It's not often that Oxford has a direct connection with two pictures on the weekly release schedule, but the city was home to both the subject of a BFI-sponsored documentary on a music maverick and the director of a monochrome drama spanning 15 years in the middle of the last century. Having studied for a PhD in German literature at Oxford before decamping to make actualities for the BBC, Polish-born Pawel Pawlikowski held the post of Creative Arts Fellow at Oxford Brookes University during one of the most traumatic periods of his life. He had been lauded for the features Last Resort (2000) and My Summer of Love (2004) and was nearing completion of an adaptation of Magnus Mills's novel, The Restraint of Beasts, when his Russian wife Irina was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died in tragic circumstances in October 2006.

Opting to devote himself to his teenage children, Pawlikowski remained in Boar's Hill and taught at the National Film School before resuming his career with the poignant Parisian-set ghost story, The Woman in the Fifth (2011). During this period, Pawlikowski also returned to his Warsaw roots, although his Oscar-winning drama, Ida (2013), also owes something to his Oxford sojourn, as it drew on the life of controversial military prosecutor Helena Brus-Wolinska, whom he had met during his student days through her economist husband, Wlodzimierz Brus. However, the characters in Pawlikowski's new film, Cold War, were named after his doctor father and dancer mother and their story owes something to the spirit of their often fractious relationship.

It's 1949 and Wiktor Warski (Tomasz Kot) and Irena Bielecka (Agata Kulesza) are travelling around rural Poland with Lech Kaczmarek (Borys Szyc) to record traditional folk songs and unearth talents for a specialist performance troupe. As peasants sing and play for the reel-to-reel recorder, Wiktor and Irena are enchanted by the variety of music they hear. But Kaczmarek is harder headed and refuses to entertain dialect lyrics, as he drives their van through the snowy countryside. But even he can still have his conscience pricked, as he looks around the ruins of an abandoned church and is taken aback by a frescoed face peering out from a layer of cracked plaster. 

They invite hopefuls to a remote stately home and Zuzanna Lichon (Joanna Kulig), who is most certainly not a simple country girl, persuades another woman to duet with her. Irena sees nothing special in the ambitious blonde, but Wiktor is sufficiently impressed to ask her to sing alone and she charms him with a song about love that she had heard at the movies. As he has Communist Party connections, Kaczmarek runs a background check on Zula and discovers she received a suspended sentence for killing her father. When Wiktor confronts her, however, she insists she merely used a knife to remind him that she was not her mother and that he is still alive. 

Accepted into the troupe, Zula learns how to dance and is driven hard by the sceptical Irena, who also makes the peasant costumes to be worn on stage. But Wiktor is convinced she has a unique energy and is pleased when she lasts the course and finds herself performing in Warsaw in 1951. Such is the success of the show that Wiktor and Irena are asked by a government minister (Adam Ferency) to add songs about land reform, the Party hierarchy and world peace to the repertoire. But, while Irena is dead against such propagandising, Kaczmarek is very much in favour, as he knows they could be invited to perform in capitals across the Soviet bloc. 

Thus, at their next concert, a large portrait of Joseph Stalin is unfurled behind the female choir and Irena leaves the auditorium in disgust. As the conductor, Wiktor decides to accept the inevitable. Yet, when he becomes Zula's lover and she informs him that she is spying on him for Kaczmarek, he is powerless to walk away. Indeed, when she throws herself in the lake in protest at his bourgeois petulance, he returns to see her floating in the sun-kissed water and gazes into her eyes, as she dries out on the bank.

In 1952, the Mazurek company (now without Irena) is invited to East Berlin and Kaczmarek reminds everyone on the train that the city is on the border between the socialist and imperialist worlds. He also points out that, even though the GDR is now part of their family of nations, its citizens are still Germans and good Poles would do well to remember the difference. Meeting up in the toilet, Wiktor tells Zula that he has made plans to defect to the West and gives her a map showing her where they are to meet after the show. However, while he waits in the cold near the checkpoint, Zula loses her nerve, as she fears becoming a nobody in a foreign land and she remains with Kaczmarek, as he fraternises with his hosts. 

Two years later, Wiktor is playing piano with a jazz band at L'Elipse in Paris. After a gig, he waits at a backstreet café for Zula to meet him. She has slipped away from the hotel while on tour and they only have a few minutes together before she has to return. As they walk, Zula confesses that she didn't escape because she felt she lacked the talent to make it abroad and Wiktor is dismayed by her timidity. They embrace before she rushes off into the night and Wiktor returns to the apartment he shares with Juliette (Jeanne Balibar), who asks if he has been whoring before rolling over to sleep. 

When Mazurek appear in Yugoslavia in 1955, Wiktor obtains a visa to see them. He is greeted outside the theatre in Split by Kaczmarek, who offers him a seat in his VIP box. But Wiktor declines and fixes his eyes on Zula throughout the performance. She spots him during a dance routine and slightly loses her timing. However, he is bundled away by Yugoslav agents during the interval and deposited on a train back to the West. Zula tries to suppress her anxiety when she notices his empty seat and closes her eyes, as she feels the emotion of the song about lost love.

Back in Paris, Wiktor begins composing scores for film director Michel (Cédric Kahn) and he is working on a thriller scene when Zula arrives at the studio in 1957. They become lovers and take a romantic trip along the Seine on a Bateau Mouche, even though she has married a Sicilian and left Poland legally. She moves into a garret room and sings `I Loves You, Porgy' at L'Eclipse. Yet they still dance to `Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby' and have Billie Holiday's `The Man I Love' playing in the background as they forge a new life together. 

Moreover, Zula resents the fact that Jeanne has translated the lyrics of her signature song. She confronts her at a party and snarkily insists that Poland is a nicer place to live than France. Moreover, she takes exception to Wiktor telling Michel her life story and embellishing it with details about dancing for Stalin in the Kremlin and marrying an Italian duke. Grabbing a bottle, Zula hides away in the bathroom until Wiktor tells her they are going to the club. While he drinks at the bar, she bops with various men to `Rock Around the Clock' and Wiktor has to catch her when she falls backwards off the bar. 

She complains that he has changed when he dumps her on the bed, but she swears she still loves him. Yet, when he arranges for her to record an album, Zula sulks at the microphone and accuses him of helping her for his own ends. Thus, when he presents her with a copy of the disc on their way home from a soirée at Michel's, she tosses it into a fountain and he slaps her face when she says she would rather sleep with a confident Frenchman than a pathetic artist in exile. Zula returns to Poland and, when Wiktor applies to follow her, he is told by the consul (Adam Woronowicz) that he is persona non grata and will only be considered for repatriation if he informs on some of his fellow émigrés. 

Having walked back across the border, Wiktor is sent to a gulag and, in 1959, Zula gets permission to visit him. She bribes a guard so they can be alone and they kiss after he jokes that he has been accused of spying for the British. When she vows to get him released, Wiktor tells her to marry a steady guy and, by the time he gets out in 1964, Zula has had a child with Koczmarek and is performing in a black wig with a Polish mariachi band. He sympathises that Wiktor's hands have been too badly damaged in custody to continue his playing career, but he suggests re-recording the Paris album in Polish to boost Zula's fortunes. Staggering off the stage, she takes refuge in the bathroom and begs Wiktor to get her out of the country for good. 

They take a bus to a stop beneath a tree at a rustic crossroads and walk to the abandoned church with the peeping fresco. Kneeling before the altar, they light a candle, lay out a row of pills and exchange marriage vows. Having swallowed the tablets, they hold hands on the bench beneath the tree before Zula suggests they cross to the other side, as the view will be better. 

Dedicated to the parents who couldn't live with or without each other and who died in 1989 before the Berlin Wall came down, this irresistible drama demonstrates once again that Pawlikowski is the master of economical and elliptical intensity. The story might span 15 years, but it flies past, as Zula and Wiktor conspire to keep each other apart, as much as the political systems under which they find themselves living. Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot are exceptional in the leads and they are ably supported by Agata Kulesza as the principled musicologist and Borys Szyc as the cynical apparatchik.

There are echoes of Martin Scorsese's New York, New York (1977) in the script Pawlikowski wrote with Janusz Glowacki and Piotr Borkowski. But this kind of plotline has been frequently retooled since the advent of the talkies and it is no less truthful for its familiarity. After all, troupes like Mazowsze continue to fly the folk flag in democratic Poland. The ensemble routines are impeccably staged and Katarzyna Sobanska and Marcel Slawinski's production design is as sublime as it was in Ida. Jaroslav Kaminski's editing is equally assured, while the monochrome Academy ratio photography of Lukasz Zal (this time operating without Ryszard Lenczewski) is more fluent and redolent of Polish and French cinema in the 1950s and 60s. 

Indeed, the shot of Kulig floating on the water is simply one of the most beautiful images in any film in the last 20 years. So, while this may not be Pawlikowski's most emotionally demanding picture, it's perhaps his most visually striking and one can only await his adaptation of Emmanuele Carrère's novelised biography of Eduard Limonov (with its spoiler alert subtitle, `The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia') with keen anticipation.

Music also plays a crucial role in Terence Davies's feature bow, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), which is returning to cinemas to mark its 30th anniversary. Continuing the experiment with the `memory-realism' that Davies had employed on the shorts trilogy comprised of Children (1976), Madonna and Child (1980) and Death and Transfiguration (1983), this was originally envisaged as separate films. Indeed, `Distant Voices' and `Still Lives' were made two years apart with different crews. However, Davies decided to merge the storylines and produce the first part of a deeply personal triptych about his hometown, which would be completed with The Long Day Closes (1992) and the award-winning (and highly overrated) documentary, Of Time and the City (2008).

As the Shipping Forecast is read out on the radio, Annie (Freda Dowie) picks three bottles of milk off a rainsoaked Liverpool doorstep and a female voice croons `I Always Cry When It Rains', as she calls up the stairs for children Eileen (Angela Walsh), Maisie (Lorraine Ashbourne) and Tony (Dean Williams) to come for their breakfast. Following a dissolve, the family dressed in mourning waits for the hearse and put on a brave face as they shuffle down the garden path to the following car. Jessye Norman sings `There's a Man Goin' Round' and another dissolve reveals the foursome posing with equal formality and only marginally greater joy, as Tony prepares to give Eileen away on her wedding day. 

Eileen wishes her father, Tommy, (Pete Postlethwaite) was there. But Maisie doesn't, as she recalls the time he had beaten her with a broom after she had asked permission to go out with her friend and he had ordered her to scrub the basement floor. Tony is also glad the old man's missing, as he thinks back to the night during his National Service when they had argued so bitterly that he had cut his hand while smashing the front window and had tossed the few coins in his army uniform pocket into the fire after his father refused to drink with him. The night had ended with red caps bundling him into the back of a van and Tony had presumably never patched things up before Tommy fell ill and the family came to visit him in hospital.

Eileen's pal Micky (Debi Jones) had always know how to get round him and she had charmed him into lending them five bob to go to the dance - although even she couldn't talk him into letting Eileen finish her ciggie on the doorstep at 11pm. Micky and Jingles (Marie Jelliman) had been hugely impressed when Dave (Michael Starke) had bought Eileen a bottle of Chanel No.5 and this seemed to seal the deal for their engagement. Following a simply ceremony and a reception back at the house, the wedding party had piled down to the pub for a sing-song of such old classics as `If You Knew Susie'. Yet, while Maisie sings `My Yiddisher Mama', Eileen bawls for her father on her brother's shoulder and he can only hug her in silent consolation. 

As `In the Bleak Midwinter' plays on the soundtrack, the camera executes a backwards track from the pub window to the Marian shrine at the local Catholic church, where Mother, Father and the young Eileen (Sally Davies), Tony (Nathan Walsh) and Maisie (Susan Flanagan) had lit votive candles and prayed with joined hands. The track continues to a row of terraced windows illuminated with Christmas lights before pausing to watch Father trimming the tree and turning to give his kids a fond smile before they traipse up the diddly dancers to bed. He had choked slightly at the sight of them snuggled in the same bed and wished God's blessing for them, as he tied their stockings to the bedpost. But, the next day, he had yanked the cloth off the table and sent the crockery and the Christmas cake crashing to the floor before bellowing for Annie to come and clear up the mess.

As Tony looks at his father fighting for breath in his hospital bed, he thinks back to playing his harmonica in the brig and his army pals singing `It Takes a Worried Man', as Tony shows off his knowledge of heavyweight boxing champions and they knock back beer in a train compartment. He had come home on compassionate leave and had accepted his father's gurgled attempt at an apology. At the wedding reception, Aunty Nell (Jean Boht) had warbled `Roll Along, Kentucky Moon', while Granny (Anne Dyson) had piped up with `A Little Bit of Cucumber' and Maisie had joked that she wished she had stayed on holiday in the Isle of Man, as she is just as unpredictable as her son had been. 

While the kids watched Mother perched on the sill washing the upstairs windows, they challenged God not to let anything happen to her. One of the girls asks her why she married their dad and, as Ella Fitzgerald sings `Taking a Chance on Love', she replies that he was a good dancer. During their married life, however, he was handier with his fists and Annie had often been left bleeding and bruised after his furious assaults. But she had stuck with him and, at the wedding, she had sung `Barefoot Days' with a nostalgic gusto that prompts everyone to join in. During the war, Eileen had been the one to get everyone singing when her father cajoled her into doing `Roll Out the Barrel' in an air-raid shelter after he had just slapped her face for getting separated from him and having to be rescued by a warden as the Luftwaffe bombs fell. 

Eileen had been stricken with scarlatina and, while she was confined to bed, Father had banished Tony from the house for an unnamed crime and Mother had been powerless to intervene, as she watched him scamper off down the darkened street from behind the upstairs net curtains. Yet, when he sang `When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' while brushing a horse in the stable, the kids had scurried up the ladder to lie in the straw and listen to him. But, as they got older, they knew what they were up against. He had turned his face when Eileen had tried to say goodbye before leaving to work for the summer in Pwllheli and she had told him she would blow his brains out if she ever got a gun. However, she had been dumbstruck when she had been getting ready for a night out with Micky and Jingles when Father had turned up unannounced after discharging himself from the hospital and walking home.

He had died shortly afterwards and Granny had sobbed, as her boy was laid out on the table with pennies on his eyes. The girls had worked as waitresses in a posh hotel, although this wasn't their first adventure alone, as they had also been allowed to go camping at on the dunes at nearby Formby and Micky had hit Jingles with the mallet when she had accused her of breaking wind in the tent. But Eileen had had to come home early from Wales because Father's condition had deteriorated and she had felt trapped when she put the key in the door. On her wedding day, however, she had felt no freer, even though she was finally about to leave home with a chorus of `Buttons and Bows' with Micky and Jingles ringing in her ears.

A cat wanders in through the front door, as Mother confides off-screen that it won't be long before Tony and Maisie are married off. She decides to leave tidying up until the morning and we see her bathed in light in a red dress in a chair next to Father's photograph on the wall. But, while she can dream of a better tomorrow, as she dozes off in front of the fire, the grim realities of today hit home for Eileen, as Dave tells her that her gallivanting days with Micky and Jingles are ancient history and that her first duty is to her husband. 

At the start of `Still Lives', Maisie gives birth and proudly holds Elaine at the font alongside husband, George (Vincent Maguire). As Dickie Valentine croons `The Finger of Suspicion' and George snoozes along to Billy Cotton's Band Show and Tony smiles at Beyond Our Ken. Doreen (Pauline Quirke) comes to mind the child and sings on the doorstep as she waits to be invited inside. Down at the pub to wet the baby's head, Eileen annoys Dave with the lyrics to `Stone Cold Dead in the Market', but everyone joins in a song about the old gang, as Tony breezes in with his girlfriend, Rose (Antonia Mallen). 

Mother informs Mr Spaull (Matthew Long) from the Royal Liver that she wishes to cash in her policies on Eileen and Maisie, as they've flown the nest. Back at the pub, old school friend Margie (Frances Dell) wishes Maisie well before Micky turns up with Red (Chris Darwin), whom she had snubbed at Eileen's wedding. She ticks him off for talking football with Dave, who is seen checking his pools coupon with the classified radio results. Tony has no more luck with the 1959 Cesarewitch (which was won, ironically, by Come to Daddy), as Mother and Maisie pay a call on Eileen, who is living with Granny, as they can't afford a place of their own. Tony is still at home, however, and he feels guilty when Mother insists on finishing scrubbing the front step before having her tea. No wonder he sings `I Want a Girl (Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)' so heartily at the christening do. 

Jingles arrives with her chap, Les (Andrew Schofield), and she joins with Eileen and Micky in a rendition of `Back in the Old Routine'. However, Les wants to go home and she fights back tears as she gets up to leave. Eileen wants to go over and burst Les, but Dave tells her to keep her nose out of other people's business and Annie has to remind them not to spoil the occasion. She asks Micky to sing and she launches into `Bye Bye Blackbird', but Eileen fires Dave a daggers look and Red jokes that Micky thinks she's the Scouse Judy Garland. 

Despite their banter, the pair are clearly happier than their friends and Micky can feel the pain when Eileen starts up with `I Wanna Be Around'. Yet, even Eileen and Dave have their funny moments, such as when Uncle Ted (Carl Chase) pops his head round the door while they are having their tea and turns the light off with a sinister sneer. He is Tommy's bald-headed brother and Dave complains that he's married into a family of nutters, but Eileen is more bothered about the noise he makes when he wolfs down his scran. However, as Ted reaches the foot of the stairs to Valentine Dyall introducing The Man in Black on the radio, Granny blows out his candle and tells him to stop acting soft. 

Tony gets a round in at the pub and carries the tray back to the table to join in with a rousing chorus of `I Love the Ladies'. But it's Red's turn to get jittery and Micky assures Eileen that she wears the trousers in their household, as the barmaid calls `time' and Annie starts up `We're On the Road to Anywhere'. While the menfolk talk football on the pavement, Micky tries to persuade Eileen to call round, as they're only 10 minutes away. But, while she doesn't want to provoke Dave unnecessarily, Eileen is quite prepared to give him a mouthful when he insists on taking a leak in the street with Granny hollering at them to keep the noise down as it's late.

As the rain hammers down on umbrellas outside the red brick walls of the Futurist Cinema - advertising Henry King's Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Guys and Dolls - Eileen and Maisie weep into their hankies at (presumably) Jennifer Jones learning of William Holden's death in the Korean War. However, tragedy strikes closer to home, as George falls off some scaffolding and through a glass roof and Maisie sobs at his bedside in the hospital. As the camera pans back from the rain falling outside, we see Annie, Rose, Eileen and Dave gathered around Tony's bed, as they urge him to pull through. 

We're never told whether we are flashing forward or back to Tony and Rose's wedding day. Mother sings `My Thanks to You', as Tony cries on the doorstep (presumably thinking about his dad) and someone suggests playing `Oh Mein Papa' on the record player instead of singing for themselves. As the happy couple clamber into the back of a taxi, Peter Pears sings Benjamin Britten's `O Waly, Waly' and the rest of the Davies clan wander off into the night and whatever the future might hold. 

Three decades after its initial release and the receipt of the Critics' Prize at Cannes, this soaperetta still captures the poetry of the ordinary with a delicacy that hints at the action's basis in precious memories. The production design of Miki van Zwanberg and Jocelyn James and the fusty photography of William Diver and Patrick Duval conjures up the bleakness of urban austerity and reinforces the hushed hesitancy of a household forever uncertain of the mood of a martinet father who has geniality and pride have been eroded by years of poverty and struggle. The soundtrack similarly shifts between melancholy and optimism, as the hymns, radio tunes and sing-along standards provide a poignantly public outlet for repressed emotions. But while the restless perspective can occasionally seem self-conscious, the film is so rooted in a precise time and place that it always feels like authentic autobiography rather than anything more archly artistic.

Exposing the bleak reality of a supposedly more innocent time, this inspired blend of music and melodrama feels like a flip through the pages of an animated photo album and succeeds in being both fond and forlorn, gritty and nostalgic. While each part is emotionally potent, `Distant Voices' is more accessible to non-Scousers, as it has a followable story at its heart. But `Still Lives' is bolder and more brilliant, as it evokes a sense of spirit that no longer exists, even on Merseyside, because the working-class communities that engendered it have disappeared. 

The performances are as spot on as Monica Howe's costumes. But one small detail does nag. Surely it wouldn't have taken four years for two 1955 movies to reach the first cinema in Liverpool to show CinemaScope pictures, especially as it was owned at the time by the very Hollywood studio that had produced them, 20th Century-Fox.

Having won four awards at the London Independent Film Festival, including Best No Budget Feature, Dom Lenoir's thriller, Winter Ridge, has secured a theatrical release. Having shared directorial duties with Tim Osgood on Nightscape: Dark Reign of Thanatos (2012), Lenoir made his solo debut with Aleister Crowley: Legend of the Beast (2013) before completing a clutch of shorts. Filmed on locations across North Devon, this police procedural scripted by Ross Owen Williams takes Lenoir into new territory and suggests he has promise. 

When elderly Lucinda Curtis finds her husband dead in the garage of their home in the Devon town of Blackrock, cops Matt Hookings and Justin McDonald bow to superior Michael McKell in attributing it to natural causes. It's Hookings's anniversary and wife Claudia Archer urges him to come home for a candlelight supper. But he insists on tying up a few loose ends and takes the decision to let drunken Scotsman Ian Pirie go home because the cells are flooded. Unfortunately, he drives his truck home and the resulting crash leaves Archer in a coma. 

Seven months later and Hookings keeps sleeping in the chair beside his wife's bed and McKell suggests he takes some time off after somebody leaves a copy of Death Is Nothing At All under her duvet with the words `Let Her Go' written on the inside cover. He is more insistent after Hookings has an altercation with Pirie (who has been released early) after he tries to barge his way on to a ward to see his teenage daughter, Joss Wyre. But the deaths of Curtis in her greenhouse and Lesley Anne Webb's husband during a fishing trip convince Hookings that they didn't die of heart attacks as first reports suggest. Indeed, he finds a puncture mark in Curtis's neck (we saw her late-night assailant use a hypodermic on her). 

On calling on fellow angler Alan Ford, however, Hookings and McDonald discover that he is also suffering from dementia and he is threatening granddaughter Ella Road when they arrive at his house. Afraid he is in trouble, Ford speeds off in his car and Hookings pursues him to a headland, where they have a quiet chat after Ford calms down. He admits to being scared by his creeping condition and laments not being able to paint any longer. But Hookings reassures him that Road wants to take care of him and that he won't have to face his ordeal alone. 

McKell discovers that Curtis and her husband had recently changed their wills to make donations to the local church. He also reveals that new vicar Martin Ross had been forced to leave his last parish because of financial irregularities. Although the church is closed for renovations, Ross has still managed to put gold plaques to the recently deceased on a memorial pillar and Hookings finds evidence linking them with Pirie's scaffolding company. He also learns that Curtis (who is not diabetic) had an excess of insulin in her body and wonders whether the killer has been exploiting the ailments of  his victims to mask the murder method. 

As Wyre is awaiting a transplant, McDonald checks whether Pirie might have been bumping off potential donors. But this leads nowhere and Hookings draws a similar blank when nurse Olwen Catherine Kelly presents him with a list of people who had been in the vicinity of Archer's room and might have left the book. He calls on psychiatrist Hannah Waddingham and sees Ford participating in a group session about sundowning. She reveals that Ford and Pirie have been helping each other and have been on fishing trips. But she is unable to disclose anything tangible because of patient confidentiality. Keen to know about his friendship with Pirie, Hookings drops in to see Ford and arrives just as a hooded figure emerges from his painting studio having shot Ford dead. Hookings chases him through the woods and is knocked unconscious and has a dream, in which Archer urges him to let her go. 

Nobody seems puzzled why a killer who had been exercising the utmost discretion would suddenly resort to such thick-ear tactics. But the killing convinces McKell that they are dealing with a maniac, especially when it emerges that Pirie has a gun licence. Arming up, Hookings and McDonald go to his yard and creep through the darkness and strips of tattered plastic sheeting. Pirie attacks McDonald and overpowers Hookings and holds a hypodermic to his head. He curses his luck as a bad father before pleading with Hookings to do what he can to help Wyre and plunging the needle into his own neck.

Hookings informs widow Noeleen Comiskey what Pirie has done and why and Kelly helps him persuade the doctors to waive the rules and allow Wyre to receive her father's heart. But Kelly has bad news for Hookings, as Archer has developed a blood condition that she stands only the slightest chance of withstanding. Distraught, Hookings has another dream, in which he sees goldfish swimming in a shallow pool as Archer hands him Death Is Nothing At All and he wakes with a start. Certain that a man who would make such a drastic sacrifice would be incapable of murder, Hookings eliminates Pirie from his inquiry, even though McKell believes they have their man. 

It will come as a surprise to few to learn that they haven't, but Lenoir and Williams have several twists up their sleeves and (on this occasion) we shall keep their confidence. Cleaving more closely to Nordic Noir than traditional British small-screen crime series, the duo tell their tale well enough and offer some considered insights into the plight of dementia patients and those with loved ones in comas or awaiting transplants. 

However, Williams needs to work harder on his dialogue, while some of the supporting playing is decidedly stiff. But Hookings (who also doubled as co-producer) does a nice line in short-fused world-weariness, while cinematographer Joao da Silva makes atmospheric use of the moorland and coastal scenery around Lynton and Lynmouth. Indeed, bearing in mind how little Lenoir has to work with in terms of resources, this is an admirable accomplishment that eschews gory sensationalism and grandstanding sleights of hand to focus on plausible people dealing with everyday issues.

Despite scoring one of the biggest box-office hits in recent French cinema history with Untouchable (2011), writer-directors Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache have a pretty patchy record. Neither Let's Be Friends (2005), Those Happy Days (2006) nor Tellement proches (2009) did great business outside their native France, while their reunion with Omar Sy on Samba (2014) generated few sparks, in spite of the well-meaning bid to highlight the plight of migrant workers. However, they return to solid comic form with C'est la Vie, an ensemble comedy of escalating chaos that benefits from both the presence and the input of Jean-Pierre Bacri, who has won four Césars for Best Screenplay with Agnès Jaoui for Alain Resnais's Smoking/No Smoking (1992) and On Connaît la chanson (1997), as well as Cédric Klapisch's Un Air de famille (1996) and Jaoui's The Taste of Others (2000).

Having chewed out a couple seeking to cut costs for their function in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, wedding planner Jean-Pierre Bacri negotiates the Parisian traffic (despite having lost his licence) to referee a squabble between assistant Eye Haidara and singer Gilles Lellouche at the 17th-century country chateau where Benjamin Lavernhe and Judith Chemla will be getting married. As he gives Haidara a pep talk about her attitude and language, photographer Jean-Paul Rouve introduces teenage sidekick Gabriel Naccache to senior waiters William Lebghil and Antoine Chappey, loudmouthed kitchen skivvy Khereddine Ennasri and Sri Lankan dishwashers Manmathan Basky and Manickam Sritharan. 

Cross with his phone for auto-correcting a message to hire an extra waiter, Bacri is further stressed when mistress-manager Suzanne Clément informs him that she is tired of playing second fiddle to his wife. Meanwhile, waiters Vincent Macaigne (who is Bacri's brother-in-law) and Jackee Toto rebel against the prospect of having to wear period costume and deputise Chappey to speak to Bacri. However, he struggles to get his words out and Bacri turns his attention to Kévin Azaïs, a policeman who waits tables to supplement his pay. Schlubby novice Alban Ivanov is also grateful for the work when Haidara hires him as a last-minute replacement, but he has deference issues that include a reluctance to shave. 

Meanwhile, Bacri has to remind chef Nicky Marbot to keep quiet about the fact it's his birthday, as he doesn't like being the centre of attention. He is also peeved that Clément is openly flirting with Azaïs and is finding it difficult to keep his temper with Lavernhe, who is an insufferable yuppie who finds fault with everything from the flower arrangements to the fact that Lellouche is not the band he booked and not only keeps making up lyrics in cod Italian and Portuguese, but who has also put promotional flyers on all the tables. Lavernhe also chivvies along Chemla when she remembers Macaigne as an old teacher friend who disappeared after an incident on a school trip to Edinburgh. He tries to pretend he's a guest of the groom rather than one of the staff, but he blows his cover when he fails to recognise Lavernhe and he is relieved when Basky calls him away. 

Lellouche is also having problems with Lavernhe's mother, Hélène Vincent, who presents him with a song list containing classics by bygone crooners he doesn't know. Vincent also takes snaps on her phone while Rouve is trying to take the official photographs and he rants to Naccache about respecting celluloid to compensate for the fact that Haidara bellows at him for setting up in the wrong place and that Clément has confiscated his vaporizer because it smells of cotton candy. She keeps flirting with Azaïs, who has no idea why she has latched on to him, while Bacri looks on with a growing frustration that is not helped by Lellouche blowing the fuses.

Reminding everyone that the key to success is adapting to the situation, Bacri orders the waiting staff to don their periwigs and attend to the guests. He also ticks off Rouve for scarfing on the finger food and for breaking a mobile phone used to take a picture while he is posing the bride and groom. Bacri is in the middle of chiding Macaigne for removing his uniform to be photographed alongside Chemla when Haidara reveals that everyone who ate the lamb supper has food poisoning (because Ivanov unplugged to fridge to shave) and that the main course will have to be changed to prevent the entire party from becoming ill. With his band incapacitated, Lellouche wonders how he is going to perform and how long he is going to be able to keep his patience with Lavernhe, who has asked him to pause between numbers to make an announcement thanking the groom for his superb organisation of the wedding. 

While Marbot serves the guests with anchovy pastries and fizzy water to suppress their appetites, Bacri, Macaigne and Basky go to a city centre hotel for a replacement menu. Old pal Sam Karmann sympathises with Bacri's plight and shows him the Wild West bar mitzvah he is hosting. As Macaigne tells Bacri that he should break up with his sister as they drive back to the chateau, Lavernhe makes an interminable speech that only Vincent enjoys. Bacri returns to find a stranger on the periphery of the festivities and Chappey wonders whether he is a social security agent investigating illegal staff and the strain of the possibility causes Bacri to pass out. 

Dispatching off-books workers to mingle with the guests, Bacri looks on as Clément dances with Azaïs and Lellouche exacts his revenge on Lavernhe by getting everyone to twirl their napkins over their heads (a gesture the groom considers vulgar). Ivanov starts having fun, while Lebghll begins doing magic tricks and Basky takes a seat at the children's table. Macaigne also lets his hair down and makes a beeline for Chemla, while Naccache introduces Rouve to the concept of geolocation dating sites and matches him up with someone at the reception. While Rouve seeks out his contact, Bacri challenges stranger Grégoire Bonnet, who turns out to be the man he has been emailing about taking over the business so that Bacri can retire. 

As a special surprise, Lavernhe has arranged to float from a giant white balloon over the marquee and turn somersaults in a harness. However, when he sees him descending towards Chemla, Macaigne (who is holding one of the guy ropes) gets jealous and tugs him down. Lellouche takes over from him, but is so smitten by the sight of Haidara holding the other rope that he sweeps her into an embrace and Lavernhe drifts away on the breeze. Confused by the balloon, Ivanov and Lebghil take it as the signal to start the fireworks and fuse the lights by setting off everything at once. Even though Lavernhe lands safely, Bacri has reached the end of his tether and he gives his employees both barrels before stalking off into the garden with a torch. 

Just as he ends a conversation in which his wife confesses to a long-standing affair, Bacri is joined by Rouve. He tells him that it is becoming increasingly difficult to persuade clients to hire a photographer and Rouve shrugs, as he is feeling good after canoodling in the bushes with Vincent. But he accepts that things change and he wanders back to the chateau with Bacri in time to hear Baksy and his fellow Sri Lankan dishwashers (who were part of a band back home) playing sweet music for the enchanted guests, who clap along as Lavernhe and Chemla dance by candlelight. Smiling at the sight of so many people enjoying themselves and even getting a coy grin from Clément, Bacri wonders whether he is doing the right thing in selling up. 

After Chemla gives him wholehearted thanks for a wonderful wedding, Bacri gathers his staff and delegates responsibility for the next function to Haidara. She leaves with Lellouche, while Clément and Bacri make their relationship official for the first time. As the vehicles pull away, Macaigne and Ivanov realise they've been left behind. So, they shrug and begin the long walk home, with Macaigne being unable to resist the last temptation to correct somebody's grammar. 

Despite being replete with feel-good moments, this is lacks the crowdpleasing consistency of Nakache and Toledano's biggest hit. At times feeling like a Gallic Basil Fawlty (especially when he has to make a dash to a nearby hotel to avert a culinary disaster), Jean-Pierre Bacri holds the picture together with a display of grumpy charm that is given some added human interest frisson by the fitfully involving subplots concerning his marital difficulties and his quandary about retirement. But he is the only fully rounded character in the entire film and the co-directors sometimes struggle to engage the audience with the titbits they portion out among the wedding principals and the catering crew. 

Macaigne has his teacherly tics and his possibly shady secret, Rouve has his technophobia and his vaping kit, and Lellouche and Haidara have their love-hate feud (to go with her habit of inventing crises to provoke a facial reaction). But too many of the other staff members are one-trick ciphers, as are the willing, but underserved Clément, Chemla and Vincent. Indeed, only the Sri Lankan dishwashers come remotely close to being sympathetic and even their geniality feels like an afterthought moment to shoehorn a little politics into proceedings that are often left to subsist on the meagrest diet of class satire. 

David Chizallet's camerawork deftly switches from static to tracking shots, as Bacri's problems begin to mount, while production designer Nicolas de Boiscuillé makes the most of the splendid setting. But Avishai Cohen's score is upstaged by a breezy version of `Can't Take My Eyes Off You', which aptly plays over the closing credits to reinforce the sense that this has been a slick exercise in forced fun rather than a genuinely amusing comedy.

It's best to come clean at the outset and admit to not having the foggiest when it comes to the life and legend of James Lavelle. He may well have been raised in Oxford and helped transform its music scene as a brash teenager, but the increasingly fragmented world of musical appreciation means it's entirely possible to share a city and remain in blissful ignorance of his achievements. Debuting director Matthew Jones seeks to fill in the gaps in his fizzingly informative and frustratingly overloaded documentary, The Man From Mo'Wax. But he presumes too much foreknowledge for this to be anything other than a cautionary tale for baffled outsiders and a mournful trip down memory lane for those who were there and bought the t-shirts.

Jones doesn't get off to the best of starts when he includes footage of punting on The Backs in Cambridge among the archive clips designed to set the scene for Lavelle's childhood. Indeed, he compounds the error by slapping the caption `Oxford, England' over an image of King's Parade looking towards the Senate House and the tower of St John's College. However, he pulls things round with a succinct recap of Lavelle's musical background, the impact on his psyche of his parents' divorce and the support he received from his mother, Jini, when he asked for a year's pocket money in advance to buy the turntables that enabled him to start gigging as a DJ at 14. 

His love of vinyl after buying Grandmaster Flash's `The Message' led to a friendship with Charlie Dark after he moved to Hoxton. Here, he started writing the Mo'Wax column for the magazine Straight No Chaser edited by Paul Bradshaw and collaborating with DJ Gilles Peterson at the club, That's How It Is! At the age of 18, Lavelle launched Mo'Wax Records and Dark, Pablo Clements of The Psychonauts, and Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel from Blackalicious laud him for taking the risk at such a young age. Office manager Heidi Fearon and graphics designer Swifty admit they were flying by the seat of their pants, but they made it work to the extent Lavelle could bring graffiti artist Futura over from New York to design record sleeves alongside Robert `3D' Del Naja from Massive Attack.

Having cornered the trip hop market, however, Swifty proved a casualty after Lavelle signed a deal with A&M Records and new co-owner Steve Finan had a ruthless streak that alienated several old friends, including Dark. But the new arrangement allowed Lavelle to forge links with Josh `DJ Shadow' Davis and we see home movie footage of them clambering over discs in the basement of Rare Records in Sacramento. In 1996, Lavelle released Shadow's debut album, Endtroducing, which prompted one critic to dub him `the Jimi Hendrix of sampling'. 

The pair also joined forces under the UNKLE banner, as Lavelle sought to combine music, art and film. He persuaded The Verve's Richard Ashcroft to guest on `Lonely Soul' and Kool G. Rap on `Guns Blazin'. Enjoying the party lifestyle and making guest slots on MTV and the BBC, Lavelle also worked with Damon `Badly Drawn Boy' Gough and featured Beastie Boy Mike D on `The Knock'. Moreover, he persuaded Radiohead's Thom Yorke to record `Rabbit in Your Headlights' at George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch in 1997. Jonathan Glazer directed the video, which featured Denis Lavant being hit by cars while walking through a tunnel. But MTV felt the action looked too realistic and UNKLE reaped the publicity benefits when the station banned it. 

However, Lavelle and Shadow fell out after the release of the Psyence Fiction album when the latter refused to share songwriting credits and the former felt he was being shortchanged when he had devised the UNKLE concept. The look on Shadow's face during joint interviews is priceless and much is revealed by the limited nature of Lavelle's mellotron contribution to the performance of `Be There' with Stone Rose Ian Brown on Top of the Pops. Initially, Lavelle seemed oblivious to any problems, as he branched out into clothing and toys. But, soon after the New Musical Express accused him of being an A&R man trying to pass himself off as a rock star, A&M was folded into Island Records and Lavelle found himself with a label with no acts and no back catalogue. Moreover, Shadow wanted nothing more to do with UNKLE and the 26 year-old Lavelle found himself having to start all over again in 2000.

Signing to XL, Lavelle formed a new UNKLE partnership with Richard File that saw them team with Brian Eno and Jarvis Cocker. However, producer Antony Genn and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age suggest that Lavelle's talents didn't like in songwriting, even though Keith Flint of The Prodigy guested on `No Pain, No Gain'. The album Never, Never, Land (2003) was slated, however, and XL lost £2 million from investing in Mo'Wax at a time when vinyl and CD sales were in steep decline. 

Deciding to make a clean break, Lavelle walked away from his label and took up a DJing residency at the Fabric nightclub. But his party lifestyle cost him his relationship with his daughter's mother, Janet, and Jini admits to being worried about him. But File stuck by him and producer Chris Goss agreed to work on a new UNKLE project that resulted in Ian Astbury of The Cult singing on `Burn My Shadow' and Joshua Homme fronting `Restless'. Lavelle also made his vocal debut on `Hold My Hand', which featured on the 2007 album, War Stories, on the Surrender All record label that he had founded with Rob Bevan.

Physical sales were disappointing, but a live tour sold out and UNKLE even played Sydney Opera House. Moreover, Lavelle started a new romance with film-maker Lorna Tucker (who directed Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist). But the pressures and excesses related to being on the road took their toll on Lavelle's friendship with File and they went their separate ways. Pablo Clements stepped into the breach and Spike Jonze and Ty Evans directed the video for `Heaven'. However, with Lavelle heavily in debt and being the sole act on the label, he had to record a new album to a tight deadline and, even with Goss producing and Gavin Clark among the guest singers, Where Did the Night Fall was release six months late in 2010. 

As Clements relocated to Brighton to run his own studio, Lavelle was left in limbo. Three years pass and Lavelle is seen rummaging through the contents of his storage unit in Somerset. Clements regrets that things ended acrimoniously, especially as Lavelle's marriage to Tucker also came to an end. Just when he seemed destined to slip into obscurity, however, Jane Beese invited him to curate the Meltdown Festival on the Southbank in 2014. Moreover, he co-wrote the title of the No.1 Queens of the Stone Age album, Like Clockwork, and Shadow took the olive branch and they worked together again. 

Ending on a positive note, albeit with four years left unaccounted for, this is a sobering study of what the music business can do to those who entrust their souls to it. While he clearly made mistakes and allowed his egotism to run riot, Lavelle does appear to have fallen prey to tall poppy syndrome, as there's nothing the British media likes less than a brash success. It says much that even those left trailing in his wake continue to speak of fondly of him and it might have been interesting to see Lavelle attempting to rebuild some bridges on camera. Nevertheless, the fact that he has opened his archive suggests he is not attempting to hide anything from either the glory years or the decade on the decline. 

Given the accusations of cultural appropriation levelled at Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley in Eugene Jarecki's The King, it's interesting that the phrase is never mentioned once in this profile, which was originally entitled Artists and Repertoire. Moreover, Jones (who was hired to document the 2006 tour) opts to quote contemporary criticism as captions rather than invite the writers to revisit their verdicts or place Lavelle's achievement in a retro perspective. This lack of analysis and a reluctance to place Lavelle in a wider socio-cultural context is undeniably frustrating, especially as it would have been nice to know more about the impact of downloading on indie labels. But, even while the film has its shortcomings, it's hard to fault Alec Rossiter's dynamic editing or Jones's desire to fete a flawed maverick who, to cite The Specials, had the temerity to do `too much much too young'.

Staying off music's beaten path, Jake Meginsky profiles an iconic jazz drummer and percussionist in Milford Graves Full Mantis. He does so by largely ignoring biographical detail and by focusing on the preoccupations that keep the New Yorker artistically, intellectually and emotionally vibrant at a time when most 76 year olds are happy to sit in a comfortable chair and let the world go by. Having studied with Milford Graves for 15 years, Meginsky clearly knows his subject better than most. But anyone seeking to learn more about Graves's musical achievements and his place in the jazz firmament will need to look elsewhere. 

Following a quote from Milford Graves about experiencing life rather than analysing it, the screen is filled with close-ups of the ephemera in his home in the Jamaica district of Queens and we hear what sounds like an improvised percussion piece. We cut away to monochrome footage of Graves playing drums at a 1973 festival in Antwerp with Joe Rigby, Hugh Glover and Arthur Williams before a black-and-white split-screen sequence shows Graves beating out rhythms on an upright bongo. It's an exhilaratingly quirky start to any film, but these sequences set the tone for the free-form riffing to come. 

As the camera roves around the house Graves inherited from his grandparents, he explains how he grew up on the projects nearby before moving into this ornately decorated edifice. We see footage of him doing martial arts moves, as he explains that he didn't pick up his moves from human teachers, as the Chinese experts he consulted didn't want to share their secrets with outsiders. So, when he came to learn the mantis pose, Graves studied the insect itself and, when people accuse him of doing it wrong, he can point out with proud justification that he learnt from the initiator and not an imitator. 

He takes a tour of his back garden, which is full of plants from around the world to reaffirm his belief in multiculturalism. The sound of cars whizzing past should prove a distraction, but Graves only notices the serenity, as he points out the different blooms and bends down to consume a leaf off its stalk. This is very much a man at one with Nature, who picks up the cosmic energy of his environment and he applies this same sense of going with the flow to his drumming, as he doesn't believe that keeping the beat should be metronomic. Indeed, as something of an amateur cardiologist, he has come to appreciate the arrhythmic pulse and, over footage of him playing a drum kit (with an asynchronous soundtrack), Graves claims that a heart that beats to its own rate is probably healthier than one that sounds like a marching band. 

Such is his fascination with medicine that Graves did a basic diploma and spent time working for a veterinarian. While browsing in Barnes & Noble's medical section, he found an album of heartbeat recordings by Dr George  Geckeler and he called up his drummer buddies to tell them that he had found the greatest teaching aid known to music. Subsequently, he bought an electrocardiogram machine and began recording his own heartbeat and those of anyone who ventured inside his home. As computers became more sophisticated, he also acquired a function generator and fed recordings into the system to create sounds that are accompanied on screen by the brightly coloured graphics from the equipment displays. 

We are treated to a fabulous drum solo in old monochrome footage before we are shown Graves performing c.1988 with an enthusiastic group of Japanese fans at Body Weather Farm in Hakushu and a bunch of entranced autistic kids in a school gymnasium, as he provides the accompaniment to dancer Min Tanaka. As he thinks back to this event in 1981, Graves muses on the need to tap into the enjoyment and energy of children who were responding instinctively to the combination of the music and the movement. He felt like he was riding a wild horse and wanted to harness its power and take it to places neither of them had ever been before. 

A beautiful sequence of superimposed images from Graves's garden follows (resembling an old magic lantern slide), as he describes how being close to Nature gives him a sensorial harmony that he cannot find anywhere else in life. However, he also finds satisfaction from combining martial arts with yara, the African form of self-defence he showcases in a bout with a friend on his lawn and in a montage of monochrome photographs, which are cut to the pounding rhythm of his drums. In truth, this section drags a little, but Meginsky and co-director/editor Neil Young are clearly beguiled by just about anything Graves does or says. 

Over close-ups of a drum skin and the vibrating mesh of a loudspeaker, Graves describes how humanity misses so much information that the cosmos is trying to convey to us through sound. In his view, the changing world requires a new approach to listening and accepting and he believes that people need to feed off this energy rather than ignore it or fritter it away. This philosophy to adapt to situations chimes in with an anecdote about an incident in 1969 when Graves had gone to the defence of his 11 year-old son during a street altercation in Brooklyn. 

He admits that he had charged down the stairs carrying a pistol and that he had lost his cool and threatened those who had assaulted his boy with his German Shepherd. Yet, while the gun had gone off accidentally after it had fallen out of his pocket, Graves had been arrested and spent the next three years trying to clear his name. Indeed, he was about to appear before the toughest judge in the Five Boroughs when he got chatting in the courtroom to a complete stranger who turned out to have enormous influence over the community and he cut a deal that resulted in Graves being acquitted. He beams, as he concludes that it never does any harm to be nice to people. 

Sequences follow of Graves today and in his pomp drumming and scat chanting in his distinctive way. This segues into a shot of him working in his studio, with the knot of coloured wires entwined with a human skeleton somehow resembling the sculpture in the garden that had been created from the rusting tools that had once belonged to his grandfather. He becomes animated, as he ponders the physiological reasons why major and minor keys have their emotional effects on the hearer and attempts to stimulate his tear ducts while singing melancholic notes. As a last hurrah, he plays a blinding solo for a small, but appreciative audience and informs them that he doesn't need sticks to play the drums, but his mind. 

Reminiscent in many ways of Stephen Nomura Schible's recently released  Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, this is a bold bombardment of ideas and images that should leave most viewers feeling exhausted and inspired. One thing is for certain, few will hear the world around them in quite the same way again, while frustrated drummers will tap away on any handy surface with a renewed conviction in the power and pleasure that rhythm can generate. 

The film is far from perfect, as Meginsky and Young are sometimes guilty of indulging their aesthetic ingenuity, while not every utterance that Graves makes can be considered philosophical gold. But he is a wonderfully engaging and culturally inclusive character and his musicianship is beyond impeccable. It might have been instructive to hear a few outside opinions, but Meginsky (who was Graves's lab assistant at Bennington College) is evidently in thrall to his master's voice and the throbbing pulse of his life force.