adds a bit of muscle to his everyman, playing the irradiated nobody in an impoverished 2054 Los Angeles who is determined to get to the floating utopia called Elysium that has the medical facilities to cure him. But first he has to get past malevolent defence secretary Jodie Foster.
You know what to expect when Bruce Willis teams up with director Tony Scott: a mix of world-weary quips and beautifully timed explosions. Willis and sidekick Damon Wayans make for an engaging buddy pairing, trading insults and punches with hoodlums as they find themselves up to their necks in sports corruption while trying to discover who killed Wayans’s girlfriend.
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