Mud (2012 124 min.) [Film4 6.25pm &+1]
Two boys exploring an island on the Mississippi discover a fugitive has made his home there. He tells them he is on the run from bounty hunters after killing a man, and needs their help to be reunited with his lost love. As they ferry messages to the woman in question, the youngsters are forced to come to terms with the complexity of adult relationships. Drama, starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon.
The possible beginning of the re-evaluation of Matthew McConaughey after several years lost in the wasteland of landfill rom-coms.
He plays the title character and puts in a very strong performance while his two young co-stars (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) are both exceptional.
In fact there's some serious acting talent throughout the cast : Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson, Joe Don Baker and Paul Sparks all turn up at various points.
Neatly handled by writer/director Jeff Nichols and making the absolute most of the scenery of its Mississippi River setting it's a small but tense drama with some very fine performances by all involved.
Interesting and involving.
Rush (2013 117min.) [Film4 9.00pm &+1]
Motor racing drama based on a true story, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl. The 1976 Formula One season is dominated by the intense rivalry between two brilliant drivers: the maverick James Hunt and the methodical Niki Lauda. As their quest for dominance of the sport grows more intense, tragedy seems almost inevitable.
Chris Hemsworth plays Hunt as a boozy, lazy, ladies man blessed with natural charm and talent while Daniel Brühl as Lauda is the technically minded perfectionist who scowls and gripes his way through his professional and personal life.
The two ends of the spectrum personalities of the central characters allows scriptwriter Peter Morgan to dig deep into the psyche of the two rivals - the scenes set in pre-race drivers meetings where Hunt teases and mocks Lauda's obsession with safety are superbly done.
Ron Howard's direction of the action scenes is quite thrilling and the sights and sounds (and the constant presence of sudden death) of 1970s Formula 1 are brilliantly re-created.
Olivia Wilde is terrific as Hunt's long suffering girlfriend/wife Suzy and Christian McKay is an absolute joy as Alexander Hesketh, the wealthy playboy who gives Hunt his first drive.
Even if you know nothing about (or care nothing about) Formula 1 racing don't be put off : the film is very low on technical chat and backstory and very big on personal relationships, spectacle and thrills.