FREE- TO- AIR FILMS
SEVEN’S festival of inappropriate in- flight movies kicks off this Sunday with Red Eye ( 8.30pm), continues with Con Air ( 10.15pm) and ends, for those with the strongest stomachs, with Turbulence II: Fear of Flying ( 12.30am). Of course a bumpy flight isn’t scary enough these days without a terrorist threat thrown in, and Red Eye has it all. Lisa ( Rachel McAdams) hates flying and discovers that the creepy passenger in the seat beside her ( Cillian Murphy) is planning to kill the deputy director of homeland security. If Lisa refuses to co- operate, her father will be killed by an assassin. This superb piece of hokum, directed by shock specialist Wes Craven, was arguably the best Hollywood thriller of 2005, making Con Air ( in which a dozen jailbirds hijack a transport plane) and Turbulence II ( another hijacking) look like the mindless, hyperkinetic action flicks I always thought they were. I’d happily swap the lot for The Wizard of Oz ( Saturday, 7.30pm, Nine), which begins with Dorothy’s turbulent flight from Kansas. Is there anything more to be said about this loveliest of fantasies? Whole libraries of Oz trivia have been written. Who remembers that Judy Garland’s part almost went to Shirley Temple and that the part of the Wizard was originally slated for W. C. Fields? It’s said that a female Munchkin can be heard shouting ‘‘ Judy’’ instead of ‘‘ Dorothy’’ after the first exit of the Wicked Witch of the West ( Margaret Hamilton). Yes, we’ll just have to watch it again. Otherwise it’s The Golden Child ( Sunday, 3.15pm, Ten), with Eddie Murphy as an LA social worker who specialises in finding lost children. Murphy has to trace a missing boy mistaken by certain wise Oriental persons as their Chosen One, requiring him to cut down on his usual quota of dirty wisecracks. This was one of the first Hollywood films after Big Trouble in Little China to go in for Eastern martial arts routines and is therefore to be regretted. And speaking of firsts, David and Lisa ( Tuesday, noon, Seven) was one of the first Hollywood films to explore the romantic possibilities of mental illness. Frank Perry’s low- budget love story has become a minor classic, with Keir Dullea playing a bright young man who cannot bear to be touched, and Janet Margolin the fellow patient he meets while undergoing treatment. I thought of this delicate and poignant film years later while watching Michael Rymer’s Angel Baby, one of the great Australian films of the 1990s. The Riddle of the Sands ( Thursday, 12.30am, ABC) should have been one of the great British films of the ’ 70s, but alas, no. Based on Erskine Childers’s famous adventure novel about two
eccentric Englishmen who discover a German plot to invade Britain’s coastline ( in 1903!), the result is slow, mannered and much too pretty. The ABC also has Nobody Runs Forever ( Monday 12.20am), which I think was shown here as The High Commissioner , the title of Jon Cleary’s novel. Rod Taylor is an Aussie cop investigating the murder of the wife of the Australian high commissioner in London ( who must, of course, be nameless). Excellent cast, dumb movie. And avoid Shall We Dance ( Friday, 8.30pm, Seven), in which Richard Gere’s jaded Chicago lawyer finds a new zest for life in ballroom dancing, a remake of a much superior Japanese film directed by Masayuki Suo, which SBS should screen as soon as possible.