WEEK IN MOVIES
SUNDAY THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
9.30PM, GEM ★★ Marginally disappointing remake-update of the classic 1962 thriller. Denzel Washington is as fine as ever playing a brainwashed Gulf War veteran piecing together the jigsaw of a vast political conspiracy, but the drama lapses into pulpy pantomime when the pressure is on. Meryl Streep’s weird Hilary Clinton impersonation doesn’t help, either.
8.30PM, SBS2 ★★★★ Drive presents paying passengers with one incredible ride. Ryan Gosling plays a solitary figure known only as Driver, a part-time movie stuntman not above helping the best crooks in LA make a quick getaway. This mysterious figure is forced out of his shell after befriending lonely neighbour (Carey Mulligan) and her young child. With both hands on the wheel and the pedal pressed flat to the floor, this brilliant crime thriller proceeds swiftly towards true cinematic greatness. Gosling confirms his reputation as one of the best actors of his generation, while Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn’s command of atmospherics is intimidatingly irresistible.
5.20PM, FOXTEL PREMIERE
★★★★ This utterly brilliant, slyly innovative action picture issues a barrage of future shocks in a pressing present tense. In a bid to stop global warming, climate scientists have triggered a new ice age. Everyone dies in the ensuing snap freeze, except for the occupants of a luxury bullet train. Over time, each carriage becomes a nation unto itself. Due to an ambitious combo of the high- concept and the high-octane, this is an experience best seen (almost literally) cold. Stars Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton.
WEDNESDAY PACIFIC RIM
8.30PM, GO! ★★★ Are you into monsters fighting with robots? Well here’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of creature-versusmachine smack-downs. Get set to gorge yourself. Unwieldy, uniformly bamboozling and utterly unique, this epic futuristic action blockbuster is the work of visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro ( Hellboy). An acquired taste, perhaps destined to be held in very high regard in years to come. Stars Charlie Hunnam.
THURSDAY THE EQUALIZER
7.30PM, FOXTEL PREMIERE ★★★ Seems Liam Neeson no longer has the “mature vengeance” demographic all to himself. Denzel Washington wants his cut of the aged-aggression market, and he wants it now. In all honesty, is no better nor worse than the punishing pulp Neeson has been pounding out since the surprise blockbuster success of Taken in 2008. The same underlying principles apply here. Some bonkers badsters (Russians!) have irked our worldly, weary hero (Washington’s character works in the US equivalent of a Bunnings Warehouse!) So this old campaigner is quite within his rights to kill his way up the enemy’s chain of command until the movie ends. Very violent and very long, so best seen by hardline action fans, and best avoided by those who are not.
FRIDAY PULP FICTION
8.35PM, SBS ★★★★★ A pinnacle of pop-culture perfection. It was here Quentin Tarantino established his credentials as a true movie master, taking the ‘dime store’ crime novels of the 1950s and turning them into something entirely modern.
SATURDAY THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
8.30PM, GO! ★★★★ The second screen outing for the all-conquering Hunger Games phenomenon, marks a gradual, but notable improvement upon its predecessor. The tone is darker, the storytelling more complex, and all crucial elements of the muchloved novels by Suzanne Collins remain resolutely intact. Warrior heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, above) has reluctantly become the smiling poster girl for an oppressive regime she wholeheartedly despises.
Full throttle: Ryan Gosling plays a stuntman who befriends his lonely neighbour (Carey Mulligan) in Drive.