WEEK IN MOVIES
NED KELLY 9.30PM, ONE A muddled take on the life and times of the Australian bushranger, pandering to the myth of an Australian Robin Hood instead of challenging it. Solidly evokes the atmosphere of a colourful era in our history, but on shaky ground trying to make a saint of someone who was anything but. Heath Ledger’s charismatic reading of Kelly will save the day for most viewers, who should enjoy the journey in time even if patchy storytelling rides roughshod over the facts.
LORD OF WAR 8.30PM, SBS2 Nicolas Cage is the leading freelance gunrunner for the Third World in this unorthodox flick from writer-director Andrew Niccol ( Gattaca). It’s hard to tell if it is supposed to be an oddball black comedy or outspoken political satire but it doesn’t quite cut it on either level. Having said that, it is impeccably scripted and never dull.
FAST & FURIOUS 6 8.30PM, 7MATE In this entertaining sequel, the F&F gang – last seen hiding out in extradition-free glamour destinations around Europe – is reunited after a revving-up from their old frenemy Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). As we should know by now, no one goes to a F&F movie for the story. All anyone wants from this hugely popular franchise is to get high on the fumes of one audacious four-wheeled stunt after another. On this level alone, Fast & Furious 6 spectacularly delivers both with quantity (the film runs nearly 130 minutes, but never stops for a red-light breather) and quality (there are at least five set-piece sequences that more than justify the price of admission).
THE BAND’S VISIT 2.30AM, SBS2 Set the recorder for this near-flawless observational comedy about an Egyptian police orchestra marooned in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Israel. The delicately deadpan humour and pitch-perfect performances make this a must-see for fans of highquality world cinema.
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS 9PM, ONE The opening credits say the film was “inspired by’’ the 1998 hit French comedy The Dinner Game. But if you’re looking to find any inspiration, you’d better bring along a powerful telescope or a wild imagination. Paul Rudd plays an executive invited to a dinner where guests are asked to bring along the biggest idiot they know. Steve Carell’s kitsch artist – a man who crafts his works from dead mice – fits the bill. Carell and a select few castmates ( Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis) serve up a few snack-sized bites of snappy surrealism, but too many bland ingredients make for an insubstantial movie meal.
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA 3.55PM, MASTERPIECE Clint Eastwood’s rapid-fire return to WWII’s bloody Battle of Iwo Jima after Flags of Our Fathers is a far superior effort in every department. Filmed from the perspective of Japanese soldiers, the spartan storytelling builds ominously into a trenchant critique of the futility of war. Stars Ken Watanabe.
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD 8.30PM, TEN Let us never forget the first two Die Hard movies were ripping, gripping pulp entertainment. That was more than two decades ago. Now here’s Die Hard 5, which is as hazily forgettable as the previous two. Most will file it away for future trivia quizzes as “the one where John McClane goes to Moscow’’. John has an estranged son named Jack (Jai Courtney) who is in trouble in Russia so he goes over to save him. But Jack doesn’t need saving, as he’s really working undercover for the CIA. So begins a medium-paced merry-go-round of blam-blam-blam and blahblah-blah, which includes a double-cross twist that is too easy to pick and several dodgy Russian accents that are too hard to stomach.
No signs of slowing: Vin Diesel, right, continues to deliver the goods in the action-packed Fast&Furious6.