On the flight over I had time for two films; Alexander Payne’s excellent 2011 The Descendants, starring George Clooney, and Guy Ritchie’s altogether less memorable, if still enjoyable, 2011 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, starring Robert Downey Jr. I wonder if Clooney has ever made a bad film. In The Descendants he plays Honolulu-based land baron Matt King, a ‘back-up parent’ of two daughters whose philosophy of parenting is to ‘give them enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing’. When a boating accident sends Matt’s wife into an irreversible and ultimately fatal coma, he suddenly finds himself looking after his teenage spoilt brat of a daughter, Alex, and the altogether more vulnerable ten year-old Scottie. Through Alex he discovers that his wife was having an affair. As he comes to terms with this (and he does) and as his solidarity with his daughters grows, Matt’s philosophy of life changes, leading him to turn his back on a deal that would have sold 25,000 acres of pristine land on the island of Kaua’i for development. In short, adversity and self-knowledge transforms him into a better person. The cast turns in a strong performance, particularly Shailene Woodley playing the spoilt Alex, and the director cleverly mixes sentiment and humour without ever slipping into farce or melodrama. In the second film, a Hollywood Holmes does battle with a Hollywood Moriarty; cue action – lots of it.