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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - S EVAN WIL­LIAMS

OME­ONE who met Ni­cole Kid­man in Syd­ney re­cently told me that she’s much taller than peo­ple think and that the re­ally strik­ing thing about her is her flaw­less skin. So there’s my big dis­clo­sure of the week. I thought her com­plex­ion looked a bit too del­i­cate in Cold Moun­tain ( Fri­day, 8.30pm, Seven), An­thony Minghella’s har­row­ing Civil War drama ( from Charles Fra­zier’s novel), and was re­lieved when­ever her lovely face got smudged in the ac­tion scenes. Jude Law plays her lover, a Con­fed­er­ate sol­dier dis­il­lu­sioned by the car­nage of war who deserts his com­pany and trav­els nearly 500km to re­join Ni­cole on the fam­ily farm. It’s by no means her best film, but it’s brave and ab­sorb­ing and beau­ti­fully shot by Aus­tralian John Seale, and the only film I know in which an army de­serter is por­trayed as a hero ( dif­fi­cult for Hol­ly­wood in th­ese pa­tri­otic times). Don­ald Suther­land, ex­cel­lent as Kid­man’s fa­ther, has a much more sin­is­ter part in Eye of the Nee­dle ( Fri­day, 11.35pm, Seven), a grip­ping, old- fash­ioned World War II spy thriller that was un­der­rated in 1981 by ev­ery critic ex­cept me. Suther­land gives one of his best per­for­mances as a Nazi spy, based in Bri­tain, who un­cov­ers the Al­lies’ plans for the Nor­mandy in­va­sion and is forced to seek shel­ter dur­ing a storm with Lucy ( Kate Nel­li­gan), a sex­u­ally frus­trated house­wife whose hus­band is a para­plegic ex- fighter pilot. The story is ev­ery bit as juicy as it sounds. Quickly: My Blue Heaven ( Mon­day, mid­day, Nine) is a truly aw­ful Steve Martin com­edy about a mob­ster who moves into a neat sub­ur­ban neigh­bour­hood in San Diego un­der a wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gram; Alice ( Satur­day, 12.30am, Seven) is one of Woody Allen’s fee­bler ef­forts, with Mia Far­row as an­other sex­u­ally frus­trated house­wife who falls for a sax­o­phone player ( Woody was in tired, cliched form in this one, hav­ing ex­plored sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory in Pur­ple Rose of Cairo ); and Romeo and Juliet ( Wed­nes­day, 12.35am, ABC) is a 1966 film of a cel­e­brated Royal Bal­let per­for­mance, with Mar­got Fonteyn and Ru­dolf Nureyev danc­ing the lovers’ roles in a pro­duc­tion con­sid­ered a clas­sic by those who ought to know. But the one I want to go on about is So Long at the Fair ( Tues­day, 3am, ABC), a de­light­ful mys­tery story star­ring Dirk Bog­a­rde and Jean Sim­mons, and one of my favourite films. It opened at the Em­bassy — Syd­ney’s cin­ema for posh English pic­tures be­fore they pulled it down — and it charmed me again the other night on DVD. Sim­mons’s brother dis­ap­pears on a visit to Paris dur­ing the 1889 Ex­po­si­tion and Bog­a­rde, an artist, helps her solve the mys­tery. It’s a thor­oughly

en­gag­ing and in­ge­nious story, one of those plots in which in­no­cent wit­nesses ( for no ap­par­ent rea­son) deny all knowl­edge of some­one who has dis­ap­peared. The best ex­am­ple re­mains The Lady Van­ishes , though Al­fred Hitch­cock touched on the theme years later in North by North­west in the scene where Cary Grant re­turns to the house in which the gang held him cap­tive, only to find the drinks cabi­net stocked with books and James Ma­son off at the UN. Bog­a­rde once said So Long at the Fair was ‘‘ a re­fresh­ing change af­ter all those ex­cur­sions into the shady nooks of petty crooks’’. Of course it’s a mi­nor work, and you may find the ro­mance a lit­tle corny, but I’m in­or­di­nately fond of it.

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