EVAN WIL­LIAMS FREE- TO- AIR FILMS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THE Christ­mas line- ups in­clude a sadis­tic com­edy about an eight- year- old boy fight­ing off vi­o­lent home in­vaders, Bob Hoskins as a se­rial killer prey­ing on young women, a Jewish les­bian ro­mance and a for­mu­laic sci- fi hor­ror film with Vin Diesel, some of which I’ll re­turn to. It al­most makes one grate­ful for The Grinch ( aka Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas ), the weird Jim Car­rey fan­tasy about a shaggy green yeti­like mon­ster liv­ing in a rub­bish dump. I think if I had to choose a Christ­massy film it would be Danny Boyle’s dark and prank­ish com­edy Mil­lions ( 10.30pm, Mon­day, Seven), which has noth­ing to do with Christ­mas ex­cept that the he­roes — two boys liv­ing in a hous­ing es­tate in north­ern Eng­land — re­ceive an un­ex­pected present when a large quan­tity of stolen cash falls from the sky. Boyle’s film takes a hard look at our mod­ern pre­oc­cu­pa­tions with money and prop­erty. There’s a pleas­ing touch of fan­tasy, and Lewis McGib­bon and Alex Etel are won­der­ful as the young­sters. Then there’s Hol­i­day Inn ( 1pm, Tues­day, ABC), with Bing Crosby as a small- time song- and- dance man who re­tires to the coun­try and lets his house for cel­e­bra­tions. The idea was cred­ited to Irv­ing Ber­lin, who was bet­ter at writ­ing songs. But Bing gets to sing White Christ­mas for the first time, Fred As­taire does his stuff, and the di­rec­tor, Mark San­drich, tries hard to em­u­late his suc­cess with the As­taire- Rogers mu­si­cals he made for RKO in the 1930s ( and don’t we miss them). You’ve Got Mail ( 9.30 pm, Tues­day, Nine) is Nora Ephron’s less than sparkling com­edy about a book­shop owner ( Meg Ryan) who falls for Tom Hanks with­out know­ing he’s the su­per­store takeover ty­coon threat­en­ing her lit­tle busi­ness: a re­make of Ernst Lu­bitsch’s 1940 com­edy The Shop Around the Cor­ner , up­dated to the email age and al­ready look­ing a bit dated in the age of SMS and broad­band. Seven is show­ing Home Alone ( 8.30pm, Fri­day), that vi­o­lent, para­noid kids’ fan­tasy with Ma­caulay Culkin, which ranked as the high­est gross­ing com­edy of all time ( and may still hold the ti­tle). Much of it is grue­some and un­pleas­ant: a child- abuse com­edy in re­verse, some­one called it. More har­row­ing, and more se­ri­ous, is Atom Agoyan’s Feli­cia’s Jour­ney ( 12.10am, Fri­day, Seven), my film of the week, a haunt­ing adap­ta­tion of William Trevor’s novel about a preg­nant Ir­ish girl who ar­rives in Eng­land to search for her ex- boyfriend and finds her­self

be­friended by kindly, fussy, avun­cu­lar Mr Hilditch ( Bob Hoskins), who runs a re­spectable busi­ness and is griev­ing for his dead wife. All, sadly, is not as it seems. The film is a mas­ter­piece of gath­er­ing ter­ror and spir­i­tual loss, with Hoskins giv­ing pos­si­bly his finest per­for­mance.

( 1pm, Tues­day, SBS), Char­lie Chap­lin’s in­dict­ment of heart­less in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, is a loosely linked se­ries of comic and melo­dra­matic in­ci­dents in­clud­ing Chap­lin’s stints as a shop worker and a waiter, with Paulette God­dard’s im­pov­er­ished waif picked up along the way. It can be called the last of the great silent films, de­spite its mu­si­cal sound­track, com­posed by Chap­lin.

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