WEEK IN MOVIES
WITH LEIGH PAATSCH
THE INVENTION OF LYING 10PM, SEVEN Influential British comic Ricky Gervais ( The Office, Extras) comes a cropper in this attempt to conquer Hollywood. In a world where the truth is always told, Gervais plays the first man to ever tell a lie. What starts out as an intriguing idea for a film – think an inverse version of Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar – soon becomes a grating gimmick. Gervais’ comic radar is not working well here. As a leading man, he just can’t cut it when the pressure is on. Should stick to his home turf from now on. Co-stars Jennifer Garner.
THE TREE OF LIFE 10.15PM, SBS2 This ambitious attempt to explain the unexplainable nature of life is one of the most unique films of the past decade. A single soundbite heard early on perhaps best connects viewers to the extraordinary experience ahead: “There are two ways through life: the way of nature, or the way of grace. You have to choose which one you will follow.” The physical embodiment of this thought is a typical American family of the 1950: a tough, no-nonsense father (played by Brad Pitt), a free-spirited mother (Jessica Chastain), and their three young sons. With one of the boys fated to die in his teens, the film begins a
cosmically scenic journey to a depiction of the afterlife as genuinely moving as any mind could ever conjure. People will either be totally bewitched or bewildered by what happens here. Like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, if you fall under its spell, a masterpiece appears before you.
GOSFORD PARK 12.40PM, FOXTEL MASTERPIECE
Multiple mysteries and maladjusted mayhem abound amid the decadent opulence of a weekend shooting party at an English country house in the 1930s. This superb period melodrama from veteran director Robert Altman ( The Player) playfully skews its Agatha Christielike plotting with an acid tongue and a conniving sneer. A star-studded cast of top-flight English acting talent – including Kristin Scott Thomas, Jeremy Northam and Helen Mirren – further strengthens the magic.
DREDD 8.30PM, SBS2 Futuristic action pulp of surprisingly consistent quality, good enough to obliterate memories of Sylvester Stallone’s dreadful Judge Dredd (adapted from the same comic-book source). Karl Urban plays the title character, a hardline, no-frills cop spoiling for a fight when a killer narcotic nicknamed Slo-mo hits Mega-City One. Clever set-piece chases and skirmishes, and a sly sense of humour round out a very solid effort.
THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB 1PM, NINE A straggly ball of feelgood fluff concerning five women and a token bloke meeting monthly to discuss the collected works of Jane Austen. A lot of incredibly banal blab about how life is often like an Austen novel, a little lame relationship angst and that’s about it. Stars Emily Blunt, Mario Bello.
BABY MAMA 11.15PM, SEVEN An infertile single businesswoman (Tina Fey) employs a shifty, not-soshrewd slob (Amy Poehler) to bear a surrogate child. What follows is a mildly engaging, all-female version of The Odd Couple. Or an older-skewing version of Juno, but with safer jokes. The best work in this slight comedy can be found in the supporting ranks, courtesy of Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin and Greg Kinnear.
APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX 8.30PM, SBS1 Francis Ford Coppola releases the ultimate director’s cut version of his Vietnam war opus. Doesn’t soar to any greater heights because of the extra 50 minutes, but still a classic of chaotic cinema bravura. Stars Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando.
All-American: Brad Pitt plays a 1950s dad in TheTreeofLife.
Slobbish surrogate: Amy Poehler stars in Baby Mama.