FILM OF THE WEEK: Before Sunrise
BBC Two, Friday February 14, 11.05pm
So Valentine’s Day is here once again, when every adult finds themself in one of four scenarios: happily enjoying the throes of a relationship very much in its infancy; settled and cynical enough to see through the commercial exercise the day really is; sat at home alone trying not to be reminded of just how single you are; or sat at home alone trying not to care how single you are (yet self-recrimination still seeps through your synapses).
Whatever your situation, Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise is a film for everyone. Well, everyone with a decent attention span and at least moderate powers of abstract thought. Its set-up could come straight out of any two-bit romcom: man (Ethan Hawke) meets woman (Julie Delpy) on train, man chats to woman on train, man convinces woman to get off at his stop by telling her if not she may forever wonder how her life would have turned out. However, neither represents any of the played-out archetypes the genre continually regurgitates; he’s an American just about to conclude an inter-rail trip around Europe, she’s a French student returning to university in Paris, while the city they disembark at is Vienna.
From that point forward it’s an absolute delight to watch as they meander their way around the Austrian capital through the day and into the night. Unencumbered by any agenda the young couple simply roam their temporary surroundings, talking life, love and everything in between so endearingly it’s impossible not to take them to your heart. Of course, there’s still the big ‘will they/won’t they’…and yes, even the most hardened cynics will be gagging to know the answer come sunrise.
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BBC Two, Saturday February 15, 9pm
Although the Coen brothers said they were adapting the original novel rather than remaking the 1969 John Wayne film, it was still something of surprise when they revealed True Grit as their next project. It helped immensely that the superlative Jeff Bridges was cast in the role (previously inhabited by Wayne) of Rooster Cogburn, a gnarled, one-eyed gunslinger hired by a 14-year-old orphan to hunt down her father’s killer. Although not the Coen’s most creative film, it was by far and away their biggest box office success, scoring ten Oscar nominations to boot.
State Of Play
ITV2, Sunday February 16, 12:15am
The big screen version of the critically acclaimed BBC TV series, any doubters were quickly silenced by the presence of The Last King Of Scotland Director Kevin Macdonald behind the camera, ably supported by screenwriters Tony Gilroy (the Bourne quadrilogy) and Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen). With a stellar cast led by Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren, State Of Play harks back to the more substantial thrillers of the 1970s whilst addressing contemporary issues, such as the symbiotic relationship between politicians and the press. Simultaneously intelligent and exciting, several genuinely shocking twists and turns never threaten to dent its credibility.
Film4, Tuesday February 18, 11:15pm
Watch the trailer below and you might think Brazil a chaotic-looking rip-off of Orwell’s 1984. Apparently many did on the film’s initial release in 1985, when it flopped at the box office. Since then, however, Terry Gilliam’s dystopian science fiction fable has rightly acquired cult status and recognition of the masterpiece it is. With Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem out in cinemas next month, there’s never been a better time to revisit his potent satirical vision.