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A touch of class from a fab four

CHRISTOPHER Walken, Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mark Ivanir –the cast list for A Late Quartet HHH, Cineworld, tomorrow 6.30pm; Saturday, 6.15pm) is Carnegie Hall standard.

Yaron Zilberman directs this tale of musicians, together for 3000 concerts, as they come to terms with the increasing frailty of one of their number. Top-flight performances, as you would expect, but something of an actors' workshop piece in which everyone is given their turn to show what they can do.

The talents of another class act are on display in Robot & Frank (HHHH, GFT, Sunday, 3pm). Frank Langella, titan of the stage and screen (Frost/Nixon) plays Frank, an old rogue now in the winter of his years.

His son wants to help his ailing father, but not to the extent of moving in. This being an America of the future, the son buys a robot to act as carer. At first man hates machine, but it soon emerges that there is something that the two can bond over.

Also starring Susan Sarandon and James Marsden, Jake Schreier's drama is funny, tender, and constantly surprising.

Set in the wilds of the Highlands, Shell (HHH, GFT, 8.45pm; Sunday, 11am) plays out slowly and intriguingly, inviting the audience into its embrace.

Chloe Pirrie plays the titular Shell, who lives with her father in a remote petrol station. Insert obvious joke here, as a pair of city types duly do. Shell's life centres around her troubled father (Joseph Mawle) and the few customers who regularly pass her way. There is another world out there, but does Shell want to enter it?

Chloe Pirrie, playing Shell, is a real discovery.

James McAvoy, about to wow audiences in the theatre with Macbeth, is a good cop in a bad world in the dazzling British crime thriller Welcome to the Punch (HHHH, GFT, Sunday, 5.30pm). McAvoy plays a London detective who has reason enough to see crime boss Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) jailed, but Sternwood is out of the country and doesn't look like he will ever return – until family matters intervene.

Eran Creevy, who made his name with the low budget, big impact drama Shifty, delivers a fast-moving actioner that has echoes of both Michael Mann and John Woo, but its humour and swagger are definitely, defiantly, British. As he showed in Wanted, McAvoy is no slouch on the action man front.

The Stranger than Fiction documentary strand of the festival is always a strong one, and Vito, inset, (HHHH, Cineworld, Saturday, 2.45pm; Sunday, 7.45pm) provides a masterclass in how to portray a person, a period, and an entire movement at the same time. Vito Russo was born an era when to be gay was to be expected to lead a hidden life. He devoted his life to changing that, and in the process made himself a hero to many. As a contributor says here, he was one of the first gay celebrities, and as Jeffrey Schwarz's affectionate film shows, he was a beloved son, brother, and lover too. With talking heads ranging from his great pal Lily Tomlin to Armistead Maupin, this is a stirring watch.

Phil Daniels, who once starred in a certain music movie called Quadrophenia (ask your parents) returns to rock follies in the nicely daft Vinyl (three stars, GFT, tonight, 8.30pm; Cineworld, tomorrow, 4pm). Daniels plays Johnny Jones, one time lead singer with punk band Weapons of Happiness, now a middle-aged geezer living in a caravan and dreaming of living it large again. When the band is reunited at a funeral, Johnny thinks he might just have hit on a daring rock and roll swindle to make the Weapons successful once more. Sara Sugarman's comedy, like The Full Monty before it, has the good sense to have an affectionate laugh at its characters as well as with them.

Still on Nostalgia Boulevard, Living Apart Together (three stars, GFT, Sunday, 1.15pm) is one of the great, unsung Glasgow movies. Starring BA Robertson as an up and coming pop star returning home, Charles Gormley's 1982 comedy drama stars lots of well kent faces, from Peter Capaldi to Jimmy Logan. Everyone and everything looks young and awkward, including the city. A few creaks here and there but lovingly restored by Glasgow's Park Circus, this is one acquaintance you won't regret renewing.

Joss Whedon's Much Ado about Nothing (four stars, GFT, Sunday, 8.15pm; Cineworld, 8.45p, both sold out/returns only) is a traditional, yet at the same time utterly fresh and contemporary, take on Shakespeare's comedy. Filmed at Whedon's Santa Monica home (yes, you will be jealous) and shot in stylish black and white, it is no surprise that the director of Buffy and Avengers Assemble should be able to keep the story tearing along like a well-tuned Ferrari. What really delights, though, is the sheer sense of fun that shines from the piece. A great looking cast combines with glossy production values and a wicked sense of comic timing to make a Shakespeare that's funny, sexy, and oh so cool. Any teacher having trouble persuading their class that Shakespeare is the man should take them along to Whedon's joyful comedy of modern love manners when the film has its official, UK-wide release on June 14.

Tickets: GFT, 12 Rose Street, G3 6RB, or Cineworld Renfrew Street; www.glasgowfilm.org/festival; 0141 332 6535.

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