Shifty (2008 85min.) [BBC2 11.40pm]
Crime drama starring Riz Ahmed and Daniel Mays. After four years working in Manchester, Chris visits his old stomping ground on a London estate. He meets up with his drug-dealing best friend Shifty, but Shifty has moved on from just selling weed and is now involved in hardcore drugs, and with that comes danger.
Very well done low budget British film that remembers to put moments of comedy in among the social commentary.
Excellent performances by the three leads and a good sense of time and place. Worth the effort.
The Great Beauty (2013 135min.) [Film4 12.50am monday &+1]
A disillusioned writer leads a luxurious life in Rome's high society, but grows increasingly contemptuous of the shallow people who surround him. He wanders the city in search of inspiration, haunted by his own lost youth and past mistakes.
Comedy drama, starring Toni Servillo and Carlo Verdone.
In Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese.
Paolo Sorrentino's film is something of a rarity in modern cinema - the central character is an older person who's neither a victim nor a burden; instead we join Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) as he wanders around Rome, wryly reflecting on the rather empty experiences enjoyed by certain sections of the population while casting his mind back over his own life and ruminating over missed opportunities.
There's not much in the way of a story or plot beyond that - but Servillo's Jep is such a pleasing companion that the two and a bit hours spent in his company are both rewarding and pleasant.
An original film with a nice wry humour running through it - all beautifully photographed and underpinned by a well chosen soundtrack. Absorbing and entertaining.