WEEK IN MOVIES
WITH LEIGH PAATSCH
THOR 7.30PM, TEN ★★★ A quite enjoyable pulp action movie, based on the Marvel Comics incarnation of the famous figure from Norse mythology. Aussie Chris Hemsworth plays the title character, a rogue god banished to Earth by his dad (Anthony Hopkins) to learn a lesson or three. Natalie Portman plays the scientist who befriends the unworldly hunk of beefcake. Genuinely funny in parts and deserves to be met with a moderately resounding “wow!’’ from its target audience. And not simply for defying the curse that has blighted brawny blockbusters since the debacle of Clash of the Titans.
MARGIN CALL 8.30PM, SBS2 ★★★★ Just in case you missed the final results of the global financial crisis, here is a quick recap. They won. You lost. This superb drama, set on a single fateful evening before the big meltdown of 2008, communicates all too powerfully how it all happened. In the darkened offices of a Wall St investment firm, one cold, hard decision must and will be made. A decision that could save the company from ruin, but will consign its customers and even its own employees to the scrapheap. Though an excessively talky affair, the screenplay’s abundance of great dialogue and powerful storytelling smarts casts a dazzling spell. Especially on those occasions where the complexities of the financial world threaten to get the better of the average viewer. It is here the likes of Jeremy Irons (the ruthless CEO), Kevin Spacey (his loyal yet conflicted attack dog) and Australia’s Simon Baker (a slick blame-shifter par excellence) step forward to simplify and humanise the tale in terms we can all understand.
SAVE THE LAST DANCE 9.30PM, ELEVEN ★★★ Though not exactly as groundbreaking as it thinks it is, this teen drama is at least prepared to acknowledge the complexities of inter-racial relationships. The plot is a letdown – a gettin-jiggy-withit jumble of Dirty Dancing and Boyz N the Hood – but Sean Patrick Thomas and Julia Stiles make a big impression as the downtown Romeo and Juliet. 12 YEARS A SLAVE
2.15PM, FOXTEL MASTERPIECE ★★★★★ This is the true story of Solomon Northup (masterfully played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a successful African-American musician who was abducted as a free man in 1841 and then sold into slavery. It is no condemnation of this powerful work to label it a film that has to be fully endured to be truly appreciated. A film as complex, compelling and confronting as this not only reignites a familiar sense of outrage about a shameful past, it also promotes a fresh understanding of that terrible time.
G-FORCE NOON, SEVEN ★★ Wonky action flick for kids, telling the story of a crack line-up of talking guinea pigs who work as government spies. Imagine every Jason Bourne, James Bond and Austin Powers flick known to man mashed down and sugared up for quick consumption by the sub-seven-year-old crowd. Thankfully, there are no blood, bullets or blue jokes. But there is no real wowfactor, either. Stars the voices of Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Nicolas Cage.
MURDERBALL 5.20PM, MASTERPIECE ★★★★ Frank, raucous and raw, this punchy American documentary profiles the gladiatorial spectacle of competition quad rugby, a high-impact sport played by quadriplegics in modified wheelchairs. Finds both the inspirational and confrontational in the most unlikely places. Great stuff.
WAG THE DOG 10.55PM, NINE ★★★ The US president hits a spot of bother with a young woman, so his lackeys stage a phony war to cover his tracks. Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro are brilliant in this black comedy.
Heroic: Chris Hemsworth is god-like as the title character
in Thor, alongside Tom Hiddleston (left) as Loki.
Secret agents: Guinea pigs to the rescue in G-Force.